Do you want your kids to spend less time in front of a screen and more time getting creative? Books can help them get started. Here are some of my favorite children’s books that inspire creativity.
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CHILDREN’S BOOKS THAT INSPIRE CREATIVITY
Take a look at these books to help inspire creativity. These stories will help your kids imagine, draw, build, or dream about new possibilities.
The Most Magnificent Thing
This book follows a girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look and 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.
If I Built a House
Jack is 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.
Don’t forget to check out If I Built a Car and If I Built a School, as well.
Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon
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!
Iggy Peck, Architect
Some kids sculpt sand castles, some make mud pies, and 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 mast builder can be.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Questioneers series, as well:
- Rosie Revere, Engineer
- Ada Twist, Scientist
- Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
- Aaron Slater, Illustrator (coming Nov 2021)
What Do You Do with an Idea
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.
Katie loves to build. She loves the way the blocks click together, the way they crash when they topple to the floor. But most of all, she loves to build something brand-new. Unlike her brother, she hates reading.
Owen loves to read. He loves the way the pages rustle when he turns them, the way the paper smells. But most of all, he loves to read something brand-new. But, unlike his sister, he has no interest in building.
When their rivalry finally comes to a head, a librarian suggests a solution. Books for Katie to read and books for Owen to shelve. Can they learn to appreciate their siblings hobbies and build something together?
Izzy Gizmo’s inventions are marvelous, magnificent…and often malfunction. Despite the fact that she loves to invent, it never seems to work out in her favor. But when she finds a crow with a broken wing, she has to help! Izzy tries again and again to build the crow a new pair of wings, but nothing is working. Can Izzy overcome her failures? Or is her friend destined to live as a crow who can’t fly?
If you’ve already read this one, be sure to check out Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention.
Made by Maxine
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.
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.
Olive is a little girl with a big, bright imagination. Hoot is her stuffed-animal owl…and her best friend. The two love adventures of all sorts. But on the rainiest of days, there is only one thing to do: stay inside and imagine a whole new world.
Just as they’re about to begin their adventure, Hoot makes a shocking discovery―his imagination is broken! Like the best of best friends, Olive comes up with some ideas to help him. But nothing is working: not the head unscrambler, the earmuffs, or the hypnosis. Just as the two are about to give up, Olive remembers the secret ingredient to imagination, and they give it one more try.
When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox
You asked for a special house for your dolls, but instead, Grandpa gives you a toolbox! What do you do? Launching it into outer space is a bad idea. So is feeding it to a T-rex! Instead, be patient, pay attention, and you might find that you’re pretty handy. And just maybe, with grandpa’s help, you’ll get that dollhouse after all.
Be sure to check out When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, too.
On a Magical Do Nothing Day
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…
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…
With My Hands
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.
The Creatrilogy Series
The Dot – An enchanting invitation to self-expression! Don’t worry, just make a mark — and see where it takes you.
Ish – A creative spirit learns that thinking “ishly” leads to a far more wonderful outcome than “getting it right.”
Sky Color – The sky’s no limit in this gentle, playful tale — a reminder that if we open our eyes and look beyond the expected, inspiration will come.
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.
I’m NOT Just a Scribble
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 drawings how to accept each other for who they are, which enables them to create amazing art.
Once a pencil draws a little boy, 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 this wordless book, three children discover a magical bag of chalk on a rainy day. What will they create?
When I Draw a Panda
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.
Maybe Something Beautiful
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!
Be a Maker
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.
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.
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?
What to Do With a Box
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.
Not a Box
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.
In the fort in the woods, a prince is preparing his castle for a lively feast for the royal kingdom. Unbeknownst to him, a pirate uses the same fort as her ship, planning to venture out to the open seas in search of treasure. But when a treasure map appears on the prince’s party invitations, and the pirate finds that her sword has turned into a scepter, they realize there is an intruder in the castle―no, ship! Soon, a battle over the fort between the adversaries ensues, leading to a humorous showdown. When they make amends, their amazing imaginations come up with a new adventure…together.
The Little Red Fort
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. This is a modern spin on The Little Red Hen.
Secret Tree Fort
When two sisters are ushered outside to play, one sits under a tree with a book while the other regales her with descriptions of a cool fort in a tree that grows ever more fantastical in the telling. What will it take to get the older sister to look up? The promise of a water-balloon launcher in case of attack? A trapdoor to stargaze through? A crow’s nest from which to see how many whales pass by or to watch for pirates? Or the best part of all, which can’t be revealed, because it’s a secret?
Fort Building Time
Winter, spring, summer, fall. Each season brings new materials to make the perfect fort. From leaves to snow, from mud to sand, there is a different fort throughout the year. As a group of friends explore and build through the seasons, they find that every fort they make is a perfect fort.
The Fort That Jack Built
Young Jack builds an amazing fort in the middle of the living room, using the chairs, blankets, and other objects on hand. Unfortunately, those objects belong to his family members, so when they want their things back―there goes the walls and roof! Jack struggles to keep his fortress going as it crumbles piece by piece. Finally, Grandma saves the day with her quilts for a sweet, satisfying ending filled with family fun.
Jasper and Ollie Build a Fort
Best friends Jasper, a quick and feisty fox, and Ollie, a slow and deliberate sloth, decide to build forts in the yard. While Jasper’s enormous fort goes up in minutes (complete with a rock climbing wall, bouncy, castle, and moat), it’s Ollie’s humble fort that has what the pair need most . . . a place that they can share.
Do you have a favorite book to help inspire creativity that didn’t make the list? Let me know so I can check it out.
You might also enjoy these picture books about inventions and these books about robots. Or, take a look at all of my book lists.
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