Best Kids Books About Word play

34 Kids Books About Word play

Updated Feb. 9, 2019
Max's Castle book
#1
Max's Castle
Written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Lemony Snickers

Max's Castle is a really clever book and sure to fascinate any early reader. The book brilliantly explores words by mixing around or swapping the letters in one word to create an amalgamation of similar words and anagrams. Early readers are sure to enjoy, for example, that by simply adding an "l" block to the word "adder," Max and his three brothers smartly create a ladder to escape from the dangerous adder in the dungeon of the castle. Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov have some fun with the illustrations and anagrams surprising us with threatening pirates in one page before turning "pirates" into harmless "rat pies" in the next page. This book is sure to delight readers with its wit and imaginative exploration of letters.

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.

I Can Be Anything book
#2
I Can Be Anything
Written by Jerry Spinelli and illustrated by Jimmy Liao
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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

Say What? book
#3
Say What?
Written by Angela DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Joey Chou
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

With an interactive text and bright, playful illustrations, explore what baby animals really mean when they make their adorable baby animal sounds. When a lion says ROAR, does he really mean MORE? When a cow says MOO, does she really mean YOU? How do we know what animals say when they say what they say with their sounds everyday? With an interactive text and bright, playful illustrations, Angela DiTerlizzi and Joey Chou explore what baby animals really mean when they make their adorable baby animal sounds.

Stegothesaurus book
#4
Stegothesaurus
Written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by T. L. McBeth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Stegothesaurus has little in common with his fellow dinosaurs until he meets an allosaurus that seems as hungry for synonyms as he is.

Llamaphones book
#5
Llamaphones
Written and illustrated by Janik Coat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

In Janik Coat'smuch-anticipated follow-up to Hippoposites and Rhymoceros, Llamaphoneswill feature witty words that may sound the same but are spelled differently--and have different meanings. Like the other books in the series, this one will feature surprising novelty features, including a touch-and-feel element, making homophones an easy and fun concept to learn.

Smick book
#6
Smick
Written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Juana Medina
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Smick is a BIG dog. Sit, Smick. Chick is a little chick. Stay, Smick! So what happens when they see a stick? Written by New York Times bestselling author Doreen Cronin and ingeniously illustrated by newcomer Juana Medina, Smick is a story of unlikely friendship, a sense of adventure, and a lot of wonderful wordplay.

Mirror Mirror book
#7
Mirror Mirror
Written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

What’s brewing when two favorites—poetry and fairy tales—are turned (literally) on their heads? It’s a revolutionary recipe: an infectious new genre of poetry and a lovably modern take on classic stories. First, read the poems forward (how old-fashioned!), then reverse the lines and read again to give familiar tales, from Sleeping Beauty to that Charming Prince, a delicious new spin. Witty, irreverent, and warm, this gorgeously illustrated and utterly unique offering holds a mirror up to language and fairy tales, and renews the fun and magic of both.

Marigold Bakes a Cake book
#8
Marigold Bakes a Cake
Written and illustrated by Mike Malbrough
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

For fans of Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon… series. Baking the perfect cake is how Marigold spends Mondays. Being messy, noisy, and disruptive in Marigold’s kitchen are how one finch, two pigeons, and three loons spend their Mondays! Marigold the cat loves Mondays, for that is when he bakes cakes! With his favorite recipe in front of him, he rolls up his sleeves and gets down to it. He whips up egg whites . . . Easy. He adds a cup of milk . . . Peasy. Then he sprinkles in just a pinch of . . . of finch?! That’s not right at all! Neither are the smidgeons of pigeons or the spoonsfull of loons. Clearly a chase is in order! Yet all that leads to is a spectacularly messy kitchen. And no cake. With a recipe comprised of equal parts humor and charm, author-illustrator Mike Malbrough has cooked up a scrumptious laugh-out-loud addition to the great tradition of interruption books. Perfect for fans of Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and David Ezra Stein’s Interrupting Chicken.

Lexie the Word Wrangler book
#9
Lexie the Word Wrangler
Written by Rebecca Van Slyke and illustrated by Jessie Hartland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

This clever celebration of words and their meanings features a strong cowgirl who wrangles words alongside cattle. Lexie is the best wrangler west of the Mississippi—word wrangler, that is. She watches over baby letters while they grow into words and ties shorter words together into longer ones; she herds words into sentences, hitches sentences together, and pens them all in to tell a story. But lately, something seems off at the ranch. First the d goes missing from her bandana, leaving her with a banana to tie around her neck, and soon afterward every S-T-A-R in the sky turns into R-A-T-S. There’s no doubt about it—there’s a word rustler causing this ruckus, and Lexie plans to track him down . . . even if it means riding her horse through the sticky icing of a desert that’s suddenly become a giant dessert. This fantastic spin on “cowboy” stories populates Lexie’s ranch with lively letters and words, alongside the typical cattle and horses, and stars a smart, confident, charismatic heroine. Rebecca Van Slyke’s creative, silly wordplay pairs perfectly with Jessie Hartland’s lively illustrations, and there’s even a glossary of helpful terms for up-and-coming word wranglers.

Click! book
#10
Click!
Written and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Things are not at all what they seem in this picture book mystery filled with rhyming wordplay. “It’s a perfect day to catch a cat,” muses a dog. But to his annoyance, all he seems to find are things that rhyme with cat. Rat. Bat. Gnat. Why can’t he catch a cat?! In a fascinating and delightful twist, we ‘click!’ to see the reason: the cat has been telling the story all along!

Chimpanzees for Tea! book
#11
Chimpanzees for Tea!
Written and illustrated by Jo Empson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

Echo Echo book
#12
Echo Echo
Written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A new book of unique reversible poems based on Greek myths from the creator of Mirror Mirror What happens when you hold up a mirror to poems about Greek myths? You get a brand-new perspective on the classics! And that is just what happens in Echo Echo, the newest collection of reverso poems from Marilyn Singer. Read one way, each poem tells the story of a familiar myth; but when read in reverse, the poems reveal a new point of view! Readers will delight in uncovering the dual points of view in well-known legends, including the stories of Pandora’s box, King Midas and his golden touch, Perseus and Medusa, Pygmalion, Icarus and Daedalus, Demeter and Persephone, and Echo and Narcissus. These cunning verses combine with beautiful illustrations to create a collection of fourteen reverso poems to treasure.

The Book with No Pictures book
#13
The Book with No Pictures
Written and illustrated by B J Novak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A #1 New York Times bestseller, this innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian. You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . . BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming book
#14
I'm Just No Good at Rhyming
Written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-12

Meet the 21st century Shel Silverstein! Chris Harris's debut poetry collection molds wit and wordplay, nonsense and oxymoron, and visual and verbal sleight-of-hand in masterful ways that make you look at the world in a whole new wonderfully upside-down way. This entirely unique collection offers a surprise around every corner, from the ongoing rivalry between the author and illustrator, to the mysteriously misnumbered pages that can only be deciphered by a certain code-cracking poem, to the rhyming fact-checker in the footnotes who points out when "poetic license" gets out of hand. Adding to the fun: Lane Smith, bestselling creator of beloved hits like It's a Book and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, has spectacularly illustrated this extraordinary collection with nearly one hundred pieces of appropriately absurd art. It's a mischievous match made in heaven!

Watersong book
#15
Watersong
Written by Tim McCanna and illustrated by Richard Smythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"A fox's journey to take shelter from a rainstorm, told entirely in onomatopoeia"--

Oh, the Places You'll Go! book
#16
Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-17

Dr. Seuss's wonderfully wise Oh, the Places You'll Go! is the perfect send-off for grads--from nursery school, high school, college, and beyond! From soaring to high heights and seeing great sights to being left in a Lurch on a prickle-ly perch, Dr. Seuss addresses life's ups and downs with his trademark humorous verse and illustrations, while encouraging readers to find the success that lies within. In a starred review, Booklist notes, "Seuss's message is simple but never sappy: life may be a 'Great Balancing Act,' but through it all 'There's fun to be done.'" A perennial favorite and a perfect gift for anyone starting a new phase in their life!

A Name for Baby book
#17
A Name for Baby
Written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

“A name is a sound that follows you around. I’m listening for one," says Mother Mouse. Holding her new baby close, she fields suggestions from Sadie Snail, Kiki Cat, Merle Squirrel, and a host of other animals (many of whom would like to see the new baby named after themselves!). One by one, the animals suggest names for baby that would personally honor themselves. Lyrical text filled with wordplay will charm soon-to-be parents and soon-to-be older siblings alike.

Look book
#18
Look
Written and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Look! It’s a book! Starring a brother and sister who go to the zoo, see kangaroos and baboons, and get to bring home balloons! Told entirely in words that contain a double o, this playful story is a great choice for emerging readers. Bright illustrations and an engaging, interactive text will invite repeated readings. Hooray! A brother and sister can’t wait to go to the zoo, where they have an exciting day ahead full of food, balloons, baboons, and so much more. This playful concept-and-story book is ideal for new readers. Author-illustrator Fiona Woodcock’s spare text uses only words containing double o’s, an important concept for early literacy. Each word is cleverly woven into stunning illustrations. And it all ends with a bedtime book, of course. Good night!

Crankee Doodle book
#19
Crankee Doodle
Written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by Cece Bell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

“Yankee Doodle went to town / a-riding on a pony / stuck a feather in his hat / and called it macaroni.” Many know the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but few understand it. This unapologetically silly picture book reveals the legendary ride to town—and the whole macaroni thing—was actually the work of Mr. Doodle’s overeager pony. Mr. Doodle doesn’t want any pasta or even a trip into town. No wonder he’s so cranky! Includes a historical note.

See Hear book
#20
See Hear
Written by Tania McCartney and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

This innovative flip-format picture book is a sequel to the best-selling and CBCA Notable Book for 2017, Smile Cry. Piglet, Bunny and Cat return in a charming, whimsical sensory adventure that encourages kids to explore the multitude of ways that they can engage with the world around them, particularly via the senses of sight and sound. From watching ‘squiggly rain’ on a window to pointing out ‘heavenly horses’ in the clouds, from hearing ‘buzzing blossoms’ as bees collect pollen and nectar to ‘hot pan sizzles’ as a favourite meal is prepared, See Hear invites us to open our eyes and ears to the everyday magic that surrounds us. Younger kids will respond to the soft whimsical illustrations, while older readers will enjoy the onomatopoeic wordplay. Perfect for ages 3 and up, this is a book that will captivate children and parents alike.

Where Are the Words? book
#21
Where Are the Words?
Written by Jodi McKay and illustrated by Denise Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Period wants to write a story but can't find the words, so his friends offer their help. Question Mark asks around and Exclamation Point finds some enthusiastic words from some unexpected place. Now all Period needs is an idea, but from whom?

The Case of the Stinky Stench book
#22
The Case of the Stinky Stench
Written by Josh Funk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

There s a stinky stench in the fridge and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Inspector Croissant begs Sir French Toast and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron Von Waffle? A fetid fish in Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring delectable wordplay there s even an actual red herring and delicious art, this tasty tale is a treat for kids!"

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast book
#23
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast
Written and illustrated by Josh Funk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

A thoroughly delicious picture book about the funniest "food fight!" ever! Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast have a beautiful friendship—until they discover that there'sONLY ONE DROP of maple syrup left. Off they go, racing past the Orange Juice Fountain, skiing through Sauerkraut Peak, and reeling down the linguini. But who will enjoy the sweet taste of victory? And could working together be better than tearing each other apart? The action-packed rhyme makes for an adrenaline-filled breakfast . . . even without a drop of coffee!

Toucans, Too book
#24
Toucans, Too
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

This hilarious follow-up book to Cockatoo, Too features cockatoos, toucans, two-can stew, and gnus! One can. Two cans. Toucans? Toucans, too. Toucan stew???! The cockatoos are back, and the toucans are too! But the toucans think the cockatoos say "toucan stew" and run away in a toucan canoe, so the cockatoos make them some two-can stew, which attracts the gnus, who ask the reader, "Can gnu?" Bethanie Deeney Murguia's fabulous follow-up to the well-received Cockatoo, Too combines fantastically funny wordplay with lush, vibrant illustrations, making this a humorous read-aloud that both children and parents will love!

Blobfish Throws a Party book
#25
Blobfish Throws a Party
Written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Maggie Caton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Introducing Blobfish Throws a Party, a wild and hilarious story from award-winning author Miranda Paul! Blobfish lives at the bottom of the ocean with no lights, no friends, and no delicious treats. The only two ways he can think to change this would be to 1) throw a party, or 2) save the world in true hero style. He decides to do the first one. However, when he announces, "Deep sea party! Bring a treat to share!", the mermaids hear "Cheap, free party! Sling on a sheet to wear!", and the shorebirds hear "Cheep-peep party! Sing a tweet with flair!", and so on. Soon the whole world is partying in strange ways based on what they think they heard, and Blobfish is still sad and alone at the bottom of the sea. Will Blobfish ever get his lights, friends, and delicious treats?

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.