You all know I love a good themed bookshelf, and there’s no better time to bust out themed books than just before a birthday! So, twice a year, our front-facing bookshelf gets turned into a birthday bookshelf, featuring all of our favorite birthday books. And, while there are some birthday picture books that we absolutely adore (in fact, we love The Seven Silly Eaters so much that when our oldest turned 6, she requested that we make Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake for her celebration with family!), there are a lot of birthday books out there that, well, just don’t do it for me… So, I thought I should share our favorites with you, so that birthday excitement in your house can involve books, too!
Our Favorite Birthday Books
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Jack B. Ninja by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Stephen Savage– You and your kids will all enjoy this fast-paced, rhythmic take on “Jack Be Nimble,” especially with its surprise twist at the end! We are personally big fans of McCanna’s work, and this is no exception. Jack B. Ninja is an especially fun book to read aloud, with exceptional pacing that speeds up and slows down at just the right places. You can read my full review here.
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee– You can read my full review here. Admittedly, this one’s not about a birthday until the very end of the book… But culminates with the children in this family coming together and accidentally making an amazing birthday cake for their mom. Mary Ann Hoberman has even created a recipe for Mrs. Peters birthday cake, which may be a hit in your house as it was in ours if your kiddos love this book!
Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts– It would be really, really hard for our household to pick a favorite birthday book. I’m not sure we could choose between The Seven Silly Eaters and Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau. Beaty and Roberts are the minds behind Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck, Ada Twist, and more. The illustrations are delightful and rhyme impeccable. And to top it all off, this birthday book is a wonderful story of generosity and kindness! You can read my full Instagram review here.
A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton– We’re big fans of A Visitor for Bear and just got The Sniffles for Bear as a birthday book from our school library, so this one was bound to be a hit with our girls. In this sequel, while Bear is indeed happy to have Mouse around, he does not want his birthday celebrated in any way… But don’t worry, as usual, Mouse wears Bear down! This is also available as an easy reader from Candlewick Sparks.
Got to Get to Bear’s by Brian Lies– I discovered this sweet friendship story last winter and was thrilled to have an excuse to pull it out again now, at the end of May! Lies won a Caldecott Honor Medal in January for The Rough Patch, and his illustrations here are wonderful as well. We see a group of kind, expressive animals working really hard to get to Bear’s house, because Bear has asked one of them to come; they trudge through a blizzard to get there because they know that’s what Bear would do for them. It doesn’t get sweeter than that!
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L. B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha– The most “modern” of birthday books on this list, When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree is about a little girl’s birthday wishlist for anything and everything electronic, but instead, her grandmother gives her… a lemon tree. Deenihan gives cheeky, albeit good, advice on how to handle disappointing birthday gifts, as well as tips and pointers for taking care of plants and making lemonade. Rocha includes wonderful details (my girls especially liked looking for the snail on the sidewalk), and watching the neighborhood children transform from tech addicts to kids who enjoy being outside and playing with nature is a delight!
Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish by Beth Ferry, illustratd by Tom Lichtenheld– This one will have your children giggling (or maybe full-on laughing!) the whole way through! Ferry walks readers through 10 rules of making a birthday wish (including “You must have cake or cannoli or cream puffs or churros. Your dessert does not specifically have to start with the letter C, even if some of the best desserts do.” and “There must be singing. Traditionally the “Happy Birthday” song. Sung happily and loudly and definitely off-key.”). Lichtenheld’s illustrations adequately support the humor in the text, and most pages include lots for young eyes to take in. Slow down with this one and follow your kids’ lead with pacing, as they may want to return to some pages and details over and over again!
Let’s Have a Dog Party! by Mikela Prevost– This is a new addition to my list, as I fell in love with it after a friend loaned it to us saying it may be worthy of being on here… And indeed it is! It’s endearing, funny, and kind all in one. But, more importantly to parents, it’s a great reminder that sometimes we think something is awesome, but it’s a little too much for our children. Definitely check this one out!
Did I miss any gems? What birthday books do you all love in your houses or classrooms?