Creativity is such a gift and kids are so fortunate to enjoy it in its most unencumbered form. Still, childhood is a tricky time because it’s easy for the adults in their lives to squelch that creativity. These picture books about creativity encourage kids to explore their imagination and express it in enjoyable ways.
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31 Picture Books About Creativity
Here are 31 great books about creativity:
What Do You Do With an Idea
Published: February 1, 2014
This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.
Published: January 14, 2020
Meg is a brilliant and creative boxitect. She loves impressing her teacher and classmates with what she makes out of boxes.
But there’s a new kid at Maker School: Simone. Simone is good at everything, and worst of all, she’s a boxitect too.
When the annual Maker Match is held, Meg and Simone are paired as a team but can’t seem to stop arguing. When their extraordinary project turns into a huge disaster, they must find a way to join creative forces, lift each other up, and work together.
Published: May 31, 2022
To make . . . a cake, a garden, a song, you first gather, then make—and wait. To make a story (like this one), you gather, make, wait.
To make anything—big or small—it will take some time.
You may have to gather more, make more, and wait a little more, but you can create wonderful things if you just gather, make, and wait.
Published: April 10, 2018
This girl is determined to express herself! If she can’t draw her dreams, she’ll sculpt or build, carve or collage. If she can’t do that, she’ll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she’ll sing, dance, and dream…
Stunning mixed media illustrations, lyrical text, and a breathtaking gatefold conjure powerful magic in this heartfelt affirmation of art, imagination, and the resilience of the human spirit.
The Little Red Fort
Published: March 27, 2018
Ruby’s mind is always full of ideas.One day, she finds some old boards and decides to build something. She invites her brothers to help, but they just laugh and tell her she doesn’t know how to build.”Then I’ll learn,” she says.And she does!When she creates a dazzling fort that they all want to play in, it is Ruby who has the last laugh.With sprightly text and winsome pictures, this modern spin on the timeless favorite The Little Red Hen celebrates the pluck and ingenuity of young creators everywhere!
The Most Magnificent Thing
Published: August 1, 2013
The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.
For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just “make” her magnificent thing — she “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smoothes and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Published: September 23, 2010
A spill. A smear. A smudge. A tear. When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful!
A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.
Published: March 18, 2014
It’s time for this year’s Going Places contest! Finally. Time to build a go-cart, race it—and win. Each kid grabs an identical kit, and scrambles to build.
Everyone but Maya. She sure doesn’t seem to be in a hurry…and that sure doesn’t look like anybody else’s go-cart!
But who said it had to be a go-cart? And who said there’s only one way to cross the finish line?
Made by Maxine
Published: October 9, 2018
Maxine loves making new things from old things. She loves tinkering until she has solved a problem. She also loves her pet goldfish, Milton. So when it’s time for her school’s pet parade, she’s determined to create something that will allow Milton to march with the other animals. Finally, after trying, trying, and trying again, she discovers just the right combination of recycled odds and ends to create a fun, functional–and absolutely fabulous–solution to her predicament.
Be A Maker
Published: March 5, 2019
How many things can you make in a day? A tower, a friend, a change?
Rhyme, repetition, and a few seemingly straightforward questions engage young readers in a discussion about the many things we make―and the ways we can make a difference in the world. This simple, layered story celebrates creativity through beautiful rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations with a timely message.
Published: October 4, 2022
Busy Betty has always been busy . . . even when she was just a baby!
When Betty gives Frank a big hug, she realizes he needs a bath, PRONTO! Her best friend, Mae, is coming over, and Betty can’t have the smelliest dog in the whole world! But giving Frank a bath is harder than she thought and just when everything seems impossible, with Mae’s help, Betty learns she can accomplish anything with perseverance, teamwork, and one great idea.
The Book of Mistakes
Published: April 18, 2017
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.
When I Draw a Panda
Published: September 22, 2020
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.
Iggy Peck, Architect
Published: October 1, 2007
Both parents and children will love this fun-filled, inspiring, colorful picture book about the power of teamwork and the importance of celebrating individual gifts and self-expression.
Some kids sculpt sandcastles. Some make mud pies. Some construct great block towers. But none are better at building than Iggy Peck, who once erected a life-size replica of the Great Sphinx on his front lawn! It’s too bad that few people appreciate Iggy’s talent—certainly not his second-grade teacher, Miss Lila Greer. It looks as if Iggy will have to trade in his T-square for a box of crayons . . . until a fateful field trip proves just how useful a master builder can be.
Published: August 28, 2012
Marisol loves to paint. So when her teacher asks her to help make a mural for the school library, she can’t wait to begin! But how can Marisol make a sky without blue paint? After gazing out the bus window and watching from her porch as day turns into night, she closes her eyes and starts to dream. . . . From the award-winning Peter H. Reynolds comes a gentle, playful reminder that if we keep our hearts open and look beyond the expected, creative inspiration will come.
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Published: May 3, 2016
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.
A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
What To Do With a Box
Published: March 8, 2016
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.
Published: June 2, 2020
Katie is an ordinary girl who longs for an extraordinary pet—something more spectacular than a simple goldfish. Then one day Katie comes home to find a gift from her mother: a mysterious machine designed to help her create that one-of-a-kind creature. Each time she feeds different items into the machine, out comes a marvelously colorful new animal—like a purple monkey, rainbow-spotted horse, and green bunny! But none of them is just right. Through trial and error, Katie figures out the formula for her absolutely perfect SURPRISE pet.
The Color Collector
Published: April 15, 2021
The Color Collector is a poignant story about newness, friendship, and common ground. When a boy notices the new girl picking up all manner of debris and litter on their walks home from school he wants to know why. So she shows him the huge mural she’s created in her room that reminds her of the home she left behind. He learns all about where she’s come from and they both find how wonderful it is to make a new friend.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!
Published: April 1, 2005
When the child gets caught painting everything from the ceiling to the floor, Mama says “Ya ain’t a-gonna paint no more!” But nothing will keep this artist from painting! Written to the familiar tune “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,” the text bounces alongside vibrant stylized pen-and-ink drawings, while page-turns offer up a fun read-aloud guessing game in which kids will delightfully participate. What will the child paint next? “So I take some red and I paint my . . . HEAD!” Silliness paired with the ruckus read-aloud appeal will have every reader begging for repeat reads.
Maybe Something Beautiful
Published: April 12, 2016
What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!
With My Hands: Poems About Making Things
Published: March 27, 2018
Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud.
Art & Max
Published: October 4, 2010
Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max’s first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls. Although Max is inexperienced, he’s courageous and a quick learner. His energy and enthusiasm bring the adventure to its triumphant conclusion. Beginners everywhere will take heart.
If I Built a House
Published: October 25, 2012
In If I Built a Car, imaginative Jack dreamed up a whimsical fantasy ride that could do just about anything. Now he’s back and ready to build the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Jack’s limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.
Not a Box
Published: December 12, 2006
A box is just a box…unless it’s not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows.
Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over inside a cardboard box, and through play, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.
After reading this book aloud, continue the fun by drawing shapes like a triangle or circle, and asking your child what the triangle is NOT!
Published: September 15, 2003
Her teacher smiled. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”
Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw – she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. “There!” she says.
That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds’s delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.
Mix It Up
Published: September 16, 2014
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.
Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon
Published: October 25, 2012
Molly Lou Melon’s grandma taught her to be happy with herself no matter what, but that’s not all she learned. Molly Lou heard all about how her grandma didn’t have fancy store-bought toys when she was little. She made dolls out of twigs and flowers and created her own fun in her backyard.
So Molly Lou does just that, proving that the best thing to play with is a huge imagination!
I’m NOT just a Scribble
Published: January 22, 2018
Scribble, the book’s main character, never thought he was different until he met his first drawing. Then, after being left out because he didn’t look like everyone else. Scribble teaches the other drawings how to accept each other for who they are. Which enables them to create amazing art together!
Published: October 9, 2012
“One day that little pencil made a move, shivered slightly, quivered somewhat . . . and began to draw.”
Welcome back Banjo, the boy from THE RUNAWAY DINNER! Once a pencil draws him, there’s no telling what will come next — a dog, a cat, a chase (of course), and a paintbrush to color in an ever-expanding group of family and friends. But it’s not long before the complaints begin — “This hat looks silly!” “My ears are too big!” — until the poor pencil has no choice but to draw . . . an eraser. Oh no! In the hands of Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman, can anything but havoc and hilarity ensue?
On a Magical Do-Nothing Day
Published: September 12, 2017
All I want to do on a rainy day like today is play my game. My mom says it’s a waste of time, but without my game, nothing is fun! On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong about that…
There they are: 31 of the best picture books about creativity! Which of these books have you read and loved? What did I miss?