Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to surprises. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about surprises.
Our list includes picture books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about surprises, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Night Before the 100th Day of School to popular sellers like Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise.
We hope this list of kids books about surprises can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
On a windy Halloween night, as a little boy makes his way home after trick-or-treating, he hears a voice: “Cracklety-clack, bones in a sack. They could be yours—if you look back.” As his heart flip-flops with fear, the boy dashes through woods and fields that seem full of haunting shapes—owls, ghosts, skeletons, and more. The detailed illustrations are packed with visual tricks for children to discover. Are those skeletons or cornstalks? Ghostly hands or tree branches? The playful tone of the text makes this a perfect, not-too-scary read-aloud, with an enjoyable surprise ending.
Milo the Magnificent’s magic act isn’t so magnificent after all, until he meets a bear who teaches him the secret to the perfect hat trick in this classic and critically acclaimed picture book, perfect for fans of Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen Milo the Magnificent is the world’s least magnificent magician. He can’t even pull a rabbit out of his hat! When Mr. Popovich gives him one more chance, Milo knows he has no choice: he has to go out and catch a rabbit for his act. Instead, he catches a bear. And the bear promises to help! Into the hat he dives. Milo rides the train home, sure his act will go off perfectly tonight. But when he arrives in his dressing room, he discovers that he left his hat—and the bear!—on the train. Meanwhile, across town, a man in a restaurant has a very familiar hat . . . Can Milo get his hat back in time for his act?
Balloons, treats, and gifts: someone must be having a happy birthday in this fun board book! Something exciting is happening here Adorable animals are baking a BIG cake, decorating the room, and wrapping presents. Plus, Jack Rabbit’s practicing his magic and the monkey band is getting into the swing of things. What could it be? It’s a surprise birthday party! Kids will happily join the festivities in this vibrantly illustrated, delightful story.
From the creators of the New York Times bestsellers HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA and HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDMA comes a charming HOW TO book that’s all about surprises!
So you want to surprise your dad? You’re in luck! The pages of this book are full of tips on how to become a super dad surpriser, including tips for things you can make, do, or find—just for your dad.
Be sure to read up on: · Yummy treats and presents for a dad · What to do if he starts getting suspicious · How to prepare for the big moment (where to hide everyone, and how to practice whispering “Surprise!”)
From the author-illustrator team behind the New York Times bestselling HOW TO… series comes an adorable, funny, surprising celebration of dads!
A tickly feather. Roosters crowing. Even a marching band. Will ANYTHING wake Elephant? How do you make a snoozing, sleepyhead Elephant get up? Edgar tries everything, from putting a silly hat on Elephant’s head to dancing a cha-cha on the bed. Nothing works . . . until Edgar whispers something very special in his friend’s ear. SURPRISE! It’s Elephant’s birthday—and he’s ready to party. Lively, silly, and full of fun, this picture book is a joyful celebration.
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise - It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid”—or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.
Click, Clack, Surprise! - Little Duck learns how to celebrate his birthday with a little help from all the other animals on the farm in this charming picture book from the award-winning duo, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. Happy first birthday, Little Duck! Everyone wants to look their best for the party. But Little Duck has never had a birthday before—so how better to learn how to prepare than to do what all the other animals do! The sheep trim their wool—so Little Duck trims her feathers. The pigs need a mud bath—so Little Duck quish and quashes, too. All over the barnyard Little Duck snips, slurps, squishes, and shimmy shakes herself ready until…WHOOPS! It’s party picture time—and Little Duck is a big mess. No matter—it’s not something Farmer Brown’s frosted maple cake can’t fix!
The Cutest Thing Ever - An adorable and hilarious picture book filled with the cutest things imaginable This wacky, imaginative picture book sets out to answer a big question: Wanna see the cutest thing EVER? Just when you think you’ve seen it, there’s more! Is it a kitten? A unicorn? Bunny astronauts? These things are cute, but are they really the cutest thing ever? After being paraded through a colorful world of cuteness, young readers will discover a mirror on the final page, which reflects the actual cutest thing ever and makes them shout—it’s me! With charming illustrations and laugh-out-loud text, The Cutest Thing Ever is a fun read-aloud for parents and children to share together.
Monster Needs a Party - Disappointed when none of his friends can attend his pirate birthday, Monster cheers up when he goes to a pirate theme park, instead.
In her first book for children, Cecilia Ruiz illuminates how things can change — and the importance of holding on to our dearest relationships when they do. The first time Abuela holds Nina, her heart overflows with tenderness. And as Nina grows up, she and Abuela spend plenty of time together. Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all. With a soft and subtle hand, author-illustrator Cecilia Ruiz draws from her own history to share a deeply personal tale about remembering what’s most important when life starts to get in the way.
What do you do when you’re so tiny that the bigger ocean creatures think you might even taste adorable? An itsy-bitsy, glasses-wearing fish is minding his own business when a playful (and hungry) octopus snatches him right up. Luckily, this poor little guy is not quite as innocent as he seems…and he has a BIG surprise up his sleeve!
Pee! Gee! Wee! Gee! What’s that sound?
With her birthday coming up, Jessica hopes that, just maybe, her present will be a real-live potbellied pig. Jessica can hardly wait for her party with Judy Moody and all their friends. But Judy Moody is acting like a pig-head, and Jessica UN-invites her from the party. To make matters worse, Jessica has snooped around the house and has found zero sign of a pig present. Could her birthday be any more of a disaster? Geared to newly independent readers, this story will have Judy Moody fans in pig heaven.
It’s the night before Father’s Day, and Mom and the kids have a plan to surprise Dad with a special gift. When Dad goes for a bike ride, everyone gets to work. Dad wakes up the next day to find his garage newly organized and his car sparkly clean. So, of course, he celebrates by taking everyone for a spin!
The 100th day of school is almost here and one student is desperate to find 100 of anything to bring to class. Then all of sudden inspiration strikes, and he comes up with a surprise that makes the 100th day celebration one to remember! This hilarious story of a popular school tradition offers a perfect modern twist on Clement C. Moore’s classic poem.
Ollie's Treasure - Ollie’s Treasure is tale of mindfulness for young, developing minds. Ollie’s grandma sends him a treasure map that promises to lead him to ‘something that will make him happy always’. Of course, Ollie thinks this ‘something’ will be a toy of some sort, but he gets both a rude shock and a big surprise when his treasure turns out to be him!