Everyone loves a good birthday party, but it’s fair to say that little kids love them most of all—as demonstrated by the many, many children’s books about such celebrations. These three illustrated works, all recommended by Kirkus Indie, tell birthday tales that also teach young readers important lessons about the world in which they live.

In Philip M. Carr-Harris’ I Remember My Eighth Birthday (2022), illustrated by Jo Spencer, the narrator goes on a scavenger hunt on their eighth birthday and learns about the history of various things they find, which include a Canaanite pottery fragment and a trilobite fossil. Our reviewer notes that the book offers a “leisurely, evocative” journey in which “the promise of history in everyday objects will draw those interested in the echoes of the past.”

Birthday Acts of Kindness: The Gift of Food (2020) by Elizabeth Harr Pineda, featuring illustrations by Kaeden Stewart, tells the story of a boy named Alex, who, after learning about the important work of food banks, makes a decision that will help people in need on his eighth birthday. “Pineda does an excellent job of balancing Alex’s authentic feelings about wanting things for himself with his pride in the result of his kindness,” Kirkus’ reviewer writes.

Victor D.O. Santos’ Dylan’s Birthday Present (2020) offers a story that highlights the advantages of speaking more than one language. In the book, illustrated by Eszter Miklós, young Dylan, who speaks Portuguese, Ukrainian, and English at home, teams up with his South Africa–born friend Emma, who speaks Zulu and English, to find the boy’s missing pet chicken (which he just received as a birthday gift). The kids’ language knowledge ends up saving the day. Kirkus’ reviewer calls the work “a friendly approach to the pleasures of multilingualism.”

David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.