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Imagination And Play: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about imagination and play?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to imagination and play. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about imagination and play.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about imagination and play, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Dog Loves Drawing to popular sellers like Where the Wild Things Are to some of our favorite hidden gems like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

We hope this list of kids books about imagination and play can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Top 10 Books About Imagination And Play

Where the Wild Things Are book
#1
Where the Wild Things Are
Written & illustrated by Maurice Sendak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Where the Wild Things Are is fifty years old! Maurice Sendak’s Caldecott Medal-winning picture book has become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children’s books of all time. A must for every child’s bookshelf.

Introduce a new generation to Max’s imaginative journey with this special anniversary edition. Let the wild rumpus continue as this classic comes to life like never before with new reproductions of Maurice Sendak’s artwork.

Astonishing state-of-the-art technology faithfully captures the color and detail of the original illustrations. Sendak himself enthusiastically endorsed this impressive new interpretation of his art before his death in 2012. This iconic story has inspired a movie, an opera, and the imagination of generations.

Harold and the Purple Crayon book
#2
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Written & illustrated by Crockett Johnson
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book is a wonderful example of imagination and the joy it brings! Harold can do anything he imagines. I love the simplicity of this book—all it takes is a purple crayon.

picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Essential Picture Book Classics—timeless stories for every child to treasure. “One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.” Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of wonder and excitement. Full of funny twists and surprises, this joyful story shows just how far your imagination can take you. Harold and the Purple Crayon has delighted readers of all ages for over fifty years.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book
#3
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl & illustrated by Quentin Blake
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the author of The BFG and Matilda!

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles book
#4
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

If I could, I’d rate this book higher! This has been my favorite chapter book for the past year, and is the perfect book to ignite and strengthen a reader’s imagination, all while going on an incredible, courageous journey.

chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Whangdoodle was once the wisest, the kindest, and the most extraordinary creature in the world. Then he disappeared and created a wonderful land for himself and all the other remarkable animals — the ten-legged Sidewinders, the little furry Flukes, the friendly Whiffle Bird, and the treacherous, “oily” Prock. It was an almost perfect place where the last of the really great Whangdoodles could rule his kingdom with “peace, love and a sense of fun”— apart from and forgotten by people. But not completely forgotten. Professor Savant believed in the Whangdoodle. And when he told the three Potter children of his search for the spectacular creature, Lindy, Tom, and Ben were eager to reach Whangdoodleland. With the Professor’s help, they discovered the secret way. But waiting for them was the scheming Prock, who would use almost any means to keep them away from his beloved king. Only by skill and determination were the four travelers able to discover the last of the really great Whangdoodles and grant him his heart’s desire. Julie Andrews Edwards, star of stage and screen, has written a unique and beloved story that has become a modern classic. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is sure to continue to delight readers everywhere. This edition includes a new foreword by the author.

The Magical Life of Mr. Renny book
#5
The Magical Life of Mr. Renny
Written & illustrated by Leo Timmers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When he is unable to sell his paintings and has no money for food, Mr. Renny meets a man who is able to make his paintings come to life.

The Best Birthday Present Ever book
#6
The Best Birthday Present Ever
Written & illustrated by Ben Mantle
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I still remember the anxiety I felt as a child of having the birthday gift I brought to a party unwrapped and wondering what their reaction would be, so as Squirrel watches Bear unwrap fancier and fancier presents and questions the carefully chosen stick he’d brought, I felt with him, but Bear’s reaction is utterly perfect and priceless and teaches a great lesson about imagination, graciousness and the power of friendship. The illustrations are adorable too!

picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Squirrel is super excited: he’s been invited to Big Bear’s birthday party! Now he just has to find the perfect present for his friend—but what can you give a bear who already has EVERYTHING? Squirrel searches and searches and chooses . . . a stick! As Bear unwraps his stack of gifts Squirrel begins to worry: is it enough? But with a little imagination, and a good friend, even the simplest stick can become magical. This funny, heartwarming story of friendship is a great gift—and not just for bears!

When Charlie McButton Lost Power book
#7
When Charlie McButton Lost Power
Written by Suzanne Collins & illustrated by Mike Lester
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

A wonderful book about unplugging and using your imagination and spending time with those you love! :) I didn’t love the illustrations at first, but they’ve really grown on my and I think they, and the rest of this book, are so fun! I especially think all of the wording and rhyme is fantastic.

picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Charlie McButton likes computer games so much, he never plays with anything else. When a thunderstorm knocks out the electricity, his tech empire comes tumbling down, and his whole world loses power. Charlie needs batteries?FAST! But the only triple- A?s he can find are in his little sister?s talking doll. Will he resort to desperate measures and cause his sister to have a meltdown of her own? Or will he snap out of his computer craze long enough to realize his sister might be fun, even if she doesn?t come with batteries? Collins and Lester team up for a hilarious and timely tale that will crack up young computer addicts and those who love them!

Oh, the THINKS You Can Think! book
#8
Oh, the THINKS You Can Think!
Written & illustrated by Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Young readers will delight in Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! which celebrates the imagination and encourages young readers to think . . . about thinking! “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the Thinks you can think up if only you try.”

Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

Day Dreamers book
#9
Day Dreamers
Written & illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Emily Winfield Martin shows little ones that letting their imaginations run free will lead them into fantastical day dreams. Whether cloud-gazing or wandering through a museum, reading a book or playing in a tide pool, the children in this board book encounter magical creatures such as dragons, unicorns, griffins, and jackalopes.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend book
#10
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
Written & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle. New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

Table of Contents
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Books About Imagination And Play and Problem Solving

Solutions for Cold Feet
Written & illustrated by Carey Sookocheff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What do you do when you’re missing a shoe? When you’re caught in the rain? Or when your ice cream melts? Solutions for Cold Feet is a sweet and gently humorous look at practical and creative answers for all the little daily problems in one young girl’s life, including her exuberant and pesky dog. Will her dog, who starts out as a problem, end up as solution?

The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles
Written & illustrated by Dave Wasson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Buster Bickles’s big ideas are always getting him into trouble. But when Buster gets to test the newly invented What-if Machine, anything Buster imagines becomes reality. Packed with rivers of chocolate, robot dinosaurs, and eggs-ray vision, the world becomes Buster’s creation in this fantastically creative picture book by debut author-illustrator Dave Wasson.

The Whale in My Swimming Pool
Written & illustrated by Joyce Wan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

One sunny day, a little boy heads outside for a swim, but his pool is already taken . . . There’s a big whale in the water and it’s not budging! The boy tries everything to get the whale to leave. Nothing seems to work. Not fetch. Not tag. Not even offering his allowance. What’s a boy to do? Luckily, he comes up with the perfect solution: he decides to chill out on a spray of water over the whale’s spout. This colorful whale of a tale from the talented Joyce Wan is sure to inspire giggles from little guppies!

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Book of Mistakes - Zoom meets Beautiful Oops! in this memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration One eye was bigger than the other. That was a mistake. The weird frog-cat-cow thing? It made an excellent bush. And the inky smudges… they look as if they were always meant to be leaves floating gently across the sky. As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too. Fans of Peter Reynolds’s Ish and Patrick McDonnell’s A Perfectly Messed-Up Story will love the funny, poignant, completely unique storytelling of The Book of Mistakes. And, like Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, it makes the perfect graduation gift, encouraging readers to have a positive outlook as they learn to face life’s obstacles.

  2. Journey - Follow a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy in a wondrously illustrated, wordless picture book about self-determination — and unexpected friendship. A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

  3. Max and Marla - Two fearless Olympians sled to victory in this delightful new picture book Max and Marla are best friends. And aspiring Olympians! With their eyes on the prize, they know exactly what it’ll take to reach sledding success: preparation, practice and perseverance. So when rusty blades, strong winds and difficult slopes get in their way, Max and Marla realize true joy lies not in winning but in friendship. Obstacles turn into victories! With delightful illustrations and charming text, Alexandra Boiger brings to life the story of two unstoppable pals—true Olympians who never give up!

  4. Lulu's Party - Follow-up to Kit Chase’s popular and utterly charming debut, Oliver’s Tree, starring Lulu, Charlie, and Oliver The weather is stormy and Lulu is disappointed that she can’t play outside, so she makes a special Rainy Day Treat and plans the perfect party for her friends Oliver and Charlie. But when it’s time to taste the creamy hot chocolate, they quickly realize something went very wrong. Lulu is devastated that her party is ruined, but with some quick-thinking, Charlie and Oliver figure out a delicious solution to save the day! Kit Chase offers a sweet ode to friendship in this tale of three best friends who are always ready to use their imaginations and help each other out.

Books About Imagination And Play and First Concepts

Waiting
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit, and a pig—all toys arranged on a child’s windowsill—wait for marvelous things to happen in this irresistible picture book by the New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes.

Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?

Waiting is a big part of childhood—waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen—but in this book, a child sets the stage and pulls the strings. Timeless, beautiful, and deeply heartfelt, this picture book about imaginative play, the seasons, friendship, and surprises marks a new pinnacle in Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes’s extraordinary career.

A Parade of Elephants
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes follows five joyful elephants as they march from dawn to dusk. Where are they going? Read and find out! This engaging picture book is just right for the youngest reader and is a perfect choice for story time and bedtime sharing. Up and down, over and under, through and around . . . five big and brightly colored elephants are on a mission in this picture book for young children by Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes. Where are they going? What will they do when they get there? It’s a surprise! With a text shimmering with repetition and rhythm, bright pastel illustrations, large and readable type, and an adorable parade of elephants, Kevin Henkes introduces basic concepts such as numbers, shapes, adjectives, adverbs, and daytime and nighttime. A Parade of Elephants is an excellent choice for story time as well as bedtime sharing.

Who Was That?
Written & illustrated by Olivier Tallec
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This fresh, visually sophisticated follow-up to Who Done It? and Who What Where? tackles the topic of memory, as each page asks the reader to remember a detail about the characters featured on the page before. With die-cuts, clever folds, and imaginative illustrations, this book requires the sharpest readers’ keen attention! The call to action on every page makes this a wonderful lap read or read-aloud, and kids of all ages will love the memory games.

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Spy with My Little Eye - Mouse and Little Bear take readers on a journey with each page. Start with a color, point out a shape, and then use your imagination. Is that blue square an open window? Brrr! It’s chilly outside. And is that a red triangle? No, it is a scary volcano. Perfect for bedtime or playtime, this fun and unique primer puts a new spin on a classic game, teaching colors, shapes, and creative play.

  2. Are Your Stars Like My Stars? - “We look at the world every day. You and me. Do we see the same things? Do you see what I see?” In beautiful, evocative rhyme, this lovely picture book helps children consider the colors of their everyday lives . . . and imagine how others around the world experience the very same things. No matter where they live, all children gaze at the blue sky, bask in the warmth of the golden sun, dig in the rich dirt, and watch clouds grow soft and rosy at end of day. Through the eyes of one inquisitive and thoughtful young narrator, young readers explore the idea of perspective, and come to realize that all of us, everywhere, share the colors of the world. The gentle, poetic text and gorgeous collaged illustrations make this just right to say goodnight.

  3. The Same But Different Too - I am me, you are you.
    We’re the same, but different too.
    There’s something about each of us that makes us special. But while everyone is unique, we all have many things in common as well. Explore the ways that we are all the same but different, too, in this joyful and simple celebration of individuality and camaraderie. Filled with children and their animal friends, this rhyming text illuminates the wonderfully different and similar things that make us who we are.

  4. Never Touch a Spider! - You must never touch a spider . . . unless it’s in this book! This insect-themed touch-and-feel book is perfect for young children! They will love reading the funny rhyme, filled with insects doing silly things. Innovative silicone touches feature throughout the book, with a different texture for children to explore on every spread. This tactile book offers plenty for young children to enjoy, helping to promote an early love of reading!

Books About Imagination And Play and Science And Nature

Chirri and Chirra, In the Tall Grass
Written & illustrated by Yuki Kaneko and Kaya Doi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-8

In their second adventure to reach the US market, Chirri & Chirra become very small, and so are able to explore the magical world hidden away in a mound of tall grass. Filled with friendly, industrious bees and equally inventive bugs, this is a book that brings the lovely particularity of life in Japan––marked by food and nature––to young readers here.

Ocean Meets Sky
Written by Terry Fan & illustrated by Eric Fan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s a good day for sailing. Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

Catch the Sky: Playful Poems on the Air We Share
Written by Robert Heidbreder & illustrated by Emily Dove
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

In the vein of Jack Prelutsky and Dennis Lee comes a celebration of the sky with thirty zippy poems that will lift your spirits and let your imagination soar.

Award-winning children’s poet Robert Heidbreder captures the magic and beauty of all the things kids around the world observe when looking up, from birds and balloons to snow and shooting stars. These pocket-sized poems are perfect for sharing the natural world, and the bright, joyful images by Emily Dove depict the delight of children from all cultures, cheering and connecting with the sky we all share.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Sun Flower Lion -

  2. The Invisible Garden - A young girl and her family travel from the city to the country to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday. Someone suggests that Arianne, as the only child at the party, might enjoy exploring the garden more than listening to the adults chat. Arianne is unsure what to do in the quiet garden, and she soon lies down out of boredom. But then she spots a pebble…and a grasshopper…and flies away on a dandelion seed pod into the cosmos as she discovers the freedom of her imagination.

Books About Imagination And Play and Dogs

The Chicken Squad
Written by Doreen Cronin & illustrated by Kevin Cornell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

They might be chicks, but they sure aren’t chicken, and they’re on a mission. And on this, their first (mis)adventure “in this delightful spinoff of the J.J. Tully series” (Kirkus Reviews), the Chicken Squad launches a galactic backyard expedition. Meet the Chicken Squad: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie. These chicks are not your typical barnyard puffs of fluff, and they are not about to spend their days pecking chicken feed and chasing bugs. No sir, they’re too busy solving mysteries and fighting crime. So when Squirrel comes barreling into the chicken coop, the chicks know they’re about to get a case. But with his poor knowledge of shapes (“Big” is not a shape, Squirrel!) and utter fear of whatever it is that’s out there, the panicky Squirrel is NO HELP. Good thing these chicks are professionals. But even professionals get worried. Especially once they see that round, shiny, green, BIG thing in the yard. What if it’s a UFO full of aliens who want chickens as pets, or worse, dinner? It’s up to the Chicken Squad to crack a case that just might be out of this world.

Hurry Up!: A Book About Slowing Down
Written by Kate Dopirak & illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

A busy boy and his dog learn to slow down and enjoy life together in this lyrical, rhyming picture book perfect for hurried families everywhere.

For one busy boy, life is all hurry up, hurry down, hurry round and round and round! That is until he takes a big breath…and a big break…and slows down to see all the wonderful things in the world around him.

From celebrated picture book creators Kate Dopirak and Christopher Silas Neal, this playful yet powerful picture book reminds us to be present, to be mindful, and to appreciate each moment.

Dog Loves Drawing
Written & illustrated by Louise Yates
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dog loves books, but one day he receives a strange one in the mail—it’s blank! Soon, Dog realizes that this book is not for reading, but for drawing. Before long, Dog is doodling and drawing himself into a new world, full of friends and surprises.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Spencer's New Pet - When Spencer gets a new pet, he’s excited to do all the things that pets do—taking walks in the park, going to the vet, and attending parties together. There’s just one hitch: Spencer’s new pet is a balloon. And that means No. Sharp. Objects. No drooling dogs at the park. No prickly porcupines at the vet. And absolutely no pinning tails on any donkeys! Spencer’s New Pet is a story of pure fun about a boy, his dog, and a friendship that endures life’s sharpest…and most unexpected twists.

  2. Skippyjon Jones in the Doghouse - For another loco adventure. In his room for a time-out, Skippyjon Jones lets his imagination take him to a shack where his Chihuahua friends are yipping and yapping and hiding out from the bad Bobble-ito, who has taken over their doghouse. How El Skippito chills the Chihuahuas and banishes the Bobble-ito will make more amigos for this endearing and irresistible rascal, who made his first appearance in the favorite Skippyjon Jones.

  3. The Most Magnificent Thing - A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

Want to see books about dogs?

Books About Imagination And Play and Siblings

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree
Written & illustrated by Gemma Merino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Tina isn’t like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren’t convinced—and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her…and soon discover a world of surprises!

Brave As Can Be: A Book of Courage
Written by Jo Witek & illustrated by Christine Roussey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

From the author and illustrator of the bestselling In My Heart!

The life of a toddler can be full of frightening things: the dark, the neighbor’s dog, and thunderstorms, just to name a few. As children get older, they begin to feel braver around these everyday events, but how do they build this newfound confidence? In this lyrical, insightful picture book, an older sister explains to her younger sister all the things she used to be afraid of, along with some tricks to help, whether it’s a special blanket for bedtime or singing during a storm. Now, big sister assures little sister, the fears that once felt as big as a mountain feel as minuscule as a speck of dust.

This playful portrait of fear and bravery empowers young readers to confront once-scary situations and, with charming illustrations and die-cuts throughout, is also beautifully packaged.

The Growing Hearts series celebrates the milestones of a toddler’s emotional development, from conquering fears and expressing feelings to welcoming a new sibling.

How to Build a Snow Bear
Written by Eric Pinder & illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Thomas wants to build the biggest and best snowman ever. Since he can’t do it alone, he’ll need a helping hand—or a paw. But little bears love to hibernate. How do you wake up a snoozing bear? By tickling it? Singing to it? Maybe making its favorite snack?

How to Build a Snow Bear is a story about two siblings sharing a wondrous wintry day.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Day at the Beach - A day at the beach becomes a lesson in sibling bonding for Gideon in this magical picture book. Every summer, Gideon and his younger sister Audrey build a sand castle—together. But this summer, everything changes. Gideon is going to build the most spectacular sandcastle anyone on the beach has ever seen. And he’s going to do it on his own—without any help from his sister. But much to his surprise, Gideon discovers that building together is more fun and that everyone has their own unique talent when it comes to creativity and imagination, even Audrey.

  2. Dory Fantasmagory - Move over, Junie B. Jones and Ivy & Bean! Here comes a lovably energetic little sister with a BIG personality—and an imagination to match! As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she’s too much of a baby for them, so she’s left to her own devices—including her wild imagination and untiring energy. Her siblings may roll their eyes at her childish games, but Dory has lots of things to do: outsmarting the monsters all over the house, escaping from prison (aka time-out), and exacting revenge on her sister’s favorite doll. And when they really need her, daring Dory will prove her bravery, and finally get exactly what she has been looking for. With plenty of pictures bursting with charm and character, this hilarious book about an irresistible rascal is the new must-read for the chapter book set.

  3. Dollop and Mrs. Fabulous - Make way for bunny Dollop and her sister, Lily (otherwise known as Mrs. Fabulous), in this rib-tickling sibling story by the popular creator of Chick ‘N’ Pug.

  4. Maggie and Wendel: Imagine Everything! - In this charming picture book, brother and sister elephants come together for an afternoon of epic adventures as they let their big imaginations take them to the wildest of places! When it comes to playtime, Maggie and Wendel’s imaginations are limitless. Whether the elephant siblings are pretending to rescue a pal from a burning building, buying a pet dragon at the pet store, or going on a wild jungle safari, no adventure is too far-fetched. Perfect for young siblings of any age, this beautifully illustrated story with minimal text will enchant young readers and show every brother and sister that, with a little imagination, it is possible to get along.

Want to see books about siblings?

Books About Imagination And Play and Bears

Lola Dutch
Written & illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright and Kenneth Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Meet Lola Dutch, a delightfully creative girl who is bursting with grand ideas. From the best ways to serve breakfast — an elegant feast! — to the ideal sleeping spot — a majestic blanket fort, of course! — Lola is inspired all day long. Her dear companion Bear sometimes says she is just too much, but Lola is rich with imagination and originality, which even Bear will agree is AMAZING.The unstoppable Lola Dutch is about to show you how to make every day grand and full of fun. You’ll love her so much! Inspired by their own four gorgeously feisty children, Sarah Jane and Kenneth Wright are thrilled to introduce the unstoppable Lola Dutch and her fresh, fun, commercial, character-driven series.

Loved to Bits
Written by Teresa Heapy & illustrated by Katie Cleminson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Ted and his boy do everything together.They fight beasts and have feasts.They tickle monsters then flee on rafts, They search, explore, escape. . . . and laugh.But sometimes things get rough, and Teddy loses an ear.He’s still got his best one though, never fear! And an eye? PING!It’s nothing-he didn’t feel a thing!A leg, then the other. An arm, and then the next.What do you do with a broken Ted?You lay down with him at night and snuggle in bed.

The Berenstain Bears and the Nutcracker
Written & illustrated by Mike Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

It’s Christmas morning, and Santa has left the Berenstain Bears a special gift—a nutcracker! At first the cubs are more interested in their new video game, electronic toy, and Bearbie movie. But when they put the presents away and put their imaginations to use, the fun really starts. Join the Bears as they act out their own version of The Nutcracker!

Honorable Mentions
  1. This Is MY Room! - Jojo’s ready for her first night all alone in her very own room, but a menagerie of animals have other ideas in this charming and fun picture book. Jojo can’t wait to spend the night in her very own bed in her very own room. She doesn’t care what her big sister Margaret says, she’s NOT afraid and she WON’T be back to the bedroom they used to share. There’s just one problem though—there are intruders in her new room! A lion, a bear, and a very persistent tiger seem to think this is THEIR room, not Jojo’s. Is Margaret right? Is Jojo not quite ready to spend the night on her own? Or can Jojo find a way to show that trespassing tiger just who’s boss in HER room?

  2. Bear's Book - A story about stories, writing, reading, and friendship When Bear’s favorite book of stories falls apart, he is determined to write one of his own. He ventures into the forest for inspiration, but writing is harder than he thinks, and he soon discovers that he needs help from his friends. See how Bear transforms their day into a wonderful adventure in this story about creativity and friendship.

  3. When I Draw a Panda - From the acclaimed author and illustrator of The Big Umbrella comes a delightful celebration of creativity and gumption about a girl and her panda that’s Calvin and Hobbes meets If You Give a Mouse a Cookie! Sometimes when they say to draw a perfect circle, mine turn out a little wonky.
    I can draw a perfect fluffy cloud, a perfect scoop of ice cream, and a perfect flat tire.
    So when I draw a panda, I keep drawing more and more not-perfect circles until I see a panda.
    Then I step back and think, Does it need something else? He probably needs a hat, and then he is my panda.
    When a girl draws a panda, it comes to life and helps her embrace her own creativity and unique way of seeing the world.

  4. The Bear and the Piano - One day, a bear cub finds something strange and wonderful in the forest. When he touches the keys, they make a horrible noise. Yet he is drawn back again and again. Eventually, he learns to play beautiful sounds, delighting his woodland friends. Then the bear is invited to share his sounds with new friends in the city. He longs to explore the world beyond his home, and to play bigger and better than before. But he knows that if he leaves, the other bears will be very sad . . . This gorgeously illustrated tale of following one’s dreams reminds us of the value of friendship, wherever we go.

Want to see books about bears?

Books About Imagination And Play and Holidays

Catch That Cookie!
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Solve the riddles to find the runaway gingerbread men in this funny and magical cookie hunt!

Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can’t wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it’s time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they’re gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic. Catch That Cookie! is an imaginative mystery, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Small. It’s sure to inspire a new classroom tradition . . . and maybe even a few new believers!

Snowmen at Halloween
Written by Caralyn Buehner & illustrated by Mark Buehner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The snowmen are getting their Halloween costumes ready for the latest picture book in this New York Times bestselling series. Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do when we’re not watching? After an early snowfall, a few kids build some snowmen before going trick-or-treating. And when the kids go off to bed, the snowmen have their own Halloween festival! There’s candy and apple-bobbing and costume contests and all sorts of autumn activities. When the kids wake up the next morning, the snowmen are gone… but they’ve left a very special message behind.

Seeking a Santa
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi & illustrated by Allie Smith
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

From bestselling author Angela DiTerlizzi comes a lighthearted and sweet Christmas board book perfect for little elves and Santa fans everywhere! I’m seeking a Santa And everyone knows… Your eyes must be bright With red cheeks and red nose Should have a fur hat Wear a warm, woolen suit Bring a big bag For all of the loot The search for Santa is on at the North Pole as elves, reindeer, and more share their Christmas spirit before finding the perfect St. Nick.

Honorable Mentions
  1. And Then Comes Summer - A joyful, sun-drenched tribute to the anticipation and adventures of the warmest season of the year. When the days stretch out like a slow yawn, and the cheerful faces of Johnny-jump-ups jump up . . . then it’s time to get ready for summer! From flip-flops and hide-and-seek to fireworks and ice-cream trucks, from lemonade stands and late bedtimes to swimming in the lake and toasting marshmallows, there’s something for everyone in this bright and buoyant celebration of the sunny season. Tom Brenner’s lovely, lyrical ode to summers spent outdoors will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever counted down the days until school gets out, and Jaime Kim’s jubilant, nostalgia-soaked illustrations leave little doubt that summer is indeed a time unlike any other.

  2. The Great Spruce - Together with his grandpa, a young boy finds a way to save his favorite tree in this heartwarming Christmas tale. Alec loves to climb trees-the little apple trees, the wide willow trees, even the tall locust trees. But his favorite is the great spruce, with its sturdy trunk and branches that stretch up to the sky. Alec’s grandpa planted it as a sapling years and years before Alec was born, and every Christmas, Alec and his grandpa decorate the tree together, weaving tinsel and lights through its branches, making it shine bright. But one day, a few curious men from the nearby city take notice of Alec’s glistening great spruce, and ask to take it away for their Christmas celebration. Though it’s a huge honor, Alec’s heartbroken at the idea of losing his friend. With great courage and creativity, Alec comes up with a plan to save his favorite tree in this joyful holiday tale. Praise for The Great Spruce-

  3. National Regular Average Ordinary Day - Even the regular, average, ordinary days can be celebrated with this charming picture book! Peter does not like being bored, so he comes up with a way to have some festive fun—he’ll celebrate a different holiday each day! He even rates them on a scale of 1 to 10. But when he wakes up one morning to discover there isn’t any holiday, he realizes he’ll have to take matters into his own hands and make up his own! That’s easier said than done, though, and nothing seems to go right—until Peter realizes that even a regular, average, ordinary day can be something worth celebrating.

  4. The Backwards Birthday Party - Have a happy birthday—the backwards way! Full of fun and based on the hit song from Tom Chapin and John Forster, this is a celebratory birthday bash like no other. Put your clothes on inside out, heat up the ice cream, and hang on to your party hats—because everything’s out of whack at the backwards birthday party! From beloved, three-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Tom Chapin, four-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter John Forster, and with stunning illustrations from Chuck Groenink comes the zaniest birthday party you’ll ever attend.

Want to see books about holidays?

Books About Imagination And Play and Teamwork

I Can Play
Written & illustrated by Betsy Snyder
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Readers make athletes splash, sprint, or score just by wiggling their fingers! Then, with two sets of hands, readers help the athletes unite as a team in the gatefold finale. Active and adorable characters model independence and teamwork, making this innovative board book perfect for interactive reading and playtime fun!

Oliver's Tree
Written & illustrated by Kit Chase
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A board book about three adorable best friends!

Oliver, Charlie, and Lulu love to play outside together. Their favorite game is hide-and-seek, but it’s not fun for Oliver when his friends hide in the trees—he can’t reach them! So the friends set off to find a tree that Oliver can play in.

But there’s a reason we don’t see elephants in trees, and just when Oliver is ready to give up the search, Charlie and Lulu surprise him with the perfect tree for them all to play in together!

Sandcastle That Lola Built
Written by Megan Maynor & illustrated by Kate Berube
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Lola is building her dream sandcastle—one with a tall, tall tower and sea glass that sends signals to mermaids. But the beach is crowded, and soon enough, a boy steps on her castle. Not to worry! Lola recruits him to build a wall. When a toddler with a bulldozer starts digging too close the walls, Lola decides he can be in charge of digging the moat. As the sandcastle grows, so does Lola’s friendly group of helpers. There’s only one thing that Lola doesn’t want near the sandcastle: a wave! Will the new friends be able to salvage the mermaids’ castle when their hard work is washed away?

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Almost Impossible Thing - Nothing is so impossible that it shouldn’t be tried. Even if you’re a bunny hoping to fly. A tribute to teamwork, big dreams, perseverance, and those who don’t listen when others say their goals are unreachable. The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.—Chinese Proverb Most of us want to fly—even if we know we’re rooted to the ground. Especially if we know we’re rooted to the ground! So when a rabbit spots a bird soaring in beautiful, colorful loop-de-loops, a dream is born. Though her friends tell her “You can’t do that!” our rabbit is undeterred. Through comical ski jumps, trampoline bounces, swings on the trapeze, and experiments with kites . . . somehow, some way, there must be a way to fly. And there is! Teamwork. Debut author/illustrator Basak Agaoglu delivers a story of faith, persistence, and humor—along with some of the most adorable, child-friendly art ever seen. For fans of Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery.

  2. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole - Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary — and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

  3. When Pencil Met Eraser - Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this funny, clever picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends. When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity—until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together. From Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, and illustrator Germán Blanco, When Pencil Met Eraser brings to life something kids use every day at school and at home. Engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever ending create a memorable message about friendship and creativity.

  4. Ta-Da! - What makes a good story? One little girl thinks it’s a princess with magical powers that can—ta-da!—overcome any obstacle. Her friend thinks it’s—dun dun duh!—a combination of dragons, pirates, and fire that cause total chaos. But as their stories intertwine, these two young storytellers soon learn that a good story needs both conflict—dun dun duh!—and resolution—ta-da! An irresistible celebration of imaginary play, storytelling, and the joys of collaboration, this gorgeous picture book features two strong voices throughout, making it the perfect read-aloud.

Want to see books about teamwork?

Books About Imagination And Play and New Experiences

Brave Enough for Two
Written & illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

In the spirit of “Goodnight Moon” and “The Night Gardener” comes a heartwarming picture book about a little girl, her stuffed-animal owl, and their loving friendship from debut author-illustrator Voss. Full color.

The Day I Lost My Superpowers
Written by Michael Escoffier & illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a young superhero-in-training gets hurt, she discovers that mothers have superpowers, too.

Dandelion's Dream
Written & illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Select type book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

What if a dandelion became a real lion? With enchanting, ethereal art, this wordless story shares a world where reality can be transfigured by imagination.

In a meadow filled with dandelion buds just about to flower, one dandelion blooms into a real lion. Roots and leaves unfurl into four tiny paws and a long tail with a fluffy yellow tuft. What a great, wide world there is to explore when you have paws instead of roots: there are fast trains to ride, regal ships to sail, and cities with lights as bright as Dandelion’s field in full bloom. But will a real lion ever be content to go back to being a rooted dandelion? Yoko Tanaka’s exquisite illustrations take us on an adventure where even the smallest seeds contain cosmic dreams.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Bella and Stella Come Home - A little girl tries to reassure her favorite doll when they move to a new, and very different, home.

  2. My Best Friend - New York Times bestselling author Julie Fogliano and Caldecott Honor winner Jillian Tamaki come together to tell a delightful story of first friendship. she is my best friend i think i never had a best friend so i’m not sure but i think she is a really good best friend because when we were drawing she drew me and i drew her. What is a best friend, if not someone who laughs with you the whole entire day, especially when you pretend to be a pickle? This pitch-perfect picture book is a sweetly earnest, visually stunning celebration of the magic of friendship.

Books About Imagination And Play and Bedtime

Sheep Go to Sleep
Written by Nancy Shaw & illustrated by Margot Apple
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

At the end of the day, tired sheep return to their shed but none can sleep until the collie arrives, giving a hug, a drink of water, and more until all have begun to snore.

Hooray for Birds!
Written & illustrated by Lucy Cousins
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

In an exuberant display of color, Lucy Cousins invites little ones to imagine themselves as brilliant birds.

Birds of all feathers flock together in a fun, rhyme-filled offering by the creator of Maisy. From the rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo” at dawn to the owl’s nighttime “tuwit, tuwoo,” the cheeps and tweets of many bright and beautiful avian friends will have children eager to join in as honorary fledglings. This day in the life of birds will hold the attention of even the smallest bird-watchers, whether at storytime or just before settling into their cozy nests to sleep.

Goodnight Bear
Written & illustrated by Jane Cabrera
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Get baby ready to go to sleep and say goodnight to all the different animals in this adorable board book! Goodnight, moon, shining bright, sleepy babies kiss night-night! It’s time for baby to go to sleep! Little ones will love saying goodnight to all the baby animals with their animal sounds in this adorable board book, including a fox (Yap Yap), an owl (Whoo-Whoo), a bat (Flap Flap), a mouse (Squeak Squeak), a kitten (Meow Meow), a bear (Grrr Grr), a hedgehog (Snuffle Snuffle), a wolf (Wooh Wooh), and finally, a baby (Shh Shh)!

Honorable Mentions
  1. I Love You, Blankie - A flowing sail, a hot air balloon, a fluffy cloud, a glowing moon… with a little imagination, a blankie can be anything! This sweet and playful board book will encourage little ones to think big as they head off into dreamland. On each page, a young child uses his cozy yellow blankie in a new way, taking him everywhere from under the sea to high among the stars. As bedtime nears, the blankie turns into a balloon, a cloud, and a shooting star, eventually placing him safely into bed where he can keep dreaming and snuggling, too. Debut author Sheryl Haft and artist Jane Massey have crafted an adorable story around a universal bedtime theme. Featuring a soft padded cover, this is the perfect book to inspire sweet dreams.

  2. Starry Safari - Bedtime becomes a jungle safari until the Big Safari Ranger brings it to a halt.

  3. Light Up the Stars! - Paint the sky with rainbows and make the stars shine with this novelty board book! Kids just pull the tabs to make colorful flowers bloom, help a ship sail the ocean, and light up an entire city. At the end, you can shut a boy’s eyes to put him to sleep at night . . . and wake him in the morning. It’s magical!

  4. Tomorrow Most Likely - Rather than focusing on going to bed—and what kid wants to think about going to bed?—this book explores all of the dreamy, wonderful, strange things the next day might bring. Whimsical, witty, and hopeful, this revolutionary rewriting of a classic goodnight book from bestselling author Dave Eggers and award-winning illustrator Lane Smith is a bedtime story for tomorrow ever after.

Want to see books about bedtime?

Books About Imagination And Play and Feelings And Emotions

Lottie & Walter
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

An original, compelling, and visually stunning treatment of a common childhood predicament: overcoming a fear of the water.

Lottie goes to swim lessons every Saturday, but she never gets in the water. That’s because she is convinced there is a shark in the pool, a shark that wants to eat her and only her. But then Walter appears. Walter likes singing and reading books and bubble baths, and his favorite food is fish sticks, just like Lottie. When Saturday rolls around again, Lottie is no more ready to jump in the pool than she was before. Or is she? Sometimes it just takes a special friend to find the courage that was inside you all along.

Sand Elephant
Written by Rinna Hermann & illustrated by Sanne Dufft
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Paul has no one to play with. The sandbox is empty. Or is it?

As he digs and pats the sand, a shape appears: an elephant. Curling up under the elephant’s warm, sandy trunk, Paul drifts off to sleep. But then something amazing happens. The sand elephant stands up, and lifts Paul onto its back!

The sand elephant takes Paul to a wonderful land where incredible sand animals and their children are laughing and playing together. But what will happen when the wind starts to blow and the rain starts to fall?

In this delightful celebration of the power of childhood imagination, Rinna Herman’s story combines with pictures full of vibrancy and charm by acclaimed illustrator Sanne Dufft. This gentle story reassures children that friends from our imagination stay with us forever, so we need never feel alone.

When You Need Wings
Written & illustrated by Lita Judge
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the tradition of Where the Wild Things Are, beloved author-illustrator Lita Judge brings us a soaring story about the power of imagination.

On a day when you feel like no one is listening, and you wish you could just disappear, shut your eyes and listen. Do you hear it? That isn’t your heart. That is the sound of your very own wings beating within.

Acclaimed author-illustrator Lita Judge takes readers on a wonder-filled exploration of a child’s imagination, thoughtfully weaving in a gentle suggestion of how to explore that bountiful inner world and let it help them shine with courage in the real one.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Hug Machine - The hug machine is available to hug anyone, any time, whether they are square or long, spikey or soft.

  2. I Am Human - 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.

  3. What's Wrong, Little Pookie? - Uh-oh, Pookie is NOT happy in this kind-of-cranky board book from the beloved and bestselling Sandra Boynton. Oh, sweet little Pookie! Your bright eyes are wet. Come over and tell me why you are upset. When Pookie feels down, Pookie’s mom can always guess what’s wrong with her little one. Or can she? With Sandra Boynton’s signature charm and piggy pizzazz, this turn-that-frown-upside-down story proves that every Little Pookie loves a reason to smile.

  4. Pip and Posy: The New Friend - Pip and Posy are having a lovely day at the beach, collecting shells and digging in the sand. But when Posy takes a nap, Pip makes a new friend named Zac. Zac is very cool: he has lots of fun toys and he’s really good at handstands. When Posy wakes up, she finds that Pip is more interested in playing with Zac than with her. A funny and dramatic story about discovering that two’s company and three’s a . . . PARTY!

Books About Imagination And Play and Colors

Not Quite Black and White Board Book
Written by Jonathan Ying & illustrated by Victoria Ying
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

Silly animals star in this lively board book that introduces colors in a unique and catchy way. Have you ever seen a zebra wearing pink polka dots? Or a penguin with bright yellow boots? Brother and sister team Jonathan and Victoria Ying present these surprisingly colorful animals and more in this clever celebration of colors.

One Yellow Ribbon
Written by & illustrated by Marthe Jocelyn
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A wordless board book that follows the journey of one yellow ribbon as it transforms into many other objects.

Pirate Nap
Written by Danna Smith & illustrated by Valeria Petrone
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Two brothers use their imaginations to turn their surroundings—from a white bandana and yellow coins to a red blanket and even their baby sister— into a colorful pirate adventure before naptime.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Numberlys - From the team who brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore comes an alphabet tale extraordinaire! Once upon a time there was no alphabet, only numbers… Life was…fine. Orderly. Dull as gray paint. Very…numberly. But our five jaunty heroes weren’t willing to accept that this was all there could be. They knew there had to be more. So they broke out hard hats and welders, hammers and glue guns, and they started knocking some numbers together. Removing a piece here. Adding a piece there. At first, it was awful. But the five kept at it, and soon it was…artful! One letter after another emerged, until there were twenty-six. Twenty-six letters—and they were beautiful. All colorful, shiny, and new. Exactly what our heroes didn’t even know they were missing. And when the letters entered the world, something truly wondrous began to happen…Pizza! Jelly beans! Color! Books! Based on the award-winning app, this is William Joyce and Moonbot’s Metropolis-inspired homage to everyone who knows there is more to life than shades of black and gray.

  2. Mix It Up! - Accept Hervé Tullet’s irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.

  3. Lionel and Molly: Colors - Introducing Lionel and Molly—two best friends exploring the world around them in this touch and feel concept board book. Lionel the lion and Molly the mouse are best friends who love exploring the world together. Join them as they discover the colors and beauty of the seasons, like the bright yellow sun in the summer and big blue rain puddles in the spring.

  4. Press Here - PRESS HERE, MIX IT UP!, LET’S PLAY! and now SAY ZOOP! Collect all four interactive books from Hervé Tullet! Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!

Want to see books about colors?

Books About Imagination And Play and Winter

Claudia & Moth
Written & illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

A small girl with a passion for nature turns to her new passion for art as the seasons turn colder.

Claudia loves butterflies. Blue ones. Yellow ones. Purple ones with dots. And since she can’t take them home, she paints them in all their beautiful colors.

But when winter comes, there are no more butterflies to paint…until she finds a little moth. Suddenly, Claudia sees winter in a whole new light.

The Wish Tree
Written by Kyo Maclear & illustrated by Chris Turnham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Charles wants to find a wish tree. His brother and sister don’t believe there is such a thing, but his trusty companion Boggan is ready to join Charles on a journey to find out. And along the way, they discover that wishes can come true in the most unexpected ways. The poetic text and heartwarming illustrations evoke the true essence of the holiday season and will inspire wishers everywhere. This gem of a book deserves center stage year round.

The Snowy Day
Written & illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Celebrate a major anniversary of a true classic!

In 1962, a little boy named Peter put on his snowsuit and stepped out of his house and into the hearts of millions of readers. The Snowy Day transformed children’s literature with its pioneering portrayal of an African-American child and the charming story and artwork that won it the Caldecott Medal. Fifty years later, Viking proudly celebrates Peter’s adventure in this very special edition. Featuring eight pages of bonus material and a festive cover, this oversized edition of Keats’s beloved book is a must-have.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Snowmen All Year - By popular demand, a board book edition of the third title in this bestselling series The Buehners’ New York Times bestselling snowmen are here to stay! Children wonder what would happen if their favorite frosty friends didn’t melt with springtime. What would it be like to take a snowman to the beach? What costume would a snowman wear if you took him trick-or-treating? In this dazzling, silly book, the weather brings a year’s worth of surprise and laughter.

  2. Red Sled - At night, a host of woodland creatures plays with a child’s red sled.

  3. It's Time to Build a Snowman! - A perfect read for the holiday season! One winter day, two penguins decide to make their very own snowman friend! It’s Time to Build a Snowman is a small, adorable book with uniquely shaped pages that create a special layered effect. After enjoying the sweet story, kids can add it to the Christmas tree as an ornament!

  4. Just So Willow - The delightful story of a finicky polar bear who learns that having friends and fun is more important than things being “just so.” Willow is a polar bear who likes things just so. She even irons her underwear and tidies her teacher! So when a storm covers her backyard in a smooth blanket of snow, she’s determined to keep it that way—in spite of all the other kids creating a lumpy, bumpy mess. Will Willow realize that being particular is making her miss out on all the fun?

Want to see books about winter?

Books About Imagination And Play and Toys, Dolls And Puppets

Max's Castle
Written by Kate Banks & illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Max finds a pile of forgotten toys under the bed, his brothers Benjamin and Karl wonder what’s so special about some old blocks. So Max shows them. With some clever twists of both blocks and imagination, he constructs not only a castle but an entire adventure, complete with pirates and knights, a dark dungeon and a dragon. This ingenious sequel to Max’s Words and Max’s Dragons shows readers just how much fun wordplay can be.

Henry & Leo
Written & illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Leo isn t just a stuffed toy, he is Henry s best friend and brother. He is as real as a tree, a cloud, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the wind. But when the two are accidentally separated, no one in Henry sfamily believes Leo is real enough to find his way home. With beautiful mixed-media paintings, the Caldecott Honor winning artist Pamela Zagarenski explores the transcendent nature of friendship and love.”

Penny and Penelope
Written by Dan Richards & illustrated by Claire Almon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Two girls on a play date learn there’s more to each other than meets the eye with a little help from their dolls in this exciting picture book adventure. Penny and Penelope are very different dolls. Penelope is a sweet princess, while Penny is a fierce secret agent. Penelope wants to ride her pony through the countryside, while Penny wants to wrestle alligators. How can they possibly get along playing in an imaginary kingdom? Luckily, Penny and Penelope are more than their packaging. After all, you can’t judge a doll by its outfit.

Honorable Mentions
  1. A Fire Engine for Ruthie - Ruthie loves to visit Nana, but they don’t always like to play with the same things. Ruthie loves fire engines and motorcycles, while Nana loves dolls and dress-up clothes. Nana’s neighbor, Brian, gets to play with fire engines and motorcycles. So why doesn’t Ruthie? Energetic illustrations capture the loving relationship between Ruthie and Nana in this insightful and sensitive story.

  2. Shhh! - When baby brother is sleeping, it’s time to be ever so quiet. There’s no singing or jumping or laughing at all. Even the toys need to be quiet! The pirates stop firing their cannons, the knights stop fighting, even the tiger stops growling. But when baby wakes up . . . it’s time to jump and laugh and sing again! And the knights begin to fight, the pirates fire up the cannons, and the tiger growls so loudly! Until it’s time to be quiet once again. In this beautifully and expressively illustrated picture book, we celebrate the love between siblings as a big brother uses his imagination to calm his urge to cause a ruckus so that his little brother can sleep.

Books About Imagination And Play and The Environment

Stick and Stone
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor? Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand. New York Times bestselling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld imbues Stick and Stone with energy, emotion, and personality to spare.

    In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children’s literature.
Heal the Earth
Written by Bart Davis and Julian Lennon & illustrated by Smiljana Coh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Take a journey to help the Earth in the second book of the New York Times bestselling trilogy by Julian Lennon! Jump aboard the White Feather Flier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want. This time, Lennon’s interactive book immerses children in a fun and unique journey where they can: Bring medicine to people in need! Dive below the ocean to bleached coral reefs! Visit the city to cultivate green spaces! Help the rain forest return and give its animals a home! Explore the planet, meet new people, and help make the world a better place! The Flier’s mission is to transport readers around the world, to engage them in helping to save the environment, and to teach one and all to love our planet. Just press a button printed on the page, and point the plane up in the air to fly, or down to land it! An inspiring, lyrical story, rooted in Lennon’s life and work, Heal the Earth is filled with beautiful illustrations that bring the faraway world closer to young children. The book includes words to a new, special poem written by Julian Lennon, specifically for Heal the Earth. A portion of the proceeds from book sales will go to support the environmental and humanitarian efforts of the White Feather Foundation, the global environmental and humanitarian organization that Lennon founded to promote education, health, conservation, and the protection of indigenous culture.

Once Upon a Memory
Written by Nina Laden & illustrated by Renata Liwska
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Does a feather remember it once was a bird? Does a book remember it once was a word? When a feather drifts through a child’s window, a magical journey begins. As the boy follows the feather, he is swept away to a world filled with adorable animals, where fantasy and reality come together in surprising and playful ways. From the cake that once was grain to the ocean that once was rain, whimsical “before” and “after” scenes offer readers a peek at the world as seen through the eyes of a curious child, ultimately asking the question, “What will you remember?” Nina Laden’s poetic and cleverly woven text is perfectly paired with bestselling artist Renata Liwska’s captivating illustrations. Together they create a story that will keep readers enchanted long after the journey has ended.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Don't Throw That Away! - You can keep that trash and reuse it in all kinds of wonderful ways! Do you see that old jar? Don’t throw that away! You can turn it into…a new vase! Follow an eco-conscious super hero as he teaches kids how to recycle and reuse common household items! The six large flaps throughout show that oridinary trash is really a treasure. From turning old clothes into fun costumes or an old box into a brand new car, kids will learn that saving the environment is super cool!

  2. Ivy Bird - “An enchanting portrayal of one girl’s delight in a creature and the many ways they can engage and inspire.” — ALA Booklist Ivy spends her day with the birds—sipping nectar and splashing in the pond in this joyfully written celebration of birds and imaginative play from an award-winning author-and-illustrator team. Ivy Bird is a celebration of the natural world and the joy found in imaginative play. Perfect for reading aloud, this book will delight children with its search-and-find elements, bright illustrations, and exuberant story. A nonfiction element, two pages bursting with colorful bird illustrations, encourages readers to seek out birds in their own neighborhoods. Printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable-based inks.

  3. Colin Collects Colors - Colin is on a quest; he’s off to collect colors from all over the world to brighten up his dull, gray city! Colin’s world is dull and gray, but he’s on a special quest! He is off to collect colors from all over the world, from the white arctic to the indigo sea to the red outback. Join Colin as he finds all the colors he needs to brighten up his world!

  4. The Digger and the Flower - From the acclaimed author/artist of Beyond the Pond and Rulers of the Playground comes a breathtaking new book with a powerful message about the environment, perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s The Curious Garden and Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed. Each day, the big trucks go to work. They scoop and hoist and push. But when Digger discovers something growing in the rubble, he sets in motion a series of events that will change him, and the city, forever. “This story contains bold graphic illustrations and a wonderful message about the environment,” proclaims Brightly.com in their article “18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.”

Books About Imagination And Play and Parents

The Best Mother
Written by C. M. Surrisi & illustrated by Diane Goode
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

After interviewing mothers at the park, the toy store, and the zoo, Maxine decides that her own mother is worth keeping.

Inner Child
Written by Henry Blackshaw
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

It may never be clear why adults pretend to be busy or stressed, but truths about love, life, and living in the moment are humorously recounted in this cautionary tale for all ages —FOREWORD REVIEW An observation of human behaviour that resonates with the stresses of the modern age. Dear Kids, Did you know that all adults have a child inside them? They try to hide them by pretending to be busy and stressed all the time, but as you know, it’s impossible to keep children hidden. Sometimes they just have to come out and PLAY! This is a delightful little book that will appeal to adults and children equally, explaining why adults behave in the strange ways that they do, and how important it is to preserve the place of playfulness and joy inside all of us.**

Mommy's Khimar
Written by Jamilah Tompskin-Bigelow & illustrated by Ebony Glenn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Selected as a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness! A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Tompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn. A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears. Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head. A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Max and the Superheroes - Max is crazy about superheroes, like all his friends, but the one he loves most is Megapower—especially when she turns into his Mommy and gives him a goodnight kiss.

  2. I Loathe You - Unconditional loathing is disguised as monsterly love in this sweetly humorous picture book from acclaimed author-illustrator David Slonim. Just how much does Big Monster loathe Little Monster? Let it count the ways… I loathe you more than tooth decay More than blizzard snow in May More than garbage in a dump More than splinters in my rump No matter what, through thick and thin, I loathe you there and back again! Author and illustrator David Slonim depicts a tender, tongue-in-cheek celebration of a very special kind of loathe…er, love.

Want to see books about parents?

Books About Imagination And Play and Parties

Tea Rex
Written & illustrated by Molly Idle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Some tea parties are for grown-ups. Some are for girls. But this tea party is for a very special guest. And it is important to follow some rules . . . like providing comfortable chairs, and good conversation, and yummy food. But sometimes that is not enough for special guests, especially when their manners are more Cretaceous than gracious . . .

Introducing Tea Rex, a guest that just about any child would love to have to tea!

Baby Loves to Party!
Written & illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

Have a blast with baby in this party-time companion to the hit board books Baby Loves to Rock! and Baby Loves to Boogie! The baboons blow up the balloons, and the lemurs hang the streamers. The snake bakes a cake, and the pheasants wrap some presents. But who is ready to party? With playful illustrations, funny puns, and rhymes about a crew of critters bringing down the house, this energetic and adorable story from the rock star creator of Baby Loves to Rock! and Baby Loves to Boogie! is sure to please party animals of all ages!

Out of Shapes
Written & illustrated by Ashley G.
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

In this charming board book little ones will love seeing how just a few shapes make up all of their favorite things—from a rocket ship, to a kitty cat, to a friend, and beyond! What can you make out of a triangle, a circle, a square, and a rectangle? Almost anything! In this delightful board book, artist Ashley G. takes the concept of shapes and makes it fun! Little ones will see how different shapes become a home, a kitty, a friend, a gift, and much, much more! This bright, artistic board book is perfect little hands.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles - A message in a bottle holds the promise of surprise and wonder, as told in this enthralling picture book by Caldecott Medalist Erin E. Stead The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation—but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends.

  2. Miss Spider's Tea Party - 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF A BELOVED CHILDREN’S CLASSIC: In 1992, master toymaker, storyteller, and painter David Kirk created Miss Spider for his young daughter, Violet. Her fascination with the bug world and nature inspired him to create a story about a lonely spider who triumphs over rejection and fear through her goodness and love. Miss Spider’s Tea Party became an immediate bestseller and launched a book series that sold more than five million copies in twelve languages. “So why do insects run away, As they catch sight of me, When all that I am trying to do, Is ask them in for tea?” So wonders a solitary Miss Spider, unaware that her fellow bugs, terribly afraid of a creature so seemingly different, dare not even consider attending her party. Until, as events unfold, they see how gracious a spider she really is. For this story, his first picture book, David Kirk created 35 arresting paintings and original verse about an enticing arachnid and a host of other many-legged creatures. Readers of all ages can’t help cheering for Miss Spider in this engaging tale that may also be read as a counting book. Honors: Parenting magazine Best Book of the Year; National Parenting Publications Honor Book; Parents’ Choice Award-winner. Miss Spider and her family have won the hearts of children with their life-affirming outlook for a quarter of a century now. This gorgeous new edition of Miss Spider’s Tea Party celebrates Miss Spider’s success and welcomes the next generation of young readers.

Want to see books about parties?

Books About Imagination And Play and Being Yourself

Willow
Written by Rosemarie Brennan and Denise Brennan-Nelson & illustrated by Cyd Moore
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Miss Hawthorn’s room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that’s how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn’s classroom comes young Willow. She doesn’t color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.Willow is the first joint writing effort for sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan. Denise’s other Sleeping Bear Press books include Someday Is Not a Day of the Week and My Grandma Likes to Say. She lives in Howell, Michigan. Rosemarie Brennan juggles careers as a writing teacher and an author. She lives in Brighton, Michigan. Cyd Moore studied graphic design and fine arts at the University of Georgia. Her work includes posters, billboards, books, newspaper and magazine articles, and cassette and CD covers. She is the illustrator of I Love You, Stinky Face and I Miss You, Stinky Face. She lives in Commerce, Michigan.

Lily Wool
Written & illustrated by Paula Vasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

A little lamb with a great big imagination. A new picture book from Paula Vasquez filled with delightful illustrations depicting a little lamb intent on being true to herself. Lily Wool gets bored with all of the grazing and resting that the herd does and prefers to count stars and dream of adventures. When Lily finds a strand of loose wool, she lets her imagination run wild and has a grand time until she accidentally unravels a problem. Children will love seeing how Lily Wool puts her imagination and creativity to work to fix things, and how Lily discovers a way to help others while she finds her special place in the herd. Paula Vasquez,an avowed artist from childhood, studied graphic design at the Universidad Cat�lica de Chile, and honed her illustration skills with a post-graduate diploma from Finis Terrae University. She currently lives in Santiago de Chile writing and illustrating children’s picture books.

Harold Finds a Voice
Written & illustrated by Courtney Dicmas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Harold is an amazing mimic, and can imitate the sound of everything in his home. Tired of repeating the same old noises, he yearns to find out what other voices there are in the big, wide world. But what happens when he suddenly realises that he doesn’t yet have a voice of his own?This fantastic debut by author/illustrator Courtney Dicmas recounts Harold’s hilarious tale. It’s full of colour, humour and invention, and children will love to join in with Harold as he mimics everyday noises.

Honorable Mentions
  1. We're All Wonders - The unforgettable bestseller Wonder, now a major motion picture, has inspired a nationwide movement to Choose Kind. Now parents and educators can introduce the importance of choosing kind to younger readers with this gorgeous picture book, featuring Auggie and Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R. J. Palacio. Over 6 million people have fallen in love with Wonder and have joined the movement to Choose Kind. Now younger readers can meet Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, and his beloved dog, Daisy. Countless fans have asked R. J. Palacio to write a book for younger readers. With We’re All Wonders, she makes her picture-book debut as both author and artist, with a spare, powerful text and striking, richly imagined illustrations. Palacio shows readers what it’s like to live in Auggie’s world—a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he’s not always seen that way. We’re All Wonders may be Auggie’s story, but it taps into every child’s longing to belong, and to be seen for who they truly are. It’s the perfect way for families and educators to talk about empathy and kindness with young children. Praise for Wonder: A #1 New York Times Bestseller A USA Today Top 100 Bestseller An Indie Bestseller A Time Magazine 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time Selection A Washington Post Best Kids’ Book A New York Times Book Review Notable Book An NPR Outstanding Backseat Book Club Pick An Entertainment Weekly 10 Great Kids’ Books Selection “A beautiful, funny and sometimes sob-making story of quiet transformation.” —The Wall Street Journal “A crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for.” —Entertainment Weekly “Rich and memorable.” —The New York Times Book Review

  2. Thesaurus Has a Secret - From author-illustrator Anya Glazer comes a humorous picture book for dinosaur fans and word lovers of all ages! Thesaurus is an ordinary dinosaur. A very ordinary dinosaur . . . who just happens to love words. And the other dinos know that’s just who he is. But behind his verbose and fancy language, Thesaurus has also been keeping something absolutely, very, extremely top secret. But as his lies begin to stack up, someone begins to notice. And if the other dinos discover what Thesaurus is hiding, they won’t think he’s such a normal dinosaur after all.

  3. Boy and Bot - The story of an irresistible friendship between a boy and a robot, now in board for little hands. One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun. But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he’s sick! So Boy tucks the bot into bed and falls asleep. Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning boy! Can the Inventor help fix him? Using the perfect blend of sweetness and humor, this story of an adorable duo will win the hearts of the very youngest readers.

  4. But Not the Armadillo - For more than thirty-five years, readers have wondered what happens to the mystery armadillo on the last page of Sandra Boynton’s classic board book, But Not the Hippopotamus. Now, at last, comes the long-awaited sequel. Behold the armadillo, a cute and curious creature who follows his nose wherever it goes. Join him as he quietly travels the less-traveled road: he picks cranberries, stops and smells the flowers, takes a nap in the meadow, searches out the source of a beautiful melody, and at day’s end passes an overeager hippo sprinting the other direction. Told with Boynton’s signature charm and unpredictability, But Not the Armadillo is a gentle and worthy companion book to But Not the Hippopotamus—perfect for curious little kids and grown-ups alike. And for everyone who has ever been concerned about the armadillo: Don’t worry. He’s completely fine just the way he is.

Books About Imagination And Play and Nature

Bugs Galore
Written by Peter Stein & illustrated by Bob Staake
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Dig in as a flurry of bugs of every shape, size, and color crawl across the page in a veritable infestation of whimsy and humor. Cars Galore creators Peter Stein and Bob Staake return with an in-the-dirt, high-inthe-sky critter tale buzzing with nonstop rhymes and swarming with comical retro illustrations.

Something Extraordinary
Written & illustrated by Ben Clanton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Amazing things are happening all around you. You just need to know where to look—and this whimsical picture book is the perfect place to start.

Have you ever wished for something extraordinary? Like the ability to fly? Or to breathe underwater? What if you could talk to animals?

It’s fun to wish for amazing things. But take a look around, and you just might find that the most “ordinary” things…can be extraordinary.

Stars
Written by Mary Lyn Ray & illustrated by Marla Frazee
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-5

Celebrate all of the glittering stars in the sky in this tender Classic Board Book by acclaimed author Mary Lyn Ray and Caldecott Honor winner Marla Frazee!

A star is how you know it’s almost night. As soon as you see one, there’s another, and another. And the dark that comes doesn’t feel so dark. What if you could have a star?

Look very closely in this lovely Classic Board Book for all kinds of stars both near and far…because stars are everywhere. Not just in the sky.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Stick - When a young boy finds a stick on the ground and reads the inspiring words carved into it, his life begins to change until he fulfills lifelong dreams and discovers the truth about giving.

  2. The Magic Hour - Inspired by the world-famous John Singer Sargent painting, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, this charming book brings the Victorian subjects to life One long, hot summer, Lily and Rose are playing in the garden of a large country house when they spot a strange light. It must be fairies! Determined to catch them, they sneak out at sunset to find the fairies. However, things aren’t always what they seem. Will Lily and Rose be disappointed or will they find something that’s magic in its own way? Based on the world-famous John Singer Sargent painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, Ian Beck brings the subjects to life and reveals an inspirational world behind the painting.

  3. Outside In - From the New York Times best-selling author behind _The Quiet Book _comes a mindful contemplation on the many ways nature affects our everyday lives, perfect for fans of Joyce Sidman and Julie Fogliano.  Outside is waiting, the most patient playmate of all. The most generous friend. The most miraculous inventor. This thought-provoking picture book poetically underscores our powerful and enduring connection with nature, not so easily obscured by lives spent indoors.
    Rhythmic, powerful language shows us how our world is made and the many ways Outside comes in to help and heal us, and reminds us that we are all part of a much greater universe. Emotive illustrations evoke the beauty, simplicity, and wonder that await us all . . . outside.

Want to see books about nature?

Books About Imagination And Play and Art

Once Upon an Alphabet
Written & illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

The New York Times bestselling alphabet/story book from the artist of The Day the Crayons Quit is now available in an abridged edition for the littlest learners! The perfect introduction to both the alphabet and to the world of Oliver Jeffers! This clever and funny board book from the #1 bestselling illustrator of The Day the Crayons Quit and creator of Stuck gives center stage to Oliver Jeffers’ whimsical illustrations as it helps parents and toddlers connect through learning and art. A must-have. Praise for Once Upon an Alphabet: An Amazon Best Book of 2014! A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year! A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year! “The silly, spare, slightly surreal text occasionally rhymes and endlessly surprises. An utterly delightful alphabet book.”-Kirkus Review, starred review “With wry humor, equally droll ink illustrations, and a solid dose of alliteration, Jeffers creates delightful mini-narratives for each letter of the alphabet.”-Publishers Weekly, starred review “An altogether stimulating, surprising, and satisfying reading experience.”-School Library Journal, starred review “Whimsical, funny, occasionally tragic, and highly entertaining, this collection of (sometimes) interlocking tales is brilliantly inventive.”-Horn Book, starred review “Jeffers knows how to catch the attention of his young audience while challenging their imagination, intellect and vocabulary. This whimsical exploration of letters and language begs to be read over and over again.”-BookPage “Handsome, humorous and clad in bright tomato-red, [this] is the sort of book you may want to rush into the arms of imaginative, good-natured children between 4 and 10 years old. [T]his is no traditional abecedarian exercise.The stories are wonderfully varied, sometimes philosophical and often end surprisingly; the drawings are just as quirky and unpredictable.”-The Wall Street Journal “[W]itty from A to Z . . . no one would blame you for having a copy even if there are no kids in the house. Think of it as Edward Gorey for the preschool set — and their hip parents.”-The Washington Post

Simon at the Art Museum
Written by Christina Soontornvat & illustrated by Christine Davenier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A little boy visits an art museum for the first time in this fun, sweet picture book about first experiences and seeing things from new perspectives.

Simon is having a great time at the museum with his parents. There are slippery, slidey floors! Pigeons flying around the reflecting pool! And cheesecake in the café! But they’re not really here for any of that. No, Simon has to look at art.

And more art.

So. Much. Art.

There’s so much art that soon Simon needs to take a break and finds somewhere to sit. From his bench, he begins to notice how many different people are visiting the museum and the many different ways they react to the art they see. Some people are alone. Some are in groups. Some people smile. Some shake their heads. Some even shed a tear.

And Simon is right in the center of it, watching until he’s inspired to give all the art another try. By the end of the day, he may even find a piece that can rival a slice of cheesecake!

The Cloud
Written & illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Everyone has fun in art class except for one little girl who doesn’t draw anything until a classmate figures out a way to make her smile.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Draw! - Based on his own childhood, beloved and award-winning artist Raúl Colón’s wordless book is about the limitless nature of creativity and imagination. A boy alone in his room. Pencils. Sketchbook in hand. What would it be like to go on safari? Imagine. Draw… A boy named Leonardo begins to imagine and then to draw a world afar—first a rhinoceros, and then he meets some monkeys, and he always has a friendly elephant at his side. Soon he finds himself in the jungle and carried away by the sheer power of his imagination, seeing the world through his own eyes and making friends along the way.

  2. Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper - One little doodle girl takes control of her own creative destiny in this funny and imaginative book perfect for fans of Harold and the Purple Crayon! Penny lives on a plain piece of paper, with just one problem—she’s bored. There’s nothing to do, no one to talk to, not a single way to keep herself entertained! Not one to wallow, Penny makes a decision: it’s high time she ventured out into the world and explored other types of paper. But when she’s not serious enough for the newspaper, not angular enough for the graph paper, and not repetitive enough for the wrapping paper, Penny doesn’t know where she belongs. With some help from the friends she’s met along her journey, though, she comes up with the perfect paper plan for herself. In this fun and funny book about fitting in and finding home, imagination wins the day!

  3. Sam & Eva - Harold and the Purple Crayon meets Tom and Jerry in this sweet and funny picture book about a boy and girl who must balance their creativity and figure out how to cooperate after their drawings come to life. When Sam starts drawing a super cool velociraptor, Eva decides to join in. But Sam isn’t too happy about the collaboration. Soon Eva and Sam are locked in an epic creative clash, bringing to life everything from superhero marmots to exploding confetti. But when their masterpieces turn to mayhem will Sam stay stubbornly solo or will he realize that sometimes the best work comes from teamwork?

  4. When Pencil Met the Markers - A purple marker shows his friends that being creative means sometimes coloring outside the lines in When Pencil Met the Markers, the imaginative, inspiring, and colorful follow-up to When Pencil Met Eraser from writers Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr., and illustrator German Blanco. Meet the Markers! They love to color. But Purple Marker colors everywhere―even outside the lines. When the other markers call his creativity a mistake, it’s up to Pencil and Eraser to help Purple discover how making mistakes and making art go hand-in-hand. This hilarious and clever picture book allows Pencil and Eraser to show Purple Marker―and the rest of us―how to turn our messes into successes and do what makes us happy. When Pencil Met the Markers brings engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever story to the everyday. The result? A funny, effective message about how the best art can come from trying something new. An Imprint Book

Books About Imagination And Play and The Zoo

The Way to the Zoo
Written & illustrated by John Burningham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Discovering a magical door in her bedroom that leads her to the zoo, a little girl is tempted to bring just one little bear back to her room, and then a menagerie of smaller animals, and then an irresistible medley of big animals, until pandemonium ensues.

Sloth Slept on
Written & illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Who’s that sleeping in our tree? When a group of kids finds an animal happily napping in their backyard, they set out to discover what it is and where it belongs. As they search and search—never noticing the posters and articles about a sloth that’s fled the zoo—they finally discover the identity of the snoozing creature. When sloth wakes up, it’s in for a BIG surprise!

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly?
Written by Dan Richards & illustrated by Jeff Newman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Dan Richards teams up with celebrated artist, Jeff Newman, to share a funny and vibrant picture book about how powerful a child’s imagination can be…with a little encouragement.

Evan asks a simple question, “Can one balloon make an elephant fly?”

At first, his mother is too busy to answer. But when she takes the time to play the game with her son…magic happens.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Flops - A cryptozoological kids book that not only introduces the scientific method but also emphasizes the importance of imagination and play. A book full of advice about how not to make a flop’s life hard! What is a flop? A flop is malleable, can’t make a telephone call on its own, can’t wear a collar, and many other things besides. There are also hundreds of different sorts of flops. In a humorous, pseudo-scientific guide, Delphine Durand creates a world teeming with flops, describing their characteristics and lifestyles with great humor and precision.

  2. One Night in the Zoo - It’s only when all the visitors have gone home that the real fun starts in the zoo! Enjoy counting the wide variety of animals as you follow them through the night, and find out what mischief they get into. A summary showing each animal in the book in number order supports children in recapping what they have read. Lime/Band 11 books have longer sentence structures and a greater use of literary language. Ideas for reading at the back of the book provide practical support and stimulating activities.

Want to see books about the zoo?

Books About Imagination And Play and Jobs And Careers

I Can Dream
Written & illustrated by Betsy Snyder
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Dream big! Young readers help characters pursue their aspirations—from driving a race car to traveling to Mars— just by wiggling their fingers! But wait! There’s even more fun. In an impressive gatefold finale, kids help a firefighter, astronaut, artist, and more come together to follow their dreams. With interactive holes on every page and a satisfyingly funny touch-and-feel cover, this charming board book offers a uniquely entertaining way to play and read together.

Dive In!
Written by April Jones Prince & illustrated by Michelle Berg
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

It’s a busy day on the construction site, and these industrious mice are up to something big! But what are they working on? Bold, colorful illustrations and recognizable vehicles with moving parts add to the fun, with hidden clues for the careful observer. Is that red paint . . . or red sauce? Is that a construction pit . . . or a drain? Children will delight in guessing their way to the end, when the final spread reveals a carefully constructed surprise. It’s favorite vehicles meet lunchtime and bathtime in these novelty board books with interactive mechanisms.

Lola Dutch When I Grow Up
Written & illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright and Kenneth Wright
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Lola Dutch is always bursting with grand ideas—so of course she has many ideas for what she wants to be when she grows up! She could be a magnificent performer . . . or a daring inventor . . . or a brilliant botanist . . . there are exciting ideas all around! But Lola is too excited—she wants to try EVERYTHING. How will she ever decide what she is destined to become? The curious and creative Lola Dutch is inspired to imagine every way to explore the wonder of her world. And she doesn’t have to wait until she grows up! Inspired by their own four gorgeously creative children, Sarah Jane and Kenneth Wright are thrilled to continue this fun series about the unstoppable Lola Dutch, a larger-than-life character perfect for fans of Olivia and Fancy Nancy.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Tiny Town - Embark on a Tiny Tour! These adorable shaped board books take young readers on a tour through a teeny world with every turn of the page. Die-cuts on each page lead to the next adventure, finally ending in the comforts of home. Toddlers will delight in guessing what comes next while learning essential prediction skills. Shaped like buildings and featuring neon accents throughout, these cute books have great value and will prove irresistible to children eager to create their own tiny world.

  2. When I Grow Up - “A small child muses about the future as Mom guides the bedtime routine…Winning text and illustrations for bedtime.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “The whimsical pictures fill every page with happiness and variety as Chen presents exuberant ideas for the big dreams and wishes of childhood.” —Booklist “As a mother helps her young son get ready for bed…Mom assures him that the future is wide open, and ‘No matter what, I will always be there for you.’” —Publishers Weekly A little boy shares with his mom his dreams of what he might be when he grows up in this tender picture book from Julie Chen the host of Big Brother and formerly the host of The Talk and New York Times bestselling artist and Caldecott Honor recipient Diane Goode. One night while getting ready for bed a little boy starts to wonder what will life be like when he grows up. He could be a painter, a musician, a mountain climber, a mayor… He tells his mother all about his big ideas…and all of the other things he wants to do. But when will he grow up? And why does it take so long?

Epilogue

27 books that are just too good to leave off of our imagination and play list.
  1. Grandpa's Top Threes - A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience. Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.

  2. Just Read! - These kids all love to read—and every time they open a book, they open up a whole new world! This exuberant story celebrates reading as it follows a diverse group of children who read wherever and whenever they can. Sometimes, they even read together, in a special fort they’ve built. Victoria Tentler-Krylov’s fanciful art and Lori Degman’s rollicking text will get every child excited about reading!

  3. A House That Once Was - The dynamic duo of Ezra Jack Keats Award–winning author Julie Fogliano and Caldecott Award–winning illustrator Lane Smith team up to tell a delightful story about a boy and a girl who explore an abandoned house and imagine who might have lived there in A House That Once Was. Deep in the woods is a house just a house that once was but now isn’t a home. Who lived in that house? Who walked down its hallways? Why did they leave it, and where did they go? Two children set off to find the answers, piecing together clues found, books left behind, forgotten photos, discarded toys, and creating their own vision of those who came before.

  4. The Watermelon Seed - With perfect comic pacing, Greg Pizzoli introduces us to one funny crocodile who has one big fear: swallowing a watermelon seed. What will he do when his greatest fear is realized? Will vines sprout out his ears? Will his skin turn pink? This crocodile has a wild imagination that kids will love. With bold color and beautiful sense of design, Greg Pizzoli’s picture book debut takes this familiar childhood worry and gives us a true gem in the vein of I Want My Hat Back and Not a Box.

  1. Hip, Hip . . . Beret! - A playful and humorous picture book about what happens to Bella’s beret when the wind sweeps it away. Find a few special touchable berets on the cover and inside! Granpère gifts Bella the hat she’d always wanted—a beret! But just as she places it on her head, a gust of wind whisks it away. When the beret accidentally lands in a chef’s pan . . . hip, hip, souflée! When it mistakenly lands on the head of a dancer . . . hip, hip, ballet! The wind continues to sweep the hat farther and farther away. Will Bella ever get back her beloved beret? Children will love to read aloud this humorous and heartfelt story filled with repetition, rhyme, and hilarious wordplay. On the cover and inside of the book, find a few special touchable berets as an interactive and tactile element to engage young readers.

  2. Crab and Whale - Based on over 20 years experience by mindfulness for kids expert Christiane Kerr, this is a fun and heartwarming story that subtly introduces the skills of mindfulness to children (ages 2 - 8). Children will find themselves becoming more aware of their own bodies, breath, emotions and surroundings without even realizing it. Featured on Mindful.org ‘Seven Mindful Children’s books’ August 2018. Crab and Whale is carefully designed to help even the most energetic children find a moment of calm and focus. Also includes a special mindful breathing exercise and affirmation for children. -Introduces mindfulness to kids aged 2 to 8 -Based on 20 years’ experience working with children -Perfect for home and classroom use -Introduces theme of kindness From the reviews “A ground breaking book about mindfulness for small children” “Brilliant story and techniques… Recommended by a friend for my child struggling to get to sleep as he was worrying. Its a Great book, that you can read again and again. Definitely a book I would recommend.” “A truly heartwarming story celebrating kindness and gently introducing children to the life-changing power of mindfulness.” - Sir Anthony Seldon, former Headmaster & mindfulness in schools pioneer

  3. CookieBot! (Harry and Horsie Adventures) - The Problem: Harry and Horsie want cookies, but the jar is way out of reach. The Solution: Build CookieBot—the most amazing cookie-grabbing robot ever! What could go wrong?

  4. Cat Nap - A kitten doesn’t want to take a nap in this book about opposites by the author of Early Bird. It’s naptime, and Cat is ready for Kitten to settle down. But Kitten has other ideas!In this book filled with opposites (big and little, black and white, sleepy and awake) Toni Yuly proves once again -as she did with Early Bird and Night Owl - that simple concepts come alive for the youngest readers through bold art and charming language.

  1. Cat Nap - A kitten doesn’t want to take a nap in this book about opposites by the author of Early Bird. It’s naptime, and Cat is ready for Kitten to settle down. But Kitten has other ideas!In this book filled with opposites (big and little, black and white, sleepy and awake) Toni Yuly proves once again -as she did with Early Bird and Night Owl - that simple concepts come alive for the youngest readers through bold art and charming language.

  2. First Stories: The Jungle Book - Push, pull, and slide the scenes to bring the classic story of The Jungle Book to life. Meet Mowgli the man-cub, he’s wild as wild can be! First Stories: The Jungle Book is a perfect introduction to this classic tale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Mowgli, Baloo, Shere Khan, and Father Wolf. This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by illustrator Miriam Bos.

  3. When Your Llama Needs a Haircut - When it’s picture day and you realize your llama needs a haircut, you’ll need a good comb and some luck! This charming and hilarious board book features one shaggy llama and a whole lot of hairstyles! Uh-oh. It’s picture day and someone’s a mess! Does your llama need a haircut? After a hilarious shampoo, it’s time to decide which style would be best for your shaggy llama. A mohawk? Layers? Or how about a brand-new fur color? But be careful…or you just might end up with a haircut, too!

  4. If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! - The third book in the bestselling MAGNOLIA SAYS DON’T! series is another loud and cautionary tale of what not to do—this time, at the library! If you see a poster that says “You Can Do Anything at the Library!”, it is NOT giving you permission to put on a circus! But Magnolia doesn’t see any problem with setting up her own big top. She’s got a lot of gusto and one mean human cannonball routine. So what if her greatest show on Earth won’t fit between bookshelves? Elise Parsley’s boldly expressive illustrations perfectly complement this mostly-librarian-approved guide on how to be everything BUT quiet in the library!

  1. Flip, Flap, Fly! - A baby bird, fish, snake, otter, duck, mouse, and child merrily meet at a pond after being helped by their mamas all morning. On board pages.

  2. Aw, Nuts! - Squirrel sets off on a chase after the perfect acorn in debut author-illustrator Rob McClurkan’s picture book Aw, Nuts! With bold, graphic art, Squirrel will have young readers laughing out loud on every page, eager to find out what will happen next. Squirrel loves acorns, so when he spots the perfect one, he must have it! But it bounces away. . . . So he jumps into a taxi, but the taxi runs out of gas. Aw, nuts! He bounces on a pogo stick, but it lands in a hole. Aw, nuts! He hops on a boat, gets shipped away, hitches a ride on a little girl’s bike, and more! Will Squirrel be able to catch up to the most delicious acorn ever?

  3. Flashlight Night - Flashlight Night is an ode to the power of imagination and the wonder of books. Three children use a flashlight to light a path around their backyard at night; in the flashlight’s beam another world looms. Our heroes encounter spooky woods, a fearsome tiger, a time-forgotten tomb, an Egyptian god, a sword-fighting pirate, and a giant squid. With ingenuity, they vanquish all, then return to their tree house—braver, closer, and wiser than before—to read the books that inspired their adventure.

  4. Dressing Up - We’re amazing! We can dress up, sing, dance and make music. There’s nobody quite like us! Enjoy the antics of this inclusive and diverse group of friends, as they celebrate the natural and boundless creativity to be found in every child.

  1. Super Manny Stands Up! - New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio and illustrator Stephanie Graegin bring a lionhearted new hero to life in this tender, sparkling story about standing up for what’s right—and finding your inner superpowers. Every day after school, Manny saves the world from formidable foes. I AM FEARLESS! I AM STRONG! I AM BRAVE! I AM POWERFUL! I AM INVINCIBLE! Zombie bears, evil cloud monsters, and alien robots with laser beam eyes are no match for Super Manny. But when Manny encounters a real-life nemesis in the school cafeteria, will he be able to summon his superhero strength to save the day?

  2. DogFish - Everyone has a dog. Except for one little boy. He has a goldfish. He needs a dog. Mom says, “Why do you need a dog when you have such a nice goldfish?” But goldfish can’t catch sticks or go for walks or wag their tails…. Can they? Maybe they can…

  3. Say Zoop - Make some noise! Shout “OH!” Whisper “oh!” Say “Zoop”? Yes! “Zoop!” “Zoop!” “Zoop!” The newest book from Hervé Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages. In this worthy and exhilarating companion to the bestselling trio launched with Press Here, Tullet’s beloved dots will have readers literally “”Ooh””-ing and “”Ahh””-ing out loud in a happy collective encore. Say Zoop! is an ideal interactive book for toddlers and young children Helps children learn colors and participation Excellent as a preschool read aloud book

  4. Bath! Bath! Bath! - Bath time is fun! fun! fun! in this playful board book! Today we had such fun! fun! fun! But now the day is done! done! done! After a fun-filled day, it’s time to go home and take a bath! From washing tiny toes and your little nose to making rubber ducky go quack! quack! quack!, bath time is fun! fun! fun! The rhyming text makes this the perfect read-along story to get little ones excited for bath time.

  1. Jumanji - Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle now Sony’s highest grossing film of all time! Over thirty years ago, Peter and Judy first found the game—Jumanji—with the instructions that once the game is started, it must be finished or it will go on forever—and it was then, with this same wonderment, readers found Jumanji, too. Since its original publication, Jumanji has been honored with many awards, including the Caldecott Medal, and in 1996, the surreal story was adapted to fit the big screen for the first time.

  2. Susan Laughs - Rhyming couplets describe a wide range of common emotions and activities experienced by a little girl who uses a wheelchair.

  3. What To Do With a Box - If you give a child a box, who can tell what will happen next? It may become a library or a boat. It could set the scene for a fairy tale or a wild expedition. The most wonderful thing is its seemingly endless capacity for magical adventure, a feature imaginatively captured in cardboardesque art by Chris Sheban and rhythmically celebrated in this poetic tribute by renowned children’s author Jane Yolen.

  4. Hiding Heidi - A beautiful and enchanting story by exciting new talent Fiona Woodcock, about a little girl with an amazing gift for concealing herself. Meet Heidi—if you can find her, that is! Heidi is the best at hiding: in school, at the playground, or in the park. Heidi’s friends know how much she loves hiding, so they always let her play and win. But Heidi learns the importance of sharing the limelight with other people when being too good at hiding makes her miss all the other fun her friends are having—and how much more fun it can be when you appreciate what your friends are good at too! She learns Freddie is great at bouncing on hippity-hops, Katie is sensational at roller-skating, and Lizzie is incredible at climbing. Heidi then realizes that she has fun doing the activities her friends like, even if she isn’t the best.

  1. Chimpanzees for Tea! - A silly, fun version of the game “telephone”—in which a grocery list committed to memory goes playfully awry. One day, Vincent’s mother asks him to go to the store to pick up a few items: “a bunch of carrots, a box of rice, some China tea, a big, firm pear, and a tin of peas” to be precise. “And hurry home in time for tea!” she says. Sounds easy enough. Yet distractions are at every turn, causing havoc with Vincent’s memory. All of a sudden, a tin of peas is replaced by a trapeze; a big, firm pear becomes a big furry bear; and a box of rice transforms into a box of mice! Needless to say, Vincent’s mother is in for quite a surprise. Told with a playful rhythm for reading aloud and illustrated with exuberance and great child appeal, this humorous picture book will have kids laughing and asking for repeated readings.

  2. Look at Me, I'm a Robot! - Features pictures of robots, with die-cut eye holes so readers can use the book as a mask.

  3. Color Blocked - The color is blocked! Readers must rub, turn, and tap the pages to straighten out pipes, unplug corks, and keep the color flowing. But watch out—the color might run faster than you can keep up! Along the way, readers will learn primary colors, how mixing colors can make secondary colors, and why you should never, ever, put a turtle in charge.

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