Numeroff was born in Brooklyn, New York, and is the youngest of three girls. As a child, Numeroff was an avid reader, and by the age of 9 had decided she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She credits her current profession to two specific childhood favorites, claiming that they "are the reason" she is a writer: E. B. White's Stuart Little and Kay Thompson's Eloise.
When it came time for Numeroff to apply for college, she decided not to become a writer. Instead, she followed her sister's footsteps and majored in fashion. Eventually though, Numeroff decided that fashion "wasn't for me", so she went back to her childhood dream of becoming a writer, and began taking a class on writing. A homework assignment for one of these classes prompted Numeroff to write the story Amy for Short. In 1976 the story was published by Macmillan Publishing, launching Laura Joffe Numeroff's writing career.
Numeroff has worked with numerous illustrators including Lynn Munsinger, David McPhail, Tim Bowers, Nate Evans, Joe Mathieu, Sal Murdocca, Sharleen Collicott, and Felicia Bond; Felicia Bond is the illustrator of the If You Give . . .™ series. When Numeroff began her career she served as her own illustrator; her first 9 books were both written and illustrated by Numeroff herself. Since her editor chose Felicia Bond to illustrate Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book, she has not illustrated another book. When asked about her earlier endeavors into illustrations during an interview, she mentioned that though she loves drawing, she decided her "strength was in writing and not in illustration" and said "I don't think I would illustrate a whole book anymore at this point".
Her autobiography, If You Give an Author a Pencil, was published in 2003; it is written at a second grade reading level so that it is also accessible to children. Numeroff's books have been published in many languages. Numeroff resides in Los Angeles, California.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, published in 1985 and illustrated by Felicia Bond, was the book that launched the hit If You Give... series. It was rejected by publishers nine times before it was finally accepted by Harper. These stories use a circular story format, presenting to the reader a chain of events. At the end of the story, the reader discovers that the characters have ended up in the same event that they started with. It is also considered a cautionary tale where the moral is that when given something out of kindness, people will continue to ask for more. The entire story is an "If ____________ , then ___________" scenario . If You Give a Mouse a Cookie spawned numerous more books that expanded from the mouse to include the characters of a moose, a cat, a pig, and a dog.
The first book in this series by Numeroff, What Mommies Do Best/ What Daddies Do Best, published in April 2008, was illustrated, in watercolors, by Lynn Munsinger. The entire series was written for children ages 4 – 8. This children's book is a two part story. On one side of the book is What Mommies Do Best. This book demonstrates many of the great things that mommies do like: give piggyback rides, teach children how to ride a bicycle, and sew a button on a teddy bear. Following What Mommies Do Best, the book can be flipped to reveal What Daddies Do Best. This side illustrates all the special things that daddy does with his children. The stories are identical. Both mommy and daddy do the same things in each book. Subsequent books concern grandparents and aunts and uncles. What Mommies Do Best/ What Daddies Do Best uses different animals in brightly colored illustrations to show young children the things parents do that make them so special. Each illustration shows a different animal parent with their young child.
Bitsy loves to paint. Emily loves to dance. Anna loves to read. Nicole loves to play soccer. The first letters of their names spell the word, "BEAN". That is because they love jellybeans. Their favorite place is Petunia's, where they love to share their favorite candy – jellybeans. Just as jellybeans are different flavors but go well together, the girls are all different but get along great – and so they call themselves the JELLYBEANS.
In 2016, with co-creator Sean Hanrahan, Numeroff released the first book of a new children’s series celebrating dogs with incredible jobs. Raising a Hero supports Canine Companions for Independence and represents all those –human and canine– helping children, adults and veterans with disabilities and special needs. An avid animal lover, Laura has always wanted to write a book about service dogs.
Laura Numeroff's Ten Step Guide to Living with Your Monster, illustrated by Nate Evans, was published in April 2002 for children ages 4 – 8. This book gives kids a different idea about monsters. Instead of being afraid of them this story shows you how to make a monster a good pet. This guide outlines Numeroff's ten basic steps to buying, naming, and dealing with your pet monster. There are things you should know like choosing a monster that can tie its shoes, how to take your monster to the vet, not to choose a monster who tries to eat your shirt, and that "Fluffy" is not a good name for a monster. With each step is a bright, colorful illustration to help you choose your own pet monster. A portion of the profits from Laura Numeroff's Ten Step Guide to Living with Your Monster were donated to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
Phoebe Dexter Has Harriet Peterson's Sniffles, published in January 1977, tells the woeful tale of Phoebe Dexter who is stuck at home because she is sick. Upset that she is missing all the happenings of her school day, Phoebe busies herself pretending she is a dog and eventually playing Go Fish with her grandmother who comes over to keep her company. The book is both written and illustrated by Numeroff.
Laura Bush invited Numeroff and Bond to the White House to be honored for the If You Give... series at the "Laura Bush Celebrates American Authors" event. She has won numerous awards as author of the If You Give... Series including:California Young Reader Medal-1988
Colorado Children's Book Award-1988
Georgia Children's Picture Storybook Award-1988
Nevada Young Readers' Award-1989
Buckeye Children's Book Award-1989
Quill Award (If You Give a Pig a Party)-2006
Numeroff has also won awards for her individual stories including:The Milner Award-2007
Illustrated by Felicia BondIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985)
If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991)
If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998)
The Best Mouse Cookie (1999)
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000)
If You Take a Mouse to School (2002)
If You Give a Pig a Party (2005)
Merry Christmas, Mouse! (2007)
Time for School, Mouse! (2008)
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008)
Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse! (2009)
Happy Easter, Mouse! (2010)
If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011)
It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! (2012)
Happy Birthday, Mouse! (2012)
If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016)
What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best
What Grandmas Do Best/What Grandpas Do Best
What Aunts Do Best/What Uncles Do Best
What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best
Written by Nate Evans, illustrated by Lynn MunsingerThe Jellybeans and the Big Dance (Mar 1, 2008)
The Jellybeans and the Big Book Bonanza (Mar 1, 2010)
The Jellybeans and the Big Camp Kickoff (Mar 1, 2011)
The Jellybeans and the Big Art Adventure (Mar 1, 2012)
The Jellybeans Love to Dance (Mar 12, 2013)
The Jellybeans Love to Read (Mar 11, 2014)
Raising a Hero (with Sean Hanrahan) (2016)
Beatrice Doesn't Want to
Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles
The Chicken Sisters
Laura Numeroff's Ten Step Guide to Living with Your Monster
Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers
Chimps Don't Wear Glasses
Two For Stew
Why a Disguise?
When Sheep Sleep
Emily's Bunch (with Alice Richter)
Amy for Short
Does Grandma Have an Elmo Elephant Jungle Kit
You Can't Put Braces on Spaces (with Alice Richter)
Phoebe Dexter Has Harriet Peterson's Sniffles
If You Give an Author a Pencil
Sherman Crunchley (with Nate Evans)