There’s a magic about wishing that stays with us from childhood through our adult years. Walt Disney tapped into that magic with the memorable song “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Wishing upon a shooting star, throwing a penny in a fountain of water, birthday wishes—everyone has probably made a wish at some point in their lives.
Children’s books and stories marvelously and tenderly capture the yearning desire of wishes. They offer in summary form tales of longings and dreams. In this list, we’ve compiled the best books for kids about wishes and making a wish. There are familiar titles, like “The Wish Tree,” as well as new titles we hope will become treasured favorites, like “You and Me and the Wishing Tree,” and Katherine Applegate’s “Wishtree.” (For the rare book collector, we’ve also listed William Faulkner’s “The Wishing Tree.”) There are some tales that focus on the dreamy, harmless nature of wishes, while others explore the important lesson that sometimes it works out for the best to not get everything we wish for. You can use the list as a guide to find a new title for your child, to put together lesson plans, or to prepare for themed parties. For example, you can reference these titles if you are searching for wish books that would make good New Years books for kids to hand out at this year’s holiday party or to bring a bookish element to a birthday party.
Our list includes three types of books: board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are great for little readers, like infants and toddlers, who are still learning to handle books. Picture books are fun for toddlers and early elementary age kids, and for the adults who read aloud with them. Chapter books are great for elementary school through early middle school age kids. You can filter our list by book type or see the full list.
Let us know what books you would add to the list.
Charles wants to find a wish tree. His brother and sister don’t believe there is such a thing, but his trusty companion Boggan is ready to join Charles on a journey to find out. And along the way, they discover that wishes can come true in the most unexpected ways. The poetic text and heartwarming illustrations evoke the true essence of the holiday season and will inspire wishers everywhere. This gem of a book deserves center stage year round.
A New York Times bestseller! Some books are about a single wish. Some books are about three wishes. The infallible team of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have combined their extraordinary talents to create this exuberant book of endless good wishes. Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. Whether celebrating life’s joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age.
We woke up in the usual way,
but it was not a usual day.
Out on the lawn, plain as could be,
stood an orange wishing tree.
“I wish!” I said. “I wish!” said you.
And so our double wishes grew.
Wishes are a magical part of childhood. Whether we wish on stars or blow out candles on a cake, our dreams matter. Nancy Tillman captures the wonder of wishes as only she can, with love.
The New York Times-bestselling story of kindness, friendship, and hope.
Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood “wishtree”—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red’s branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red’s hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all.
Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red’s experience as a wishtree is more important than ever.
Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, this is Katherine Applegate at her very best—writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.
This book has Common Core connections.
As an elephant couple embark on a life together, thoughts of children are far away-at first. But as the desire for a child grows, so do unexpected challenges. And it’s only after thwarted plans and bitter disappointment that their deepest wish miraculously comes true.
Malala's Magic Pencil - Malala’s first picture book will inspire young readers everywhere to find the magic all around them. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.
How to Catch a Star - From the illustrator of the #1 smash hit The Day the Crayons Quit comes a story about wishing, persevering, and reaching for the stars. Once there was a boy, and that boy loved stars very much. So much so that he decided to catch one of his very own. But how? Waiting for them to grow tired from being up in the sky all night doesn’t work. Climbing to the top of the tallest tree? No, not tall enough. The boy has a rocket ship . . . but it is made of paper and doesn’t fly well at all. Finally, just when the boy is ready to give up, he learns that sometimes things aren’t where, or what, we expect them to be. Oliver Jeffers offers a simple, childlike tale of reaching for the stars, and emerging with a friend.
The Perfectly Perfect Wish - From the author of Strictly No Elephants comes a sweet picture book that explores themes of selflessness and empathy when a girl has the chance to make just one wish. In the grass, a girl finds an extraordinary thing that gives her…just…one…wish. She asks her those around her what they would wish for in her shoes, but nothing seems quite right. What will her perfect wish be? In this pitch-perfect picture book, Lisa Mantchev takes the concept of a magic wish and uses it to explore real world empathy, kindness, and good will.
The Wishmakers - “Looking for a fantastically fast-paced and funny read? Your wish is granted!” —Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Twelve-year-old Ace’s life is about to change in the most unexpected and magical ways—all because of a peanut butter jar. When he opens it, he inadvertently releases a genie named Ridge. Now a Wishmaker, Ace is given a week to complete a seemingly impossible quest, and if he fails the world will end in the most tragic (but cuddly) way imaginable. Luckily, Ridge can help by granting Ace an unlimited number of wishes…as long as Ace is willing to accept the consequences. The bigger the wish, the greater the consequence. So, if Ace wants to avoid having pogo sticks for legs or his clothes turn invisible, he’ll have to be careful what he wishes for and get a little creative. Perfect for fans of Dan Gutman and Max Brallier, this new middle grade series by Tyler Whitesides (author of the Janitors series) is a wonderful mix of unpredictable magic, zany humor, and daring adventure. You’ll wish it never ends!
Because losing a loved one is hard.
Ziggy isn’t just a pet guinea pig. He’s a rock star, a friend, and a part of Ezra’s family. So when he dies, Ezra is more upset than Veronica has ever seen him. She can’t just sit back and watch a friend suffer. Something must be done! Laughter is the best medicine, so tons of fun is just what the Fix-It Friends order.
But when nothing seems to shake Ezra’s sadness, the Fix-It crew learns that grief isn’t something to get around, but something to get through. And with good friends by his side, Ezra will do just that.
When Liplap wakes to find the ground covered with the first snow of the year, he can hardly wait to build a snowbunny. He pulls on his winter clothes and hops outside — lip lap, lip lap — as quickly as he can. But something’s not right. As Liplap builds his snowbunny, he realizes that for the first time, his grandmother isn’t there to help him. Grandmother hadn’t lived to see the snow this year, and Liplap can’t believe that he’ll never see her again. It isn’t until Liplap’s mother tells him the ancient bunny legend about the stars in the sky that Liplap realizes that his grandmother will always be with him. In this truly moving book, the heartwarming text and tender illustrations provide reassuring comfort as they remind us that the power of love and memory can transcend the sadness and confusion that comes with any kind of loss or separation. Perfect for one-on-one sharing as well as group discussion, this extraordinary book works on a variety of levels to comfort and to inspire.
Ruby is unlike most little girls in old China. Instead of aspiring to get married, Ruby is determined to attend university when she grows up, just like the boys in her family. Based upon the inspirational story of the author’s grandmother and accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, Ruby’s Wish is an engaging portrait of a young girl who’s full of ambition and the family who rewards her hard work and courage.
There’s no such thing as a wish. Or is there? In this playful fairy tale, ever-skeptical Cat learns that wishes can come true—and not always in the ways we expect. After all, true magic lies in our connections with others, not just in the wishes we make.
Polly loves words. And she loves writing stories. So when a magic book appears on her doorstep that can make everything she writes happen in real life, Polly is certain all of her dreams are about to come true. But she soon learns that what you write and what you mean are not always the same thing! Funny and touching, this new chapter book series will entertain readers and inspire budding writers.
Never Ever - Nothing ever happens to me. Never, ever. Ever, never. Nothing. Or does it? Jo Empson’s debut picture book Rabbityness was published to universal acclaim in Spring 2012. Never Ever displays her inimitable sense of fun, her love of storytelling and surprise, and her delight in the magical world of the imagination.
The Christmas Boot - In the spirit of Christmas classics The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas comes a holiday tale about the magic of Santa, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney Lonely Hannah is delighted to discover a warm black boot as she gathers kindling in the forest. A poor woman, she doesn’t have proper shoes on her cold feet. “Glory be! I only wish I had your mate,” she says to the boot, and the next morning, to her great surprise, there is not just one boot but two sitting by her bed! More wishes bring even better gifts—but the best is still to come: A visitor arrives at her door—a man with a big white beard, wearing a red suit and only one boot. Who could this magical visitor be? Santa Claus, of course! And he has one more surprise in store for Hannah: She wakes up the next morning to find a new puppy waiting for her!
One Christmas Wish - From beloved author Katherine Rundell comes a clever, funny, and poignant picture book about a lonely little boy who wishes not to be alone on Christmas. A young boy’s Christmas Eve wish on a shooting star leads to an adventure with an ever-hungry rocking horse, an angel whose wings are molting, a robin who has forgotten how to sing, and a rusting tin drummer boy in Katherine Rundell’s classic Christmas story, with Emily Sutton’s gorgeous paintings.
Another Brother - Matthew Cordell, the author-illustrator of Caldecott Medal winner Wolf in the Snow, crafts a delightful picture book about new siblings and growing families in Another Brother. Life for Davy was glorious as long as he had his mother and father to himself. But then he got a brother, Petey. When Davy sang, Petey cried. When Davy created a masterpiece, Petey spat up on it. And then he got another brother, Mike! And another, Stu! And another, Gil! Until he had TWELVE LITTLE BROTHERS! And that was only the beginning!
Henry Bear has very unusual parents. They encourage him to stay up all night, eat chocolate cake at every meal, and get into trouble with his teacher. Why? Find out in this droll tale about making wishes with unanticipated consequences written and illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Liam Francis Walsh, author of Fish, which Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, called “full-bodied” and “rewarding.”
In this sweet, character-driven picture book, two sisters wish upon a dandelion for a summer filled with adventure—and their wish comes true! When two sisters make a wish upon a dandelion, their wish brings them a new friend—a dandy lion—to play with all summer long. Together, the girls and the lion go on adventures and explore. And when the seasons change and their lion friend must say goodbye, the girls will miss their friend—until fall arrives!
Ace and Ridge are back to save their friend—and the world—in this sequel to The Wishmakers. Being a Wishmaker may be more trouble than it’s worth. Sure, you get a genie who can grant an unlimited number of wishes, but for each one you make you have to accept an awful consequence in return. Not to mention that you’re also given an impossible quest and only seven days to fulfill it! Despite all that, Ace and his genie, Ridge, managed to complete their last mission—but they couldn’t save their friend Tina from being abducted by a rogue genie who’s bent on using his limitless power to rule the world. To rescue her, Ace must reunite with Ridge to become a Wishmaker once more, and they’ll need to team up with the unlikeliest of new allies. It’s not every day you get a second chance to save the world, so Ace is determined to learn from his past mistakes and wish for the best, literally. Perfect for fans of Max Brailler, Adam Gidwitz, and Dan Gutman, this middle grade series is a wonderful mix of unpredictable magic, zany humor, and daring adventure. “An ingenious premise” raved Kirkus in a starred review!
A touching story about a girl and her dog, perfect for young fans of A Dog’s Purpose Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all. From award-winning author Barbara O’Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places. This title has Common Core connections.
Five misfits. One magical wish.
Bestselling author Suzanne Selfors brings heart and humor to this middle grade novel about a group of misfits who find true friendship where they least expect it. Leilani dreams of being friends with the most popular girls in her class―the Haileys―who are always throwing awesome themed sleepovers. She devises a master plan: throw her own sleepover of the century and invite them!
When Tutu, her grandmother, accidentally mails Leilani’s invitations to the DO NOT INVITE list, the best sleepover in the history of the world becomes the worst. Instead of the Haileys, the only guests are the three kids Leilani definitely did not want to show up: the neighbor who never speaks, the girl who draws mean pictures of her, and her farting older cousin. At least her best friend August will be there.
Leilani and her guests decide to make Tutu’s recipe for Sleepover Soup, which requires each of them to collect one ingredient that has significant meaning in their lives. They embark on a scavenger hunt that reveals unexpected surprises. What Leilani finds is not what she wanted, but it might just be even better.
An Imprint Book
“Big-hearted, fast-paced, and funny.” ―Kim Baker, author of Pickle
“Equal parts heartbreaking, hopeful and hilarious. It’s impossible not to cheer for these unlikely heroes” ―Sara Nickerson, author of The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me
“Anyone who’s ever felt different from the crowd will relish this story of kids who find the magic of being their own unique selves―together.” ―Sundee T. Frazier, author of the Coretta Scott King Award-winner Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It and the Cleo Edison Oliver series
“Huzzah for Suzanne Selfors! By turns humorous and poignant, this terrific book was impossible to put down.” ―Suzanne Williams, coauthor of the Goddess
Pinocchio - Perhaps the most popular and beloved children’s story of all time, Pinocchio tells the story of a wooden puppet that longs to become a real boy.
Grandma Wishes - Encourages together-time Reinforces the concept of unconditional love Introduces language patterns & rhyming Do you know there is a special star on which new grandmothers wish? This story lets grandchildren know how special they are to their grandparents. This beautiful keepsake board book makes a lovely gift for new grandmothers and grandchildren.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm (Phoebe and Her Unicorn) - It all started when Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and using it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection?
Sea Star Wishes - Selected as a Children’s Poet Laureate Monthly Book Pick, Sea Star Wishes captures the varied and colorful world of our beautiful coastal shores. Discover the wonders of the sea and enjoy a day at the beach in playful and imaginative poetry and illustrations. In these coastal poems for kids, children meet sea lions, starfish, jellyfish, and other animals in the ocean, and dream about sandcastles and other beach activities. This fun, lyrical children’s poetry collection by award-winning children’s singer and songwriter Eric Ode features lively illustrations by Washington State Book Award recipient Erik Brooks.
A princess marries a man she loves in spite of his impending death. Due to her devotion and persistence, she is granted a wish, which she uses wisely. Themes: love, devotion, bravery.
A wise tale of a little princess who wanted the moon and got it.
“Grown-ups themselves will find the book hilariously funny. . . . The lovely, squiggly illustrations in color are exactly right.”—The New Yorker
Award-winning filmmaker and author of The Boy Who Loved the Moon. Rino Alaimo returns with an endearing tale about courage and love. When a young boy’s father doesn’t return from the war, the lonely boy wishes upon a shooting star—one that turns out to be a little firefly who, try as she might, just can’t fly. Touched by the boy’s earnest wish, the firefly undertakes a courageous journey to bring the boy’s father home. Hope, love, and the courage of an unlikely hero fill the pages of this stunningly illustrated picture book.
When unlucky teacher Ms. Linda LaCrosse finds a magic lamp, she releases a genie—um, I mean, a Djinn—who agrees to grant each of her students ONE WISH! You might think this was fantastic, but it was not. It was a frightful idea! With magic wishes come hungry dinosaurs, stinky pizza, photographing paparazzi, and other huge mistakes. As the students of Classroom 13 are about to learn, you should be careful what you wish for. What would YOU do with one magic wish? The final chapter of each book encourages young readers to write their OWN chapter and send it in to the author, Honest Lee! The Dangerous Djinn Wishes of Classroom 13 is the second title in a new chapter book series of hilarious stories about a very unlucky classroom. Each story is full of humor, action, and fun that will prompt hours of conversation among friends, families, and classrooms. © 2017 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Remember me? Daisy Dreamer? Of course you do, silly! Well, Posey my totally true imaginary friend just cast a special wishing well spell. And you won’t believe what came true!
Have you ever wished a wish? Do you remember what you wished for? Wait, don’t tell me, because then your wish might not come true. My made a wish once. They threw a coin down a well, but it never came true. At least not until my totally true imaginary friend Posey came along with a special wishing-well spell. And guess what? It wasn’t only their wish that came true. Almost everyone in town had cast wishes down that well. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not. Let’s just say be careful what you wish for because with Posey around, it might just come true.
With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Daisy Dreamer chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.
Plum - From Will & Grace star Sean Hayes and composer Scott Icenogle comes a modern classic inspired by The Nutcracker about how the Sugar Plum Fairy got her wings. Plum will not stay glum. For as long as she can remember, Plum has lived at the Mary Fitzgerald Orphanage, wishing and hoping for a family. When a sudden snowfall threatens a delivery of presents on Christmas Eve, Plum is determined to save Christmas—even for the kids who laugh at her. Plum’s pure heart grants her an unexpected reward. When she eats a cake left behind by a mysterious magician, she is transported into the Land of Sweets. But Christmas here is threatened, too—by a sourness that is spreading from the center of the land. Plum’s determined to help, and in doing so, she might just find the family she’s always dreamed of, thanks to a good heart—and Christmas magic!
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star - Board Book edition. In this expanded version of the favorite nursery rhyme, Iza Trapani takes the earliest readers on a journey across the night sky. With playful verse and bright illustrations Iza Trapani introduces us to our irresistible young heroine as she wishes upon a mischievous, twinkling star. Granting her wish, the little star takes her on a dazzling and daring trip among swirling planets and beaming stars for one magical night. This new spin on the much-loved classic is a wonderful gift for even the littlest stargazers.
The Night Before the Snow Day - Could it be the night before a Snow Day? It’s nighttime and snow is falling hard. Will the town be snowed in? Will there be a snow day? Odds are looking good in this newest Night Before book for the kids who dream of snowball fights, sledding, and the possibility that it may snow again tomorrow!
The Carnival of Wishes & Dreams - In the tradition of Wishtree and You May Already Be a Winner, this hopeful middle grade novel tells the story of three former friends who must come together at their annual town carnival to heal and reconnect after a tragedy. The small town of Clarkville has seen better days. Ever since the Cohen factory burned down a few years ago, jobs are scarce and unemployment is high. But each year for one night the Carnival of Wishes and Dreams comes to town and everyone gets to indulge in a little wonder and delight. And for three girls who each receive notes asking them to meet the anonymous sender at midnight at the Ferris Wheel, it’s an evening that promises to be truly magical. Audrey McKinley can’t believe someone would ask her to ride the Ferris Wheel. Everyone in town knows she’s afraid of heights; the last time she rode the Ferris Wheel it ended with her having a panic attack. But ever since her dad lost his job after the Cohen factory burned down he’s been working too little. The carnival gives him a chance for some seasonal work, and she plans to spend the evening checking up on him and making sure he does his job. Maybe she’ll face her fears tonight, after all. Grace Chang isn’t supposed to go to the carnival. It’s too close to the burned remains of the old Cohen factory—the place where her firefighter father lost his life. And they always rode the Ferris Wheel together, so that’s also something Grace isn’t supposed to do. But since her mom just announced they’ll be moving away from Clarkville the day after the carnival, Grace is sick of only doing things she’s supposed to do. She’ll be at the carnival. And she is definitely riding that Ferris Wheel. Harlow Cohen is surprised anyone would want to ride the Ferris Wheel with her. Harlow used to be popular. But ever since her grandparents’ old factory burned down and so many people lost their jobs, many of the kids at school blame her—and her rich family—for their own parents’ worsening economic situations. Harlow can never resist a dare, but when a note arrives asking her to meet an anonymous person at the Ferris Wheel at midnight, she’s far from certain it will be a friend waiting for her. Can these three girls put their differences aside long enough for their wishes to come true? And is it possible to save a friendship that once seemed lost for good?
In the tradition of The Thing About Jellyfish and When You Reach Me, acclaimed author Kat Zhang offers a luminous and heartbreaking novel about a girl who is convinced that an upcoming solar eclipse will bring back her dead mother
Davy is counting the days until his birthday. It seems like such a long wait! He is so excited, he can hardly sit still when Father Rabbit tells a story about a lucky little rabbit who had three wishes that all came true. Davy decides that if he had three wishes, he’d wish for someone who would tell him stories whenever he wanted, someone who would teach him new games, and someone who always had plenty of time to spend with him. Davy’s birthday finally arrives and with it comes a big surprise present—too big to be wrapped—that makes all of Davy’s wishes come true and his birthday the happiest one ever. This new adventure featuring Davy and the Rabbit family shows that love is the best gift of all.
Hop into the world of Peter Rabbit as Peter and his siblings prepare for Christmas in this charming board book!
It’s Christmas Eve and Peter Rabbit is wide awake, listening out for Santa Claus. He hears all sorts of noises in the night, but none of them turn out to be Santa! Can Peter stay awake long enough to see Santa?
Another addition to the adorable line of very young stories set in Peter Rabbit’s world. The simple tales deal with the early experiences and emotions of small children, as seen through the eyes of Beatrix Potter’s classic characters.
In the magical South Seas, a man named Keawe buys a bottle that grants all wishes but condemns the owner to hell, but he soon discovers the redemptive power of love through his courtship of beautiful Kokua.
One day, a poor flower seller drops his leftover flowers into the sea as a gift for the Dragon King. What does he get in return? A little snot-nosed boy—with the power to grant wishes! Soon the flower seller is rich, but what will happen if he forgets the meaning of “thank you”? This classic folktale is reimagined with adorable watercolor images, playful text, and an endearing—if snotty—main character.
The Wishing Tree - The only known children’s book written by William Faulkner, which he wrote as a gift.