The best birthday books

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to birthday, and here are their favorite birthday books.
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What type of birthday book?


Book cover of Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala)

Linda Whalen Author Of Little Red Rolls Away

From the list on dealing with emotions and change.

Who am I?

Often, people don’t understand the emotions of a child. The care and keeping of children have been my life focus as a mother of five, 4-H leader, Kindergarten aide, religious education teacher, and owner of Whalen’s Country Childcare. I hold dear the awe and wonder seen in the eyes of a child and hope to forever be inspired by the sight. Since my new book, Little Red Rolls Away was released, I have presented at schools, libraries, appeared in newspapers, magazines, and been featured on CBS Good Day Sacramento. Endorsements include filmmaker Joey Travolta, Founder and Creative Director, Inclusion Films, a company that aims to teach the art of filmmaking to people with developmental disabilities.

Linda's book list on dealing with emotions and change

Discover why each book is one of Linda's favorite books.

Why did Linda love this book?

The title explains the way children often feel…much too much! We tend to overdo it when wanting to give our children too much of most things. Children become overwhelmed as Maud did. This book is a wonderful way to show children how this can happen and help them understand more isn’t always better and sometimes a break is best. I especially like the note to caregivers in the back.

By J.E. Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Much Too Much Birthday (Maud the Koala) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maud the koala can't wait for her birthday party--until everything starts to feel way too overwhelming.

Maud is having a birthday party in her backyard, and she's invited her friends--all fifty-six of them--to celebrate with her. She's not worried, though. After all, you can never have too much birthday! But when the guests arrive and the party gets packed, she isn't so sure. What will happen if Maud can't bear her own birthday?

J. E. Morris's charming illustrations and comic-like panels make this a unique format with a narrative style perfect for storytime.

Molly Morningstar A Doll for Me

By Andrea Coke, M. Fernanda Orozco (illustrator),

Book cover of Molly Morningstar A Doll for Me: A Fun Story About Diversity, Inclusion, and a Sense of Belonging

Bobbie Hinman Author Of The Knot Fairy

From the list on children’s picture books by first-time authors.

Who am I?

As a former teacher, and grandmother of 13 now-grownup kids, I can’t begin to count the total number of children’s books I’ve read. A gazillion maybe? I have published 5 children’s books of my own and have read them to hundreds of classes all over the U.S. I have been an editor of children’s books for about 10 years and feel honored every time an author hands their precious manuscript over to me for assistance. I’ve read so, so many amazing books. It was difficult to name just a handful, but these books spoke to me, evoking emotions that stayed with me long after the last i was dotted and t was crossed. I hope you will feel that as well.

Bobbie's book list on children’s picture books by first-time authors

Discover why each book is one of Bobbie's favorite books.

Why did Bobbie love this book?

I always appreciate children’s books that are diverse. Children everywhere should be given the opportunity to see themselves in the stories they read. It’s important for adults to understand that what a child takes away from a storybook character can become a life-altering emotion. I found that emotion in this book. Molly Morningstar is a little girl with a problem: She can’t find a doll that looks like her! Sure, the dolls all look like her classmates, but not one looks like Molly. In refusing to settle for just any other doll, Molly finds the perfect solution to the problem. What if she could make a doll? I love the emotion, fortitude, and creativity shown by our shining star, Molly Morningstar.

By Andrea Coke, M. Fernanda Orozco (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Molly Morningstar A Doll for Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When you were young, did your dolls look like you?

Molly Morningstar is a problem-solving, spunky little girl with a problem.

She needs a doll for an important party, and she can’t find one that looks like her!

Molly's parents are used to it,resigned even - but not Molly!

What does she do after searching EVERYWHERE, only to find that doll after doll, they ALL look the same??

Determined to not settle, Molly finds the solution to this big problem herself!

Every child deserves to see themselves represented in books, toys and dolls. Grab this fun story today and support…

One Word from Sophia

By Jim Averbeck, Yasmeen Ismail (illustrator),

Book cover of One Word from Sophia

Judy Lea Author Of Please Don't Go in the Dryer!

From the list on laugh out loud children’s books about pets.

Who am I?

I’m a semi-retired music teacher and grandmother of two. When my kids were little, we would devour books like they were delicious candy, reading our favourites over and over again. I still love reading out loud, using various inflections, accents, and voices for the different characters. I’ve read hundreds of children’s books and the ones I enjoy most have a great message, are fun to read out loud, and also make me laugh. And they must have beautiful, colourful illustrations! My first book is a spoken word piece from my WCMA-nominated CD, Too Much Work To Do. It’s been asking me to dream it into a book for years! 

Judy's book list on laugh out loud children’s books about pets

Discover why each book is one of Judy's favorite books.

Why did Judy love this book?

I loved this sweet, funny, feel-good book with its unusual, intelligent characters. Sophia is a very determined girl (with a wonderful Afro ponytail) who won’t stop pursuing her One True Desire—to have a giraffe! Her father (businessman), her mother (lawyer), her uncle (politician), and her grandmother (who is very strict), all have excellent reasons for saying no to all of her arguments, including the fact that she uses too many words. (Teaching her 3 new words along the way.) Despite compelling slideshows, graphs, pie charts, and foot rubs, she has no success, until…

The illustrations are delightful, colourful, and comical, bringing the characters to life, including the hard-won Giraffe. If you are a word lover like me, you will also love this book!

By Jim Averbeck, Yasmeen Ismail (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Word from Sophia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sophia tries varied techniques to get the giraffe she wants more than anything in this playfully illustrated story about the nuances of negotiation.

Sophia has one true desire for her birthday. But she has Four Big Problems in the way: Mom, Dad, Uncle Conrad...and Grand-mama.

Will her presentations, proposals, and pie charts convince them otherwise?

Turns out, all it takes is one word.

11 Birthdays

By Wendy Mass,

Book cover of 11 Birthdays

Jessica Brody Author Of Amelia Gray Is Almost Okay

From the list on for tweens to make parents wonder what’s so funny.

Who am I?

Most people are surprised to hear I wasn’t a reader growing up. All the books I was assigned to read in school were too serious or sad. It wasn’t until I started reading comedy, that I really got into reading. Now, I read everything under the sun, but comedy is still what I love to write. I write the kind of books that I wish I had found as a tween. And to this day, the best compliment I receive is when a parent tells me one of my books made their kid laugh or better yet, turned their reluctant reader into a reader. As a writer, there’s no better feeling! 

Jessica's book list on for tweens to make parents wonder what’s so funny

Discover why each book is one of Jessica's favorite books.

Why did Jessica love this book?

Imagine if you relived your 11th birthday over and over?

The answer is found in the pages of Wendy Mass’s delightful, sweet, and funny page-turner, 11 Birthdays! Pick up this book if you want to add a little magic to your day. It even has a little mystery to it. Bonus!

By Wendy Mass,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked 11 Birthdays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's Amanda's 11th birthday and she is super excited-after all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. The worst part of it all is that she and her best friend, Leo, with whom she's shared every birthday, are on the outs and this will be the first birthday they haven't shared together. When Amanda turns in for the night, glad to have her birthday behind her, she wakes up happy for a new day. Or is it? Her birthday seems to be repeating itself. What is going on?! And how can she fix it?…

Bunny Party

By Rosemary Wells,

Book cover of Bunny Party

Nancy Shaw Author Of Sheep Trick or Treat

From the list on picture books about foolishness.

Who am I?

I’m the author of Raccoon Tune, Elena’s Story, and eight books about goofy sheep. My family didn’t get a TV until I was nine, so I used the library for entertainment. I liked all kinds of books. I’m still a voracious reader and I’m fascinated by the nuances of words. My kids loved silly books--especially where someone ignores the obvious--and so does my granddaughter. I also grew up playing with words. Once, on a car trip, I started rhyming about sheep driving a jeep, and even a preschooler knows you shouldn’t forget to steer. I think that seeing foolish characters in stories helps kids make sense of the world.

Nancy's book list on picture books about foolishness

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

Bossy, responsible Ruby is planning Grandma’s birthday party, and as usual, little brother Max has his own ideas. Ruby has invited her dolls to the party, but Max places his favorites—like the Ear-Splitter Space Cadetat the table, swiping costume bits off Ruby’s dolls to disguise the imposters. Ruby is confused by the extra guests: “It must be a bad counting day. We need another chair.” Young readers will see what’s really happening—and Max’s facial expressions emphasize what he’s up to. What will Grandma think of the unusual guests?

By Rosemary Wells,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bunny Party as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excellent Book

Ten Rules for Faking It

By Sophie Sullivan,

Book cover of Ten Rules for Faking It

Barbara Claypole White Author Of The Unfinished Garden

From the list on romance to feature characters with mental illness.

Who am I?

The two people I love most, my husband and my son, manage obsessive-compulsive disorder. Their struggles constantly inspire me and illustrate the courage it takes to navigate everyday life with an invisible disability. We don’t talk enough about that courage. Instead, society passes judgment and shares OCD jokes. There’s nothing funny about a chronic, potentially fatal illness that demands lifelong management. After all, we don’t laugh at diabetics, and people aren’t defined by their disabilities. (Think of Helen Keller’s achievements!) My passion is to create characters who chip away at the stigma, shame, and stereotypes of mental illness. They also prove the mantra, “You are not your disorder.” Amen.

Barbara's book list on romance to feature characters with mental illness

Discover why each book is one of Barbara's favorite books.

Why did Barbara love this book?

Kudos to the author for creating a charming romance that brings readers deep inside crippling social anxiety. Taking it one step further, the novel shows how effectively someone—the heroine—can mask mental illness. Here is the heartbreaking reality: anxiety is easily hidden and often misread as anti-social behavior.

By Sophie Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ten Rules for Faking It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Impossible to read without smiling - escapist romantic comedy at its finest' Lauren Layne

'Once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down' Lyssa Kay Adams

What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?

As birthdays go, this year Everly Dean has hit rock bottom.

If catching her boyfriend cheating with his assistant wasn't enough, Everly's rant about Simon the Snake, a.k.a. Cheating Ex, accidentally being broadcast live on the radio really sealed the deal...

When public humiliation turns her into a viral sensation with a string of potential dates, and suddenly there's…

Big Red Lollipop

By Rukhsana Khan, Sophie Blackall (illustrator),

Book cover of Big Red Lollipop

Naomi Danis Author Of Bye, Car

From the list on separation and belonging picture books.

Who am I?

I’m the author of picture books about feelings (I Hate Everyone), friendship (My Best Friend, Sometimes), and family (While Grandpa Napsand now, things that go (Bye, Car). I’ve also written about taking a bath and going for a walk. Wanting to be close and cared for, and at the same time, wanting to take even tentative steps toward independence is at the heart of the challenge of growing up for young children. Negotiating between the wish to belong and the wish to separate can be messy. The themes of connection, relationship, love, and ambivalence inspire much of my writing

Naomi's book list on separation and belonging picture books

Discover why each book is one of Naomi's favorite books.

Why did Naomi love this book?

In a heartfelt but also comic story, the eldest of three sisters in an immigrant family comes home from school with her first-ever birthday party invitation and much to her chagrin, her mom insists she must call the classmate to ask if she can bring along her annoying “I wanna go too!” sister. It’s hard having her sister with her at the party, and even worse when they get home.  I Iove the sibling rivalry, depicted so perfectly here, and the sibling love and family solidarity that goes with it.

By Rukhsana Khan, Sophie Blackall (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Big Red Lollipop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rubina has been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother, Ami, insists that she bring her little sister along. Rubina is mortified, but she can't convince Ami that you just don't bring your younger sister to your friend's party. So both girls go, and not only does Sana demand to win every game, but after the party she steals Rubina's prized party favor, a red lollipop. What's a fed-up big sister to do?

Rukhsana Khan's clever story and Sophie Blackall's irresistible illustrations make for a powerful combination in this fresh and surprising picture book.

The Eleventh Hour

By Graeme Base,

Book cover of The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery

Anne Lambelet Author Of Maria the Matador

From the list on picture books you can pore over for hours.

Who am I?

I’m Anne Lambelet, author-illustrator of Maria the Matador. The greatest compliment to any author-illustrator is that a child wants to keep spending time with your book after the first read-through is over. As an avid childhood reader who has maintained a passion for kid lit into my adulthood and my career, I’ve read a lot of picture books in my life, but the ones that have stuck with me are the ones that demanded a second, a third, even a fiftieth look. For that reason, I’ve chosen the following topic for my list of recommendations.

Anne's book list on picture books you can pore over for hours

Discover why each book is one of Anne's favorite books.

Why did Anne love this book?

Really anything by Graeme Base could go on this list. He’s a master of packing exquisite detail into every bit of a picture, but The Eleventh Hour particularly holds a special place in my heart. As a child I spent hours searching every page, decoding musical notes, ciphers, and hieroglyphics, unraveling both visual and verbal riddles trying to figure out “whodunit”. I even roped my parents into helping me find the clues, and I feel like they were just as enthralled as I was. The beautiful illustrations and rhyming verse would make this a fun story on its own, but the hidden mystery embedded in every page makes this book a masterpiece. 

By Graeme Base,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Eleventh Hour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Horace the elephant turns eleven, he celebrates instyle by inviting his exotic friends to a splendid costume party. But a mystery is afoot, for in the midst of the games, music, and revelry, someone has eaten the birthday feast. The rhyming text and lavish, detailed illustrations each provide clues, and it's up to the reader to piece them together and decide whodunit!"The fun of poring over the pictures is matched by the enjoyment derived from the textwitty, ingenious verses." -- Publishers WeeklyGraeme Base is the author of many award-winning books for children, including Animalia (Puffin), The Sign of the…

Battle Bunny

By Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Matt Myers (illustrator)

Book cover of Battle Bunny

Frans Vischer Author Of Fuddles

From the list on children’s books that tickled my toes.

Who am I?

Since I was a child I’ve loved comedy. Whether it’s Daffy Duck, the Pink Panther movies, or a Carl Hiaasen novel, I like to laugh and make people laugh. I grew up drawing cartoons, and as a Disney animator I learned the importance of creating characters that audiences could believe and empathize with. Humor has no geographic, religious, or racial boundaries – the human condition is universal, and humor speaks to us all, regardless of language. I strive to write and draw characters that connect with readers and then put them in silly, odd but believable situations to extract the maximum entertainment.

Frans' book list on children’s books that tickled my toes

Discover why each book is one of Frans' favorite books.

Why did Frans love this book?

I love this concept of a boy turning a saccharine, boring picture book called Birthday Bunny into Battle Bunny. A pencil his weapon of choice, he attacks the book, driven by his creativity, and turns it into a book he actually wants to read. A daring idea from the author, this hilarious and engaging book is something any young boy can relate to.

By Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Matt Myers (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Battle Bunny as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Encourage creativity with this wildly entertaining picture book mash-up from the minds of Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett.

Alex has been given a saccharine, sappy, silly-sweet picture book about Birthday Bunny that his grandma found at a garage sale. Alex isn’t interested—until he decides to make the book something he’d actually like to read. So he takes out his pencil, sharpens his creativity, and totally transforms the story!

Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny, and the rabbit’s innocent journey through the forest morphs into a supersecret mission to unleash an evil plan—a plan that only Alex can stop.

Featuring layered, original…

The Birthday Cake Mystery

By The Tjong-Khing,

Book cover of The Birthday Cake Mystery

Alison Farrell Author Of Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

From the list on for kids who delight in details.

Who am I?

From the ages of 1-4, my son Finn deeply rooted himself into the detailed world of Richard Scarry. These books could be such slow reads that we only needed two of them for long airplane rides. Through Finn’s love of Scarry books, I began searching for more books that delighted with detail. And when I did not see my family’s bicycle-rich lifestyle reflected in books, I created Cycle City.

Alison's book list on for kids who delight in details

Discover why each book is one of Alison's favorite books.

Why did Alison love this book?

The characters in this visual mystery can be followed on each spread in a myriad of storylines that surprise and delight. With so many complex plots, in order to truly appreciate this book, re-reading is a must! Whose birthday is it? What is the mystery? Why is it so difficult to make a cake for the party? Fiascos and disasters abound, a classic illustration style that would keep detail-loving kids reading for hours.

By The Tjong-Khing,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Birthday Cake Mystery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through a series of intricate illustrations, an animal village prepares for a birthday party and tries to solve the mystery of a stolen necklace.

Jenny's Birthday Book

By Esther Averill,

Book cover of Jenny's Birthday Book

Barbara Lehman Author Of Red Again

From the list on celebrating city life.

Who am I?

I especially love books for children that capture city life in a way that feels both unique and child scaled. I have set most of my books in cities because I love the story possibilities that exist in what are almost entirely human-made environments. Paradoxically, city settings make any kind of connection to the natural world or animals even more important. On this list are all books I feel show a particularly special aspect of city life for children.

Barbara's book list on celebrating city life

Discover why each book is one of Barbara's favorite books.

Why did Barbara love this book?

This is an endearing book with soothingly simple charm. It is a tale of a shy cat celebrating her birthday with a gang of cat friends set in 1950s Greenwich Village. In this quiet book, the sublime high point of action is a double page spread of the cat celebrants earnestly dancing “The Sailor’s Hornpipe” in a moonlit Washington Square Park.

By Esther Averill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jenny's Birthday Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's a big day for Jenny Linsky, the shy little black cat of Greenwich Village, when her brothers, Checkers and Edward, take her out for her birthday. They pick up her notorious friends along the way, including the twins Romulus and Remus, who have brought a special present, and Pickles, the Fire Cat, who gathers everyone into his red fire truck to take them to the park. There they will invite friends and strangers to share a picnic supper and dance the night away. Join Jenny and her friends in their romp around town in this beautiful birthday story!