I love reading stories with my kids that that cause them to leap into action afterward. Whether it’s running to build a fort like Brother and Sister Bear, begging to make Fancy Nancy cupcakes, or acting out scenes from Tuesdays at the Castle, I am all for books that engage their imagination.
Some of my favorite picture books are those that bring out the inner architect, designer, or engineer in my kids.
You know you’ve found a great story when your child races to grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and some markers immediately after the book ends.
Here are five of my favorite picture books that encourage creative expression – especially on paper. (Don’t worry, they’re all available through the Metro Library Network.)
5 Picture Books that Encourage Your Child’s Creative Expression
Written by Hiawyn Oram and illustrated by Susan Varley
We discovered Princess Chamomile’s Garden while browsing at the library one winter day. Princess Chamomile is a mouse who begs her parents to let her create a garden that she can play in and enjoy. As readers, we get to follow along with her garden plans from initial design to finished product. The garden she designs is realistic – yet full of fun for children. On the last page of the book, her hard work comes to life, and the effect is completely magical. We’ve read this book many times, and it always inspires my children to draw their own garden plans.
Written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
After reading this book for the first time at a friend’s house, it immediately went on our “Must Buy” book list. Van Dusen invites you into a boy’s imagination as he describes to his parents how he would design a house. It has everything and more that you ever hoped for as a kid in a dream house (complete with race track and anti-gravity room), and I guarantee your kids will want to draw up some plans of their own!
The author has also written another book called, “If I Built a Car” which is equally imaginative, and gorgeously illustrated. I highly recommend both.
Written by Bonnie Verburg and illustrated by Mark Teague
Mark Teague is one of our favorite illustrators, and his pictures bring to life a fantastic jungle treehouse that will have your fingers itching to draw one of your own. The playful rhythm and rhyme of Bonnie Verburg’s text lends itself well to the book’s imaginative pictures. And what kid (or grown-up!) doesn’t want to design their own fantastic treehouse?
Written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Suçie Stevenson
Henry and his big dog, Mudge, are favorite characters at our house. One of our favorite books of the series is set during a dreary February weekend. To fill their time, Henry and his parents find themselves building a castle out of cardboard boxes in the basement. They stumble upon the most fun they’ve had all winter. Seeing Henry’s parents join in the fun is a great element in this story, as is seeing their creative results. Caution: You may want to have some cardboard boxes on hand after reading this book!
Written and illustrated by Aaron Becker
A 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, Journey is a wordless picture book that makes you long to live in its pages.
When a lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall with a red crayon, what happens next is a magical adventure! After reading this book, my daughter spent several days creating her own perspective-style drawings – in which doorways reveal a new world beyond.
This book is the first in a series of wordless stories that follow children’s adventures aided by the use of a crayon.
So there you have it, my five favorite picture books for bringing out your child’s inner architect, engineer, designer…the possibilities are endless. The next time a long afternoon is stretched out before you, grab one of these picture books, a fresh pack of markers, and see where your creativity takes your family!
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