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10 Children’s Books That Inspire Imagination

Encourage your children to imagine, dream, and be creative! Imagination makes life fun and is also essential to a child’s development and successful learning.  As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.”  Encouraging your child’s imagination and imaginative play helps them to develop social skills, build self-confidence, work out their fears, enhance their critical thinking and problem solving, and increase their language skills.

You should always have read, writing, and art materials available for your child to inspire imagination (For example, reading light and maybe even ink and a fountain pen from Goldspot Pens).  Reading encourages writing, and children with vivid imaginations become confident writers.  As children grow older, you can use simple books about imagination that you read to them when they were younger as writing prompts.  Here are ten wonderful children’s stories that inspire imagination.  Read them to your child or have them read them to you and watch their own imaginations soar!

childrens books that inspire imagination

childrens books that inspire imagination

1. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

A timeless classic picture book that sparks children’s imagination and wonders.  The book starts when young Harold, armed only with his imaginary purple crayon, decides to take a moonlight walk, and so draws himself a path and a moon.  This begins a series of wonderful adventures including sailboats and dragons where he draws whatever he wants or needs at the time.  It concludes with him settling down for sleep, a perfect bedtime story!

2. The Whisperer by Pamela Zagarenski

This story is about a girl who loves to read and is excited to read a special book loaned to her by her teacher only to sadly discover that the words fell out on her way home.  She hears a voice whisper to her that imagining is perfect for this situation and she should create her own stories.  The book has fantastic illustrations that act as prompts for her to start her own stories.  Reading this book with your child will give them opportunities to create their own adventures from the pictures as well!

3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This Sendak classic book is a tale of mischief and imagination.  When Max throws a tantrum in his wolf suit, he is sent to bed without any dinner.  In his room, he imagines a forest and sails away to begin his adventure to where the wild things live.  Here he becomes king of the wild things and enjoys a wild rumpus with them before coming home to a warm supper still waiting on him.  Great illustrations and stories to capture young imaginations!  We’d like to send our love to Maurice Sendak as he is an amazing writer we will all remember for many years to come.

4. Please Bring Balloons by Lindsey Ward

Emma finds a note under a polar bear’s saddle at the carousel that asks her to bring him a balloon.  After she does, he asks for more balloons which allows Emma and the polar bear to soar off to the North Pole.  Their friendship flourishes and they have many adventures before returning safely in time for bed.  The story encourages that anything is possible and ends with Emma finding a new note with the anticipation of another adventure that you and your child can envision together!

5. Not a Box by Antionette Portis

Who doesn’t remember playing with an empty box as a child?  This is a simple book for young children where a bunny transforms a box into such things as a racecar and a rocket ship showing that normal everyday objects can become anything with a little imagination.  The book is good for teaching young children simple drawing techniques and can be used to encourage discussion on what a triangle or circle could be!

6. Ruby’s Sword by Jacqueline Vessid and illustrated by Paola Zakimi

Many children will be able to relate to this sweet story.  Ruby is constantly trying to keep up with her big brothers and being ignored.  One day, as she tries to catch up with them in the yard, she discovers simple sticks in the grass and pretends one is a sword.  From there the outdoors becomes her magical kingdom eventually enticing her brothers to want to join in the fun.  This book encourages imagination and exploration of the natural world and ideas for playing in the great outdoors!

7. Sadie by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Julie Morstad

Sadie is a story about a girl with a huge imagination that can take any mundane day and make it into an incredible adventure.  Sadie’s relationships with books fuels her imagination.  It has beautiful text with illustrations rendered in gouache, ink, and Photoshop.  The book encourages reading, make-believe play, and being yourself!

8. Beyond the Pond by Joseph Kuefler

Ernest is a very curious boy who lives in an ordinary house with a pond in the yard.  He determines that his pond must have no bottom and decides to dive in and explore it with his dog.  He discovers everything from sunken treasure, dinosaurs, and a mouse riding a miniature unicorn.  When they swim back home, his ordinary house now seems to be full of life and color.  The book encourages curiosity, bravery, determination, and exploring the world around us!

9. King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bentley and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

This is the story of Jack, Zack, and Casper as they build forts and fight beasts.  The rhyming flow is soothing to children and inspiration for den building and fighting dragons together inspiring make-believe play and imagination.  The final shadows are mom and dad putting the children to bed.  It is a great bedtime story starting in an imaginative world and ending in a parent’s embrace and love!

10. Happy Dreamer by Peter Reynolds

Happy Dreamer is a beloved children’s story that follows a boy as he is told to sit quietly by the world but dares to dream.  The book has a very cool and playful style to it.  It often goes outside the box and features our dreamer walking in abstract shapes and places.  Peter Reynolds is a famous and loved story writer who is famous for The Dot and other titles such as I Am Human and The World Collector.  Happy Dreamer is a wonderful tale that takes on a timeless theme that will leave your child feeling truly inspired.