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Children's Picture Books For Adults: Picture Books For Kids

As a general rule, I agree with George Bernard Shaw who said, “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.” Unless, in fact, a child prefers a book you don't like, then let them read whatever makes them happy.

Children's books not only teach valuable lessons, they have beautiful illustrations and wonderful stories. As adults, we may not be reading as much as we want to be, or we may be avid readers of our preferred genre. You might even be a child's book enthusiast, like me (welcome to the club)! Whatever season you're at in life and wherever you're at with reading, these are the children's books we recommend every adult should read.

The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth book
#1
The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth
Written and illustrated by Chris Burkard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Lemony Snickers

This is an all-time favorite children's book for me. The artwork is stunning and the entire book is a fantastic celebration of our beautiful Earth. This is the first children's book by award-winning photographer Chris Burkard, and if you've seen his photography (@chrisburkard), it's no surprise that the message of this book is to take time to explore and enjoy beautiful moments. Children might not appreciate that important reminder as much as adults, but they'll love the pretty illustrations and the peaceful, calm of this book. The words are simple and direct, but that's part of what makes it powerful.

When a young boy in search of joy asks the Earth where he can find happiness, the Earth responds and agrees to show him the way. The boy rushes excitedly through the landscapes that make the Earth most proud--the ocean, the cliffs, the forest, the desert, the mountains, and the top of the world. But the boy soon realizes happiness is much harder to find than he expected.

Wherever You Go book
#2
Wherever You Go
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This book has amazing rhymes, but even more so a great message. It talks about adventures being everywhere and there are ways to reach our dreams if we will only get started and move forward. There are lots of different roads that lead to lots of different places we just need to choose the best one that will lead us where we want to go.

Roads give you chances to seek and explore. Want an adventure? Just open your door. Join an adventurous rabbit and his animal friends as they journey over steep mountain peaks, through bustling cityscapes, and down long, winding roads to discover the magical worlds that await them just outside their doors. Award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller's lilting rhyme and bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler's enchanting, lush landscapes celebrate the possibilities that lie beyond the next bend in the road--the same road that will always lead you home again.

You Are Special book
#3
You Are Special
Written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from The Goodfather

This tender story shares powerful messages about faith and trusting in God and what He thinks of us more than what others may. It's a reminder that we should not be so quick to judge one another or to withhold love and praise for one another, no matter our unique talents or abilities. The messages of the book can be appreciated by kids and adults alike.

Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones―those with smooth wood and fine paint―always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello. In this heartwarming children's tale from best-selling author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is―no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It's a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are. This tale originally appeared within one of the chapters in the award-winning children's bestseller Tell Me the Secrets.

Tomorrow I'll Be Brave book
#4
Tomorrow I'll Be Brave
Written and illustrated by Jessica Hische
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Tomorrow I'll be all the things I tried to be today- Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave. And if I wasn't one of them, I know that it's OK. Adventure through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities--all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

What Do You Do with an Idea? book
#5
What Do You Do with an Idea?
Written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I love this entire series of books, but this one is definitely my favorite. It's beautifully illustrated, inspirational, motivational and clever. That being said, it's definitely geared towards a little older audience.

A young boy comes up with an idea and he keeps it safe until one day he realizes the amazing power it can have.

  1. The Wonderful Things You Will Be - B is for Bookworm - I absolutely love this book. The illustrations are so beautiful and unique, and the message is even better. Though geared towards children, this book is applicable to any adult who still wants to improve in their future. I love that it shares the message of unconditional love, that the parent will love whoever their child grows up to be. The book also talks about having courage, kindness, boldness, and loving others. Such a sweet book, one of my favorites!!!

  2. She Persisted - Readerly Mom - I love reading this book to my daughters for its history and the overarching message--that they can achieve great things by being persistent in following their dreams. I also love that we have found so many different ways to read it. Sometimes, we start at the beginning and read it straight through. Usually, though, we just pick one or two individual stories, or we read just the names and quotes on each page. My pre-schooler who is learning to read likes to sound out the names (in all capital letters) on each page. I like that each page gives us a concise introduction to a historical figure, so it's not too lengthy to read in one sitting, but it is a great starting point for learning more.

  3. Beautiful Oops! - The Book Snob Mom - Near the very top of my list of things I want my children to learn is to not be afraid of mistakes or failure—they're simply part of the process. The interactive way multi-media mistakes are transformed in this book into quirky artwork is endearing and keeps the mood light and my little reader busy while I read the slightly more serious message present in the text. My toddler wants this "again" and "again", and thus far it's been sturdy enough to withstand toddler exploration, which is a plus!

  4. Augustus and His Smile - B is for Bookworm - I love this sweet, meaningful book about a tiger who finds that there is joy all around him and that he can find happiness just by choosing to be aware! Such a good reminder for the reader. He goes on a fun adventure to learn this lesson, and I love the illustrations of this book, too!

My Heart book
#10
My Heart
Written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This beautiful book talks about all the different feelings our heart has, and how we have the power to decide if our heart is open or closed. The illustrations are completely gorgeous--I love the simplicity and style. This book is great to use talk with kids about emotions, our power over them, and how better understanding emotions can help us empathize with others.

From the author-illustrator of The Book of Mistakes comes a gorgeous picture book about caring for your own heart and living with kindness and empathy. My heart is a window. My heart is a slide. My heart can be closed…or opened up wide. Some days your heart is a puddle or a fence to keep the world out. But some days it is wide open to the love that surrounds you. With lyrical text and breathtaking art, My Heart, My Heart empowers all readers to listen to the guide within in this ode to love and self-acceptance.

I Am Human book
#11
I Am Human
Written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book is full of meaningful truths and lessons suitable for every age. I love that it encourages kindness, love, empathy, equality, and hope. This book is all about being the best you! Plus, the illustrations are beautiful and whimsical.

A child recognizes his own humanity, his capacity for doing harm and being harmed, his ability to feel joy and sadness, and his belief in hope and promise to keep learning.

Guess How Much I Love You book
#12
Guess How Much I Love You
Written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Sometimes, when you love someone very, very much, you want to find a way of describing how much you treasure them. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not an easy thing to measure! For two decades, Sam McBratney’s timelessly endearing story, beautifully rendered in Anita Jeram’s exquisite watercolors, has captured the deep and tender bond between parent and child. Guess How Much I Love You is one of the world’s best-loved picture books.

I Can Be Anything book
#13
I Can Be Anything
Written by Jerry Spinelli and illustrated by Jimmy Liao
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

When I grow up, what shall I be? This exuberant book offers up everything from a paper plane folder to a puppy dog holder, from a silly joke teller to a snowball smoother. Newbery-Award winning author Jerry Spinelli's simple and charming rhymes are accompanied by internationally-renowned illustrator Jimmy Liao's vibrant and fantastical illustrations. This book is an imaginative joyride about hopes and dreams, and a reminder of all the possibilities life has to offer. So, what do you want to be? Remember—you can be anything!

The Giving Tree book
#14
The Giving Tree
Written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

'Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy.' So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk...and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return. Ages 10+

  1. Where the Sidewalk Ends - If you are a dreamer, come in, If you are a dreamer, A wisher, a liar, A hope-er, a pray-er, A magic bean buyer … Come in … for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist. Shel Silverstein’s masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound.

  2. Dear Girl, - A #1 New York Times bestseller which Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb calls, “a beautiful, beautiful book” New York Times bestselling author of I Wish You More, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and her daughter Paris Rosenthal collaborate to bring you the heartwarming and inspiring Dear Girl, Dear Girl, is a remarkable love letter written for the special girl in your life; a gentle reminder that she’s powerful, strong, and holds a valuable place in the world. Through Amy and Paris’s charming text and Holly Hatam’s stunning illustrations, any girl reading this book will feel that she's great just the way she is—whether she enjoys jumping in a muddy puddle, has a face full of freckles, or dances on table tops. Dear Girl, encourages girls to always be themselves and to love who they are—inside and out. Dear Girl, This book is for you. Wonderful, smart, beautiful you. If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved. —Amy and Paris A perfect gift for all occasions.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!