We recently bought a book as a first birthday gift, and I shared our experience on our facebook page. I admit that I did get a little worked up about finding the ‘perfect’ book, but that’s because I have strong opinions about books as gifts. Some of you asked how I consider a book to be suitable for a birthday gift. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you. Feel free to share some of your own.

Books given as birthday gifts, especially first birthday gifts,  need to be extra special.

I’m not sure whether everyone will agree with me on this, but when I give a book as a birthday gift, I expect it to be more meaningful than a book that a child might receive while on a random visit to the bookstore.

A birthday book gift deserves to be so special that you proudly write a message on the inside cover for the child to read for many years to come.

In my mind, it needs to be a book that the child can begin reading and enjoying straight away, but also be a book that they can either continue to enjoy for years to come or become one that becomes a meaningful keepsake.

Books you receive on your first birthday should NEVER be thrown away. They are the books that should be kept forever and passed on to children and grandchildren.

So what do I look for when I’m trying to find a book for a first birthday gift?

I can’t actually give you a Top 10 list of books to buy for a first birthday, because I believe the book needs to be meaningful or significant for the individual child.

However, when I’m looking for a first birthday book, I try to find one that features at least one of the following elements:

a) A book with a significant year:

Find a book that was published the year the child was born. Even better, find a book that won/received an award the year the child was born. Some children’s book  awards  include:

Children’s Book Council of Australia

The Australian Book Industry Awards

The Indie Book Awards (The Australian Independent Booksellers Association)

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

b) A book with a significant character:

Find a book whose character shares the same name as the child receiving the book.

c) A classic or timeless book:

I actually rarely buy classics  (e.g. The Hungry Caterpillar) for children because I’m always afraid the family will already have a copy. In this instance, I’m actually referring to a classic as a book that has a timeless storyline: a story that can be enjoyed by children of all ages.

d) A story which matches the child’s personality or circumstance:

I try to find a story that describes a child’s personality (gentle, giving, adventurous, shy) or their life-circumstance (birth order, age, place of birth, first year of school, special interest etc.)

e) A book with a life-empowering message

I also can’t look past a book that will give the child a positive message to live by as they take their own life journey.

f) And if all else fails, buy a birthday themed book:

At least you’ll know that this book will be fished out of the bookcase and read at least once a year.

Please let us know how you choose books to give as gifts.



  1. I’m a book giver for all children’s birthday’s whether 1st or into their teens as I cosider that it’s not just a gift for the day but for life long love of reading and imagination.

    I try and hunt out books that I know will grow but aren’t the typical books people may get so they are generally less well known and the kids that I get them for love them.

  2. I absolutely agree with you, a first birthday book is extra special, and a handwritten note inside the cover is an absolute must! This post is so timely, I have a 1st birthday coming up that I need to buy for and was thinking about a book or two. I love the ideas you’ve come up with here, they will help me greatly, so thank you!

  3. Jen said: On May 23, 2012

    I like to give Love You Forever by Robert Munsch to non-Canadians (as Canadians already have it!

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