birthday books to read with your preschooler

January 12, 2010

Juliet turned 3 last week and I have been busy with birthday preparations (she requested a mermaid birthday party--more on that later, I promise!)

My friend Julie (of pancake fame) told me about a tradition she has with her daughter--a birthday book box. They have a box of birthday-themed books that she brings out especially for the month of her daughter's birthday. They read these books all throughout the month and then when it is over, they put them away until the next year. (By the way, she recently started a new blog called Anyways--check it out!)

I thought this was a fun and special way to use books to celebrate a child's birthday. We do the same thing with our Christmas books (bring them out every December and then pack them away until next year), so I thought this would work really well.

I didn't have time to search for special birthday books for our box this year, but I did go through our collection and pulled ten that feature a birthday scene in them (you know, cake, party hats, candles, etc.)

So here are our top ten birthday books scenes from some of our favorite books:

1. Charlotte and the White Horse by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Okay, so this is not one of our favorite books as far as stories go, but I do LOVE the illustrations. (Maurice Sendak never disappoints.) Why is the horse crying? Because it's his party and he can cry if he wants to.

2. A Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats

I love Peter and this picture of him blowing out his candles with his dog Willie. Have you read The Snowy Day and A Whistle for Willie yet?

3. Never Tease a Weasel by Jean Condor Soule, Illustrated by Denman Hampson

How many times can I mention this book on my blog? Apparently, not enough! Here it is again...sorry for the overkill, but this party-ready duck is too cute to resist.

4. Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

This dog party is one of our all-time favorite parties. For a long time I was hoping to recreate this as her party theme. But then she requested mermaids, so I had to set it aside. Maybe next year we can have a dog party.

5. Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman

Do hatch-days count? I think they do. This tiny bird has quite the adventure on his first hatch-day. This is one that I remember reading with my mother when I was a little girl.

This is one of those vintage Hallmark books that I picked up at goodwill. I know nothing about it except that it is really beautiful and Juliet adores it. It really is about a birthday party (unlike most of the other books in this list that just feature a party in them.) Do you see the clock hands? They really turn. This is part of the appeal.

7. Wee Mouses Peekaboo House by Jean Hirashima

This is a board book that we loved to read together when Juliet was a one-year old. I dug it out of storage because we love this birthday party image so much. Little Marty is having a party. I remember spending lots of time pouring over all the details of the party with my little Juliet. Her favorite part was the big bowl of blueberries.

8. The Little Kitten by Judy Dunn

Did you read these books as a kid? I had the one about a duck. I kept looking and looking for it when Juliet was first born and could never find it. I did find all the other versions, the goat, the rabbit, the kitty...finally, my mom discovered my old copy in her attic, so now I have that one, too. This one features Pickle the kitten who gets into trouble at Jenny's birthday party. I love the 70s/80s party gear. I think I sported that knee-high/jumper look at my birthday parties, too.

9. A New Dress for Maya by Malorie Blackman

I love the images in this book--the watercolor is beautiful. Maya wants a store-bought dress, but has to "settle" for one her mother makes. This is a nice reminder that not getting what you want may not always be a bad thing.

10. Little Bear's Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

We'll start and end with Sendak. Little Bear is one of Juliet's all time favorites and this party at owl's is one we read about often.

Do you have any favorite birthday books? What would you put in your birthday box?

I'm linking up to OhAmanda for Top Ten Tuesday! Check out her site for more great top ten lists!


Blondie said...

What a great idea!

Mandi @ It's come to this said...

How fun!! Great idea ... I'll have to stock up on some of these for bedtime around the birthdays:)

Barrie said...

Love the idea of a birthday book box! I think it would also be fun to find out how birthdays are celebrated in other countries and incorporate some of those traditions. Found you through the Comment Challenge!

Infant Bibliophile said...

How funny - we have Go, Dog, Go! and it definitely doesn't have that illustration in it (or any party scene). There must be different versions! We love Are You My Mother. The only obvious birthday one that comes to mind that we have is Who Are You Sue Snue, an out of print Dr. Seuss book that doesn't get much love in its amazon reviews (

adjunctmom said...

We love the Birthday Box by Leslie Petracelli. My son swears by it and we start reading it at least a month before his birthday.

Bill said...

Another great birthday book with awesome illustrations for the book box is Not Last Night But the Night Before by Colin McNaughton the kids in the library loved it.

Kelly said...

I like that idea of a birthday box! We own Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss. It's very cute and Seussical! We also have Biscuit's Birthday. I recently read on another blog about Happy Birthday Bad Kitty. I want to get that one, too! Thanks for sharing yours!!

Terry Doherty said...

Oh, I love this idea. Yes, Hatch Day should most definitely count ... it was one of my now 8YO's first favorite, and what a great way to celebrate than with something beloved. We have a box of Christmas books, but I'd never thought of birthdays. I think I'll start going through the shelves tomorrow! If you want to go beyond PBs, then you might like Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle! and A Birthday Present for Mama.

I'm so glad to have found your blog ... I've added you to my reader.

Ana said...

I love the finds! I looked everywhere for Birthday books last year but found 0 at out local bookstore, thanks for posting this Vanessa I will keep them in mind.

Rasco from RIF said...

Vanessa, thank you for earlier stopping by Rasco from RIF...this Comment Challenge is great, is it not? I am quite taken with this posting. My first grandchild turns 1 in April, and I am going to carry out this idea and start a box of birthday books for him. One of our family's more recent favorite birthday books is BUNNY CAKES by Rosemary Wells. My daughter has collected Christmas books (children's titles as well as adult stories) for many years which she puts under the tree. We of course this year added even more children's books to that collection that goes away on New Year's Day. I love this traditon and appreciate the other titles guests to this posting have suggested. Thanks to all!

Brimful Curiosities said...

The board book "Birthday Monsters!" by Sandra Boynton is good for little ones. My kids also love "Spot Bakes a Cake" by Eric Hill (he's preparing for his dad's birthday in this one.) There's also "Curious George and the Birthday Surprise."

Raising a Happy Child said...

Happy birthday to Juliet - I didn't realize before that our girls are so close in age. I also like the idea of birthday box and bookmarked this post for future reference.

Storm said...

I do a Christmas book basket for the month of December. I like this idea and will have to remember this for my kids' birthdays. Happy TT.

oh amanda said...

OK. Best idea ever. I do this for Christmas books but had never thought about birthday books!!

I do love the Little Bear birthday story. I just found If you Give a Cat A Cupcake...that would be a cute birthday book. Also, Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Yum Yummy Birthday Cake is a good one.

Have you read the Dr. Suess Birthday book? It was kinda weird for me.

Chels said...

I was excited to find Mr. Men birthday books at Target to put in our new birthday book collection!

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