One of my first tips for choosing picture books that kids will fall in love with has always been – choose books with captivating illustrations. It is no surprise that the pictures inform your child’s first impression of a book, so choosing books with wonderful illustrations is a perfect place to start. Great illustrations inspire a child’s imagination, and in picture books the illustrations really do contribute as much as the story shared. This collection of books includes illustrations that truly are works of art, representing a range of artistic mediums and styles.
Animalia by Graeme Base: An alphabet book like no other, Graeme Base is a master of fascinating, detailed illustrations.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney: Aesop’s classic fable retold through stunning illustrations, this wordless picture book is clever and captivating.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by John Schoenherr: A girl and her father head out on a nighttime adventure to go owling. Beautiful watercolour illustrations.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Let the wild rumpus begin! There are many reasons why Where the Wild Things Are is an acclaimed classic, the fabulous illustrations being just one.
Time for Bed by Mem Fox. Illustrated by Jane Dyer: A beautiful bedtime book for young children, Time For Bed follows a series of animals saying goodnight to their mother through exquisite watercolour illustrations and simple rhyme.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg. Illustrated by Janet Ahlberg: I love that the illustrations in Each Peach Pear Plum invite children to find the next character to be featured in the poem.
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Illustrated by Patrick Benson: Three baby owls awake to find their mother gone. Where is she and when will she return? Beautiful illustrations and a classic story for young children experiencing separation anxiety.
Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse. Illustrated by Barbara Lavallee: Is it true that whatever a child does their parent will forgive them? This is the theme explored in this beautiful story of an Inuit mother and child.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: This list would not be complete without the wonderful illustrations of Eric Carle and The Very Hungry Caterpillar is our absolute favourite.
The Runaway Hug by Nick Bland. Illustrated by Freya Blackwood: A delightful story about sharing love within families.
There’s a Sea in My Bedroom by Margaret Wild: David is scared of the sea but when he hears the sea trapped inside a conch shell a wonderful adventure begins.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen: Who stole bear’s hat? He is on a mission to find out and the culprit might just pay the ultimate price!
Journey by Aaron Becker: Another wordless wonder, Journey is the story of a lonely girl who draws a magic door on her bedroom wall as an escape to a world of adventure.
How to Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers: We haven’t found an Oliver Jeffers book that hasn’t instantly become a firm favourite but I particularly love the illustrations in How to Catch a Star.
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. Illustrated by Barbara Cooney: Roxaboxen celebrates the a magical worlds created in the imaginations of children.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen: The clever combination of black and white and colour illustrations is integral to this lovely story of kindness and generosity.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury: Head off on an adventure, a bear hunt, with a family of brave explorers in this childhood classic. The alternating black and white illustrations with full watercolour pages is clever and captivating.
Iggy Pack, Architect by Andrea Beaty. Illustrations by David Roberts: Iggy has one passion – building – but when his second grade teacher dislikes architecture, what is Iggy to do – clever, humorous, spectacular!
Home by Carson Ellis: Home means many different things to the people, animals and magical creatures who inhabit them.
Flotsam by David Wiesner: A young beachcomber finds a camera washed up on the beach and the photos it contains are astonishing, as is the story contained in this fabulous wordless book.
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith: A very funny, fractured fairy tale, straight from the wolf’s mouth!
The Secret Lives of Princesses by Phillipe Lechermeier: The rich, detailed illustrations make this book a true treasure.
Mirror by Jeannie Baker: All of Jeannie Baker’s collage illustrations are spectacular. I love that Mirror tells the story of two families who live worlds apart.
Rapunzel by Paul O Zelinsky: A classic tale told through words and pictures that are thankfully nothing at all like the Disneyfied version.
The Fantastic Flying Books or Mr Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. Illustrated by Joe Bluhm: When Mr Morris Lessmore’s life is blown away he finds meaning in caring for the most magnificent library of books. A picture book for older readers that can be compared and contrasted with the Oscar winning short film.
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins: The paper-cut collages of Steve Jenkins are amazing and the concept of this non-fiction picture book – where children can see how they measure up to the actual size of a range of animals from around the world – is ingenious.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger: More of a concept book than a story, the stunning acrylic paintings of Green truly do tell
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Beth Krommes: A celebration of everything spiral in the natural world, shared through verse and striking scratchboard illustrations.
Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole by Lewis Carroll. Retold by Joe Rhatigan & Charles Numberg. Illustrated by Eric Puybaret: A beautiful introduction to Alice’s adventures, perfect for younger children.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: In this celebrated classic, a young boy takes a magical trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
Picture books are not just for tiny tots, in fact many of these stories are more suited to children in the early and middle years of primary/elementary school. Each title is linked to an Amazon page where you can find reviews and age recommendations for those you might not be personally familiar with. Happy reading!
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