Few things are as exciting to a child as their birthday party. Indeed, the countdown seems to start a long time before the event itself. Do you let your child choose what to eat for dinner? Is cake a must-have? In your home, birthdays can be celebrated with a piata, pool party, or a trip to the ice cream store (or maybe all three!). Birthdays have a little magic to them because they’re a time to remember how much you love your little one. When I was a child, I always loved hearing about my mom’s memories of when I was born in the summer. It’s hard for me to forget that my kids are getting older every day, which makes me feel a little nostalgic at the same time. Parents from all over the world feel this way.
While balloons and cake may be standard birthday fare, don’t forget about the gifts children’s birthday books can give. Growing your child’s own library is a gift that will last for years to come.
Picture Books About Birthdays
Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty
In her shop, Madame Chapeau, who is very good at making hats, lives above it with her cat and dog. In just one day a year, she pulls out her best dress, adds some flair to it, and strolls down the street. When a crow steals her hat, she gets a lot of new ones from kind strangers she meets on the street. However, each of the hats shown is best for the person who is wearing it now. Finally, a young girl comes to the scene and gives Ms. Chapeau a hat of her own, one made with love.
People are kind to each other, and this is a song about that.
Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming
After being invited to the Princess’s tenth birthday party, Jack decides to make the best cake in the world, so he does it. Trouble is, his cake starts disappearing as soon as he leaves the house to bring it. The royal birthday party is coming up. Will Jack show up with nothing?
Jack’s never-ending optimism is a great example.
Ages 5 and up
You Are Two by Sara O’Leary
There’s something very comforting about reading a book that shows you (or your kids) in the same stage of life as you are now. I felt this way when I read You Are Two for the first time, right after my first child turned two.
Poignant words make caregivers stop and think about how quickly the days of their children pass by. Using warm illustrations of different types of children and abstract images of childhood objects, this book makes you want to read it again and again. Finally, it’s safe to say that each book is a great gift for a child who is about to reach that age.
Ages 1 to 3
When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano
A countdown to that question you asked as a child, told in a fun rhyme. This book has collage illustrations that are fun, all the way to that day that everyone wants. A birthday tracker in the back of this book is one of our favorite parts!
Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish by Beth Ferry
This story is made up of a lot of rules that aren’t very well thought out. For example, it must be your birthday unless, of course, your life cycle is less than a year. Hats and streamers are needed to set the mood, unless, of course, you are a swordfish, in which case they might cause a POP! A dessert that starts with the letter C is better, but any dessert is better.
The flexible rules will be a big hit with kids. All the way to a slam-bang ending.
Albert’s Very Unordinary Birthday by Daniel Gray-Barnett
During Albert’s birthday, Grandma Z shows up without warning. The two go on a series of very unusual trips together. This book has a dragon, a roller coaster, a pastry chef, a kaleidoscope of butterflies, and more. It’s a real treat, and it might make you crave chocolate cherry ripple cake.
Ages 4 and up
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L. B. Deenihan
An unexpected or unwanted gift is the perfect time to show how gracious you are. What to do with your lemon tree comes next. You can follow this young girl as she decides to care for her lemon plant all year long. She wants to get not only ripe lemons, but also the chance to help her community. This is one of my favorite books on this list, and it has a good message for caregivers in the modern world: don’t use screens as much as you can.
Ages 4 and up
Baby Day by Jane Godwin
It’s baby’s birthday today, so there will be a party. Dozens of babies, each with a different temperament and skill level, crawl their way through the pages, each playing in the water with so many other tiny friends. People who read this book will feel like they’re at a first birthday party thanks to the simple words in this heartwarming book.
Happy Birthday to You! by Nosy Crow
A group of animal musicians, each playing their own instrument, come together to wish one little otter a magical day. Small children, on the other hand, love to push the buttons and have no trouble turning the sturdy board book pages.
Ages 0 to 3.
It’s My Birthday by Helen Oxenbury
In honor of his or her birthday, a toddler is making a cake. Gathering each ingredient is the first step. In this case, the young child has animal friends who help him out. This predictable text that grows with each page is a great way to help kids remember stories.
Where’s the Party? by Ruth Chan
Georgie likes to throw parties. For any kind of event, really. A lot of his favorite things are putting the party together and having fun with his friends. Forgetting about the party, Georgie is sad that no one can come because they have other plans. In a bad mood, he goes home. But he is happy that his friends brought the party to him. Though it isn’t a birthday-themed book, it is still festive.
Ages 3 and up
The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead
Little Amy Scott got a goldfish for her birthday and said, “Goldfish are boring!” The spoiled child throws her birthday gift into the sea. They set off together, with a group of noisy monkeys, to find the goldfish that had been left behind. A moral in the form of a funny story.
Ages 4 and up
Happy Birthday, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
Weary parents will be able to relate to the early morning wake-up calls that are so common in childhood. Every book in the Pookie board book series is great for parents who are new.
Ages 1 to 3
Make a Wish, Henry Bear by Liam Francis Walsh
Henry just wants to go to bed because tomorrow is his birthday, and he doesn’t want to be awake. Because his parents want to stay up and play, he can’t go with them to school. The first thing Henry sees in the morning is chocolate cake for breakfast. He doesn’t want it.
Because Henry’s parents only want to have fun, things don’t go according to plan (something Henry wished for on his birthday cake last year). Henry now wants to make another birthday wish that will bring back the way things used to be. One that turns roles on its head.
Ages 4 and up