Inside: 20+ books about cake for kids: delightful and exciting picture books for elementary grades and board books for the little ones.
It’s been said “a party without a cake is just a meeting,” and I haven’t met anyone who would disagree with this statement. Do you? Can you imagine a birthday party without a cake? What about a wedding?
I love a good homemade cake! I especially enjoy a made-in-the-pan, mouthwatering chocolate cake that my kids can create completely on their own (it’s my sons’ specialty). Or a light and fluffy bundt cake that my daughter made for me recently. Yep, I have talented little chefs in my home.
But you know what’s even more enjoyable than eating cake? Eating cake while reading a good book about it!
Here to help you celebrate National Cake Day on November 26th is a list of delightful and yummy books about cakes.
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A Piece of Cake by LeUyen Pham
If you get only one book from this list, make it this one. The first time you read it, the unexpected twists of the plot will surprise you, and every time you read it after that, you will find something new to talk about. When Mouse makes a cake for Little Bird’s birthday, he doesn’t know what commotion his cake is going to cause in the neighborhood or that this cake will be the first step in the chain of surprising events.
All my kids laugh a lot throughout the book. It’s enough for me to assume the voice I reserve for reading this book aloud and say, “Cow, my dear…” and they burst out laughing. The book is written and illustrated in the classic fairy tale tradition. It explores kindness, generosity, friendship, positive attitudes, inventiveness, quick thinking, and creativity.
Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson
Size is relative, and when it comes to love (and cake), more is better. That’s exactly Grandpa’s mindset when he sets out to bake a cake for Grandma’s birthday. “Recipe says four fresh eggs. In go eighty-six. Recipe says two cups of flour. Ten go in the mix. (Ten bags, that is… ).”
It’s a funny tale told in a playful rhyme that makes us laugh out loud and reach for our baking aprons. There is a whopper cake recipe at the end of the book that makes this book even more memorable.
Snickerdoodle Takes the Cake by Ethan Long
Do you expect a humorous plot and fun illustrations from Ethan Long, award-winning author and illustrator of over a hundred books? If you do, you won’t be disappointed. When Snickerdoodle, a cake-loving bunny, cannot resist touching Mom’s famous Lemon Poppy Seed Cake and wrecks it, the family has a problem. The beautiful cake is a birthday present for Grandma, and with the party just a few hours away, they have to act fast.
Kids will identify with Snickerdoodle’s difficulty at waiting to eat a yummy cake. They’ll also understand Snickerdoodle’s desire to fall through the floor from embarrassment because he screwed up. Even more appealing is the sweet relationship between the family members and the delight they take in family celebrations.
Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan
All of my kids adore this funny book about Betty Bunny who loves a chocolate cake (perhaps) a bit too much. The watercolor illustrations are vibrant, the plot is thick, and it’s a great pleasure for kids to feel wiser than Betty Bunny.
When Betty Bunny decides to keep a piece of chocolate cake in her pocket, they know she is making a mistake. And when Betty Bunny insists she will marry a chocolate cake when she grows up, they laugh “It’s not possible!” And add, “Right, Mom?”
While you are at the library, get the other four laugh-out-loud books in the Betty Bunny series.
Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins
In this sweet book, featuring cakes, giant cyclopses, and good manners, there is lots of humor and wisdom. When the pink, two-layer cake doesn’t say “thank you” for his birthday present, takes a toy that doesn’t belong to him, and ignores his parents’ requests to go to bed (“bedtime is for donut holes”), we know something is about to happen to teach him a lesson.
“I know where it’s going,” said one of my kids when a giant cyclopses picks up the rude cake and brings it up to his face. “Rude cake is going to get eaten.” Nope! What happens next will defy your expectations. When it comes to teaching kids that no one “is ever too rude to change,” this book definitely takes the cake.
Marigold Bakes a Cake by Mike Malbrough
The illustrations in this book are truly fabulous, but plot… hmmm, I’m not so sure. However, when I was sorting the books for this post, and my kids noticed that I put it into the “NO” pile, they got very excited. “You must include it, Mom! It’s such a funny book about being frustrated.” So here it is. Marigold is a calm and cool, bow-tie wearing orange cat that loves to bake.
Monday is reserved for baking, and no visitors are allowed. But on this particular occasion, birds keep bursting in and making a mess of his kitchen. Marigold never gets to bake his cake after all, and as my ten-year-old wishfully noted, “I wish they had included just one more page where they clean up all that mess.”
As a busy mom, whose pursuit of personal hobbies always get interrupted by a swarm of loud (but adorable) kids, I feel for Marigold. As a critic, I feel the story is missing a closure, a satisfying ending: be it cleaning up the mess or baking a cake.
Cake Girl by David Lucas
Oh, I just love, love, love Cake Girl and my kids do too. I get requests to read it all the time. It contains all the perfect ingredients of a well-loved story: a magical plot, a set of delightful characters, and funny cartoon-ish illustrations. When a lonely witch bakes herself a Cake Girl, a cake shaped girl who comes alive (aka Gingerbread man), the witch is planning to eat her (Cake Girl) for her birthday. But the clever girl comes up with a way to change the witch’s mind.
We discover the real reason the witch is mean is that she doesn’t know how to change. If you’ve been around small children, you know that sometimes they lack social skills, and other times they get locked in a bad mood because they don’t know how to snap out of it. So this book is a great way to address both issues. “Perhaps you could help me?” says Cake Girl. Yes, helping someone is the best way to snap out of self-misery and also to make friends.
A Birthday Cake for Mr. Washington by Ramin Ganeshram
The house is filling with dignified guests, and Mrs. Washington is worried about the cake. “Not to worry, Lady Washington,” says Hercules, the head chef, but in fact, he has a big problem. There isn’t a drop of sugar in the whole house, and it’s snowing too hard to go out and search for it. What is he to do? You will enjoy reading about his solution. The book offers a glimpse into the life of the first president of the United States that might shock the kids: “He had slaves? No way, mom!”
A nice touch is the original family recipe from Mrs. Washington at the end of the book. We made a gluten-free version of this bundt cake. Though not everyone in the family liked it (“too many raisins”), we enjoyed exploring history through food.
Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake by Cynthia Rylant
Have you ever tried to bake a cake as a present? That’s exactly what Mr. Putter decides to do— to bake a light and airy cake for his best friend in a Christmas tree shape. The only problem is that he doesn’t know how.
It’s a great story about overcoming fears and “I don’t know hows,” embracing mistakes, and practicing patience. Mr. Putter’s cakes fall flat, catch fire, and refuse to leave the pan, but he doesn’t give up, and we love him for it.
Mr. Putter & Tabby series are fun and engaging. My kids can’t get enough of the adventures of an old gentleman and his cat.
Eight Animals Bake a Cake by Susan Middleton Elya
When eight animals get together, each bearing a special ingredient for baking a cake, you know it’s going to be a great book about teamwork. But then halfway into the story, the cat and dog get in a fight and drop the cake. “I didn’t see it coming,” said one of my sons.
Don’t worry! There is a solution to their problem. It’s called upside-down cake. We followed the recipe at the end of the book to bake a gluten-free version of what the animals baked (and if we do it again, we’ll cut the amount of sugar in half).
The rhyming text masterfully weaves together English and Spanish words for animals and food. This book makes learning Spanish fun. “Cat brings the butter, so creamy and thick. ‘Fresh mantequilla,’ says Gato, ‘one stick.’” There is a pronunciation guide for the Spanish words.
Who Made This Cake? By Chihiro Nakagawa
Do you have a construction site lover in your family? Then this cake book is for you. How delightful it would be if a mother could invite a tiny-sized construction crew over to bake a cake for her son’s birthday. They could use their tiny construction vehicles to crash the eggs, mix the ingredients, pour them in a pan, and load the pan in the oven. Of course, it would be hard work because the crew is tiny and the cake is enormous.
Whether or not your child has a birthday coming up, this book is sure to appeal. Just prepare for a request for a construction-site cake after your kids read this book. Making it was easier than I expected. I ordered this construction-site topper set and added it to the cake to great effect. My kids were happy.
Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off by Herman Parish
Imagine if someone asked you to run a bakery for a day and when you arrive at work, you’re instructed to “start every recipe from scratch.” What do you do? Scratch your partner’s back, of course. And when the note says to cut the recipe in half, you pick up a recipe card and cut it in half, right?
Amelia Bedelia is famous for taking things literally, even more than she is famous for her cakes. But not to worry. All of her mistakes result in comical effect, and she wins a grumpy Chef Du Jour over with her sheet cake. The recipe is at the end of the book. It’s very basic (no eggs, milk, or fancy ingredients), which makes it easy for kids to make on their own. (We didn’t like the taste though).
The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake: A Book about Kitchen Chemistry by Joanna Cole
Mrs. Frizzle’s kids are busy baking a cake for her birthday. However, they are so tiny that the bakery owner thinks they’re flies and tries to get them with a fly swatter. Oh wait: it’s not the only problem. The kids have an even bigger problem when they get baked in the cake. But don’t worry. With a bit of magic, nobody gets hurt, and they end up learning a lot about the science of cake making. You will too.
Ruby Bakes a Cake by Susan Hill
Ruby, a cute little raccoon, wants to bake a cake, but she doesn’t know how. She gathers suggestions from all of her friends that range from carrots tops and nuts to snails and worms. Hmmm…she wonders as she bakes the cake. At first, you get the impression that it all is going to work out. Nope! The cake is disgusting, but we learn that Ruby has some very good-mannered friends.
This reminds me of our cello teacher. When we play so poorly that there is nothing positive to say, she says cheerfully, “Yay! You made it to the end!” This is a great book to talk about failed experiments, friendships, and the power of positive words.
Froggy Bakes a Cake by Jonathan London
Don’t you love it when little kids get busy in the kitchen baking Mom a cake for her birthday? It all seems wonderful until they turn the kitchen upside down in the process, and their cake explodes inside the oven. But it’s the thought that counts and Froggy’s mommy is all smiles, blowing a candle out on her freshly made mud cake seconds before it slides to the ground. The whole family then happily hops to the bakery in search of a real birthday cake. (I can’t help but wonder who is going to be cleaning raw eggs and melted butter off the kitchen floor).
Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
A storm is coming, and an old woman and her scared granddaughter are rushing to gather the ingredients to make a cake, a thunder cake. By the time the little girl gathers eggs from the hen that likes to peck, and milk from the cow that likes to kick, and flour from a scary shed, and tomatoes hanging from trellises that are way too high, she is convinced she is a very brave person.
This book, like all other Polacco books, is enjoyable in so many ways: rich characters, great plot, and engaging storytelling manner. But I especially love its amazing folk-art illustrations that reveal the author’s Russian roots and background in Greek painting and iconographic history.
Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells
Ruby wants to bake a cake for her grandma, but her toddler brother Max keeps messing things up. He drops the eggs, spills the milk, and knocks over a bag of flour. Not only is he naturally clumsy, but he also is working on a secret agenda of obtaining Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters for his own version of a birthday cake. Most siblings will identify with the bossy manner of big sister Ruby and the annoying immaturity of toddler Max.
The funniest part of the book is Max’s repeated failed attempts to “write” a note to the grocer. No matter what version of scribbling on notepaper Max tries, it doesn’t make sense to the grocer. Reading this book marked that special moment when my second son decided to learn how to write. He suddenly started spending large chunks of time each day copying down the titles of his favorite books (starting with Bunny Cakes). So if you read this book at just the right time of your child’s development, it might be the right impetus to learning writing.
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The first time we were reading this book, my kids kept bringing their hands to their mouths and whispering, “I can’t believe it.” This is the first time they had come across a book where the main character appears butt naked. And it’s not just his butt you see; there’s plenty of frontal nudity, too.
I’m not prudish, so I don’t have any problems with a bit of nudity. What I have a problem with is deciphering the full meaning of this book (i.e., what is the symbolic meaning of “milk”?) A little boy falls out of his clothes (by the way, it happens all the time at our house) and ends up naked in the kitchen. He almost gets baked in a cake by three little fat men with Hitler style mustaches (which according to Sendak himself is a reference to the Holocaust) and proclaims, “I’m not the milk, and the milk’s not me! I’m Mickey!” Which then is followed by “I’m in the milk, and the milk’s in me. God Bless Milk and God Bless Me!”
Get this Caldecott Honor book just to see what you can make of it, to see the controversial illustrations, and to decide for yourself if it’s worthy of all the fuss it has created in the almost 50 years since it’s publication.
Let’s not forget the little kids!
Pat-a-Cake by Mary Brigid Barrett
This is my toddler’s favorite book at the moment. Every day we read it a dozen times after breakfast, a dozen times before a nap, and two dozen times before bedtime. My daughter loves it when I bounce her on my lap in tune with a bouncy rhyme: “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, clap, clap, clap. Pat a pudding, wibble, wobble. Pat a puddle, splat.”
There is a lot to see and explore on each page: food items, birds, and a fuzzy caterpillar. I especially love it when my daughter ”reads” the book to me in her cute little beginner talker voice: “Daddy hug, mommy hug, winkle-winkle” as in “twinkle-twinkle little star” about the stars on the last page.
The Fairytale Cake by Mark Sperring
Do you read many nursery rhymes and fairy tales with your children? If yes, they will absolutely delight in recognizing the well-known characters on the pages of this colorful picture book: Little Red Riding Hood in her famous cape, yawning Sleeping Beauty, and Humpty-Dumpty to name a few. And when they all get together to bake a cake, things get truly exciting.
Humorous drawings, rhyming text, and playful plot are exactly the things that a busy toddler needs to find a book interesting. There are just a couple of words on each page spread, making it an ideal choice for this age group. The older siblings feel wise and mature pointing out the characters they recognize when they are reading this book for their little brother or sister.
Pat-a-cake by Annie Kubler
This is a classic nursery rhymes book featuring all the old classics, including Pat-a-cake. We are on our third copy of this book. No, it doesn’t mean my kids are too rough with their books. It means that this book is awesome. To give you an example, when my third child was born my second child was two-years-old, and every single night after my new baby went to sleep, we would read this book cover-to-cover, acting out all the nursery rhymes. I highly recommend this book if you want to bond with your toddler over books and giggles.
Where’s Baby’s Birthday Cake by Karen Katz
It’s baby’s birthday, and the cake is missing. What’s the baby to do? Look for it, of course. Each page offers a large lift-the-flap opportunity and bright images of gifts, party hats, balloons, ice-cream, and more. Each time I have a toddler, we read this book over and over. They love to “peek” behind a sofa and under the bed, “open” the refrigerator door and everywhere else the cake might hide. The discovery of a birthday cake on the last page is always greeted with loud sounds of approval. The flaps in our book have been taped and re-taped multiple times, and one is actually missing. Definitely a fun book for toddlers!
Do you have a favorite book about a cake?