The most recommended birthday books

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to birthday, and here are their favorite birthday books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of birthday book?


Book cover of It's My Party and I Don't Want to Go

Elizabeth James Author Of Pippa Speaks Up!

From my list on books for kids with anxiety (that actually help!).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve struggled with anxiety since childhood, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I even realized that I could do something about my anxiety. Then, when my seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed and began therapy for her anxiety, I knew other kids deserved to learn these tools, too. No child should have to suffer with anxiety like I did for years. Instead, it’s my hope that through fiction books like these, kids can identify with these characters suffering from anxiety, see themselves in their stories, and be equipped to manage their anxiety so that they can flourish in their lives—starting right now.

Elizabeth's book list on books for kids with anxiety (that actually help!)

Elizabeth James Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Ellie endeared herself to me as I read the ridiculous lengths to which she would go to avoid—no, sabotage—her own bat mitzvah simply to escape her extreme anxiety (and selective mutism).

But while the food fight and faking her own death were entertaining, what was most compelling was how the author pulled back the curtain not only on her Jewish faith and heritage but also on her panic attacks. As well as the coping techniques that she learned throughout the story to tame them in a way that made the little girl in me—also horrified at the thought of speaking, let alone singing, in front of a crowd—feel empowered not only to recognize my own anxiety but to also realize that I can do something about it. 

By Amanda Panitch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's My Party and I Don't Want to Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

A funny, feel-good story of friendship, being brave and
believing in yourself.

Perfect for fans of Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott, Cath
Howe and Sarah Hagger-Holt.

Ellie Katz is sabotaging her own party.

Crowds and attention have always made her nervous. And lately
they've been making it harder for Ellie to breathe.

The bat mitzvah celebration would mean:

(1) a large crowd;

(2) lots of staring;

and (3) family listening to her sing in another language.

No, thank you!
To avoid certain catastrophe, Ellie hatches a plan to ruin the
big day. Everything is falling apart perfectly, until she

Book cover of Bunny Party

Nancy Shaw Author Of Sheep Trick or Treat

From my list on picture books about foolishness.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Nancy Shaw 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

Book cover of 11 Birthdays

Jessica Brody Author Of Amelia Gray Is Almost Okay

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Jessica Brody 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. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

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?…

Book cover of Birthday Girl

J.D. Astra Author Of Brutal Rival

From J.D.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Smut connoisseur Fantasy devourer 3-Star chef Dungeon master

J.D.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

J.D. Astra Why did J.D. love this book?

This is contemporary with a huge age gap and some taboo subjects like dating your son’s ex-girlfriend. Despite all the discomfort I felt while reading this book, I couldn’t stop.

The characters were incredibly well crafted, and the taboo part of the story was not glossed over like in “The Doctor.” The characters feel a wide range of emotions you expect them to as they go through this journey.

Did I mention the smut is impeccable? You will feel things, and those things will make you question yourself morally as this 19-year-old girl consents to the most cheek-heating things from a 48-year-old man. 

I feel a little icky saying I loved this book, but I did. I really did.

By Penelope Douglas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

True love comes from the most forbidden places in this TikTok smash hit from New York Times bestselling author Penelope Douglas, now with bonus material!

Jordan has nowhere else to go when her boyfriend offers to let her move in with him and his dad. Working a dead-end job, with her relationship sputtering, she jumps at the opportunity, expecting to help out around the house in exchange.  What she doesn’t anticipate is for her heart to race every time Pike pulls into the driveway, or to burn when their eyes meet over the breakfast table. He’s kind and listens to…

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Bobbie Hinman 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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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…

Book cover of Big Red Lollipop

Naomi Danis Author Of Bye, Car

From my list on separation and belonging picture books.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Naomi Danis 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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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.

Book cover of One Word from Sophia

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Judy Lea 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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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.

Book cover of Jenny's Birthday Book

Barbara Lehman Author Of Red Again

From my list on celebrating city life.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Barbara Lehman 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!


Book cover of The Birthday Cake Mystery

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

From my list on for kids who delight in details.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Alison Farrell 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.

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

Linda Whalen Author Of Little Red Rolls Away

From my list on dealing with emotions and change.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Linda Whalen 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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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.