Picture books help children to develop critical reading, creativity, and thinking skills. Beautifully illustrated, these books will inspire a love of reading, and create special moments of learning, love and wonder. Here we put together a list of some of the most beautifully illustrated picture books ever created, each with its own memorable story to tell. Huddle together your little ones with a good book, and let imagination run wild!
Leo, A Ghost Story
By Mac Barnett,
You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin. This charming tale of friendship—from two of the best young minds in picture books: the author of the Caldecott Honor–winning Extra Yarn and the illustrator of the Bologna Ragazzi Award–winning Josephine—is destined to become a modern classic that will delight readers for years to come.
The Tea Party in the Woods
When a young girl named Kikko realizes her father has forgotten the pie he was supposed to bring to Grandma’s house, she offers to try and catch him as he makes his way through the woods. She hurriedly follows her father’s footprints in the snow and happens upon a large house she has never seen before. Curious, Kikko peers through the window, when she is startled by a small lamb wearing a coat and carrying a purse. Even more surprising, the lamb speaks, asking her in a kind voice, “Are you here for the tea party?” Suddenly, Kikko realizes her trip through the woods has turned into something magical.
Award-winning author and illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi has beautifully crafted an original fairy tale picture book that will delight and enchant. The unique visual presentation features mostly black-and-white art with the occasional use of red or yellow to help guide readers through the pages. Kikko’s blend of courage and reticence along with her inquisitive nature makes her a character children will relate to, and the many unexpected twists and turns of her adventure keep the intrigue growing. The ambiguous ending — in which it is not clear whether Kikko imagined the tea party or if the animals simply disappeared back into the woods — provides a terrific opportunity for children to weigh in on what they think happened. This book also could launch classroom conversations about children’s own experiences of being trusted with big responsibilities.
I Want My Hat Back
The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborate than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor– and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.
Pattern-tastic Treasure Hunt
Learn to spot different patterns with this nature-inspired treasure hunt, which contains 70 first words to see and say. Turn the tabs of the chunky boards book to discover a world of stripes, spots and spirals, then try to spot the odd one out. Visual learning made fun.
Home might be a house in the country, an apartment in the city, or even a shoe. Home may be on the road or the sea, in the realm of myth, or in the artist’s own studio. A meditation on the concept of home and a visual treat that invites many return visits, this loving look at the places where people live marks the picture book debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the indie band the Decemberists.
Dillweed’s Revenge: A Deadly Dose of Magic
Dillweed’s wealthy parents go on frequent vacation trips, leaving him with the servants who take over as masters of the mansion and make Dillweed do their chores. Dillweed has a box of magical gems under his bed; and by opening the box, he unleashes shadowy monsters. The servants fall prey to deadly disasters caused by the shadow monsters and Dillweed’s parents come home and promptly fall prey to a similar fate. Dillweed now lives happily ever after with his faithful and constant companion, Skorped.
Short, but not sweet, definitely macabre, the intricate ink and watercolor illustrations carry this story into the graphic novel genre where it will be discovered by an appreciative audience of ages ten to twelve who delight in ghastly stories.
Swan; The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
By Laurel Snyder
One night, young Anna’s mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendentally gifted Anna Pavlova. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova is a heartbreakingly beautiful picture book biography perfect for aspiring ballerinas of all ages.
by Pamela Zagarenski
A little girl in a red hood gets to borrow a book her teacher promises is full of wonderful stories. As she races home with the book, the words leak out the bottom and drift away, until a clever fox catches them in his net. When she gets home, the girl is disappointed that the book only has pictures, no stories. She’s about to abandon the book when she hears a whispered voice telling her to use her imagination. Back she goes to the first illustration, where she tries to imagine what the story would be.
With each picture, her stories grow more creative and complex, until she falls asleep. In the morning, she rushes back to tell her teacher about the wonderful book, helping the clever fox reach some grapes along the way
Kay Nielsen: East of the Sun and West of the Moon
First published in 1914, East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a celebrated collection of fifteen fairy tales, gathered by legendary Norwegian folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe on their journeys across Norway in the mid-nineteenth century.
Nielsen’s illustrated edition of Asbjørnsen and Moe’s tales is considered a jewel of early 20th-century children’s literature, highly sought-after by art and book collectors worldwide. An original signed copy of the book sold at auction in 2008 commanded the highest price ever paid for an illustrated children’s book.
This finely crafted reprint restores the stunning detail and artistry of Nielsen’s images to their original splendor. Featuring 46 illustrations, including many enlarged details from Nielsen’s rare original watercolors, the book is printed in five colors with a lovingly designed slipcase. Three accompanying essays, illustrated with dozens of rare and previously unseen artworks by Nielsen, explore the history of Norwegian folktales, Nielsen’s life and work, and how this masterpiece came to be.
Karl Lagerfeld draws direct inspiration in East of the Sun and West of the Moon, paying homage to Nielsen’s magnificent illustrations for Fendi’s recent 90th anniversary haute couture collection.