Looking for picture books for children aged 4 – 9?
Lots of great books are listed on this page:
Books for Babysitters
Find ways of categorizing picture books:
Picture Book Patterns
Find examples of stylistic devices:
Picture Books for Writers
Find examples of artistic techniques:
Picture Books for Artists
Find even more recommended picture books right here!
Gigot, Jami. Starboy: Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of David Bowie. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2021.
A young boy, misunderstood and lonely, learns to listen to the music in his mind and dance with exuberant joy. A thought-provoking picture book that will encourage self-expression in readers six to eleven years old. Includes an afterword with facts about the life of David Bowie.
Luyken, Corinna. My Heart. New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019.
A simple story that contains a profound truth: we can listen to our hearts and open ourselves to love even if we’ve been hurt. Recommended for children four to eight years old.
Woodson, Jacqueline. The Year We Learned to Fly. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022.
What do you do in spring when it’s raining outside and you have to stay inside? What do you do in summer when you have to do chores and can’t stop quarrelling with your brother? What do you in autumn when it’s dark outside and you’re stuck inside? What do you do in winter when you move somewhere new and you don’t know anyone at all? Well, use your imagination, of course! Lift up your arms, close your eyes, and let your mind fly! This joyous and inspiring picture book – illustrated by Rafael López – is highly recommended for readers of all ages.
P.S. Any book published by Nancy Paulsen Books is worth picking up. Sometimes you might not be ready for a particular story, but the quality of the writing will always be superb.
Lo, Richard. After the Snowfall. Guilford, Connecticut: Muddy Boots, 2021.
A fox, eyes and ears alert, quietly walks through a snowy forest. He passes the squirrels and mice, the ducks and river otters, the rabbits and crows, and a moose before returning to his family waiting in their den. An absolutely gorgeous picture book, beautifully designed with only a few words – in a gracefully simple font – on each page. Most highly recommended for young readers and artists of all ages.
Thornhill, Jan. I am Josephine: (and I am a living thing). Toronto: Owlkids Books Inc., 2016.
A young girl joyfully explains how she is a living thing, an animal, a mammal, a human being, and simply herself. Along the way, readers are invited to identify various animals cheerfully illustrated by Jacqui Lee. At the end, they are invited to think about themselves and what makes them unique. An afterword, listing features of the various categories, will encourage further conversation. Highly recommended for children 4 to 7 years old. (But the afterword is useful for older readers, too, so this picture book would make an appealing and informative introduction in a middle-school biology class.)
Schmidt, Gary D. Almost Time. Boston : Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.
A lovely picture book about a little boy waiting for the weather to get cold enough to tap the maple trees for syrup. Full-page illustrations by the award winning illustrator G. Brian Karas accompany a simple story told by an award-winning author and his late wife, Elizabeth Stickney. Highly recommended for readers 5 to 8 years old who have experienced the frustrations of waiting.
Metzger, Cécile. The Invisible Bear. Toronto: Tundra, 2020.
Alone. Unseen. Invisible. A quiet solitary existence. That is Bear’s life until Madame Odette moves next door. Suddenly, there is colour and sound and – slowly – friendship. This softly illustrated picture book – originally published in French – will speak to readers of all ages, especially this year. Who are the people who have brightened our lives during Covid-19 lockdowns, during days and months of isolation? What friendships have changed our lives?
Levine, Arthur A. What a Beautiful Morning! Philadelphia, PA: Running Press Kids, 2016.
Life is delightful for Noah when he visits his grandparents. Every day starts with a song and leads to all sorts of adventures. But all that changes when one summer day Grandpa can’t remember how to cut his cinnamon French toast. A touching story of love for readers who are facing the consequences of dementia in their own families. Highly recommended for all ages.
Carle, Eric. Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar. New York: World of Eric Carle, 2019.
Feeling jumpy? Jittery? Restless? Calm – small and beautifully illustrated – provides suggestions. Recommended for listeners 3 to 12 years old.
McCully, Emily Arnold. Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone…While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016.
If Emily McCully writes and illustrates a book, pick it up. Everything she creates is good. And this almost-true biography is no exception. Clara – an orphaned rhinoceros – was adopted by a sea captain in 1741. The two of them travelled through Europe for 17 years, amazing audiences and becoming fast friends. While now we would never dream of exhibiting an animal in such a manner, this story of affectionate friendship between a person and an animal is nonetheless intriguingly heart-warming. Included is a map of Clara’s journeys and an author’s note with further information. Highly recommended for curious readers of all ages.
Jeffers, Oliver. Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. London: HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2017.
What do we need to remember living on this planet in space? Jeffers eloquently explains in this gently profound picture book written for his newborn son. The world is wonderfully complex. And life passes quickly. So be good to the people around you and take care of the earth.
Full-page illustrations in Jeffers’ uniquely whimsical style and a friendly yet formal font help create a picture book that will appeal to readers and listeners of all ages.
P.S. Teachers: read this aloud to start a discussion or inspire thoughtful writing.
Cuevas, Michelle. Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.
Smoot’s tiresome life of being a shadow ends when he decides to leave his boy and strike out on his own. Running, dancing, singing, he embraces all the excitement of his new life. Other shadows watch him and bravely follow suit. What will happen? Smoot looks around and has an idea. Maybe all of them – all of the shadows – could go back where they came from and still live with excitement. Will it work? Can life hold joy even in ordinary circumstances? This marvellously designed picture book – illustrated by Canadian Sydney Smith – will appeal to readers of all ages of appreciate fables.
Little, Jean. Harry’s Hiccups. Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 2018.
Harry has the hiccups. What can he do to get rid them? Swallow sugar? Breathe into a paper bag? Hold his breath? The quietly amusing picture book – illustrated by Joe Weissmann – will appeal to readers 5 to 8 years of age.
(Note: The writing doesn’t flow flawlessly – there are too many details that would have been better told by the illustrations and too many slightly awkward sentences. Nevertheless, readers who fondly remember reading ‘From Anna’ and other novels by Jean Little will appreciate the gentle tone of this story. And parents looking for a book about hiccups will enjoy sharing this picture book with their children.)
Lukoff, Kyle. A Storytelling of Ravens. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2018.
A “nuisance of cats.” A “tower of giraffes.” A “parliament of owls.” Collective nouns come alive in this cheerful picture book illustrated by Natalie Nelson.
Kraulis, Julie. A Pattern for Pepper. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2017.
Pepper is getting a new dress to wear to her grandmother’s birthday celebration. What pattern should she choose for the fabric? Herringbone? Seersucker, tartan, or houndstooth? Ikat, argyle, pinstripe, or dotted swiss? Toile? Paisley? The history of each textile becomes part of the story in this delightfully elegant picture book for readers 5 years old and up.
Hoban, Russell and Quentin Blake. Rosie’s Magic Horse. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2012.
What a silly story! A little girl dreams of a horse – Stickerino – that helps her find a treasure chest full of gold, which she presents to her parents the next morning.
What a brilliant story! The worries of bill-paying parents, after all, do affect their children. This not-unusual family situation is depicted with insight and sensitivity.
What a beautiful story! The lively illustrations and flowing text seem to be dashed off in a flash. But, of course, only brilliant creators such as Hoban and Blake can make it look and sound so easy.
Highly recommended for almost anyone who likes to laugh and loves language.
For analytical readers: note how sentences do not end with ‘said’ but rather with a character’s name: e.g. not “Rosie said.” but rather “…said Rosie.”Stories flow better visually when the final word of a sentence has that kind of weight.
Colfer, Eoin. Imaginary Fred. New York: Harper, 2015.
Loneliness is awful. An imaginary friend might help. But what if a real friend come along? What will happen to the imaginary friend? How will he feel?
This delightful picture book by an absolutely brilliant team – Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – is pure joy. The fanciful story and whimsical illustrations will bring laughter to readers of all ages. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
McDonnell, Patrick. Shine! New York: Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
“I wish I were…” Somewhere else. Someone else. Something else. Little Hoshi wishes and wishes she were not a humble little sea star in the ocean. Until she learns, of course, that happiness is to be found right where we are and possibilities always surround us. This delightful picture book – illustrated by Naoko Stoop – is another heart-warming and inspiring story by the creator of the Mutts comic strips. Highly recommended as a read-aloud – for listeners 4 years old and up – and for anyone who needs a humorous reminder that we all can shine.
FFreedman, Deborah. This House, Once. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017.
Before your house was a house, what was it? Trees. Rocks. Mud. Sand. This elegantly illustrated picture book will intrigue readers and listeners 5 years old and up.
(If you like to analyze books, notice how the colour and style of the font complement the colour and size of the illustrations, creating a reflective tone that matches the mood of the story.)
Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl Go Exploring. Toronto: Groundwood/House of Anansi Press, 2016.
Buddy, a dog, and Earl, a hedgehog, continue the adventures they started in Buddy and Earl. These joyful picture books provide unique perspectives on everyday life and will delight both the adults who read them aloud and the children who listen.
Zagarenski, Pamela. Henry & Leo. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
What makes us real? Lovers of The Velveteen Rabbit will appreciate this gentle story about Henry and his toy lion. Written and illustrated by a two-time Caldecott Honor winner, this picture book is a wonderful read-aloud for young children and a conversation starter for older readers.
We are All Born Free : the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2008.
“Presents a simplified version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each of the 30 articles is depicted by an internationally renowned artist. Includes portraits and brief biographies of artists. All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to the organization.” – CIP. Includes an introduction by author John Boyne and actor David Tennant. Highly recommended for all ages.
Delaunois, Angèle. Magic Little Words. Toronto: Owlkids Books, 2015.
A gentle story that teaches simple words that build relationships: good morning; welcome; I’m sorry; I love you; rest in peace; bon voyage; bravo; please; thank you; good bye; and good night. Translated from the French and illustrated with collages by Manon Gauthier. Useful as an introduction to a unit on manners for elementary and middle school readers.
Dylan, Bob. If Not for You. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.
“An interpretation of the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s 1970 song, ‘If Not For You,’ reimagined to portray the love between parent and child”– Provided by publisher.
Martin Jr., Bill and Michael Sampson. Listen to Our World. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016.
“Youngsters awaken in the morning with the belief that they are the greatest little ones in the world, whether they are children in their mothers’ arms, eagles soaring above mountains, whales swimming in the ocean, or other animals in their domains.” – CIP. Illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet. A wonderful read-aloud for teaching the use of powerful language!
Smith, Lane. There is a Tribe of Kids. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016.
A young boy goes on an adventure, meeting all sorts of animals in this picture book for readers up to nine years of age. A great read-aloud for teaching collective nouns!
Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2015.
Charlotte and Wilbur.
Frog and Toad.
George and Martha.
Snake and Lizard.
Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.
And now there are Buddy and Earl: a dog and a hedgehog.
(Warning: the style and size of the font unfortunately do not enhance the humour of this story. But the evocative illustrations by Sookocheff and the endearing quality of the story make this a recommended picture book for children up to 8 years of age.)
Browne, Anthony. What If…? Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2014, c2013.
A little boy worries that he will not enjoy the party to which he’s been invited. Another vividly illustrated picture book by a master storyteller who specializes in showing life from various points of view. Highly recommended for young readers.
Baker, Jeannie. Circle. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2016.
Another outstanding picture book by an accomplished artist and storyteller. Recommended for readers eight-years-old and up. “Each year, bar-tailed godwits undertake the longest unbroken migration of any bird, flying from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to Australia and New Zealand and back again. They follow invisible pathways–pathways that have been followed for thousands of years–while braving hunger and treacherous conditions to reach their destination. In Circle, Jeannie Baker follows the godwit’s incredible flight, taking us over awe-inspiring scenes as the birds spread their wings above such beautiful landmarks as the Great Barrier Reef and China’s breathtaking cityscapes.” – CIP.
Rex, Adam. School’s First Day of School. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016.
A humorous story about a building that is nervous about it’s first day of school. Excellent as a read-aloud for kindergarten children, of course, but also for students starting grades one to three. It could also be used for teaching point of view and creative writing with older students.
Barnett, Mac. Rules of the House. Los Angeles: Disney/Hyperion, 2016.
“Ian always follows the rules and his sister, Jenny, never does but when she angers some monsters while breaking all the rules of their vacation house in the woods, Ian first runs away, then realizes there should be a rule about protecting your sister from being eaten by monsters.” – CIP. A humorous story with a philosophical slant for readers of all ages.
Steig, William. The Toy Brother. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016, c1996.
“An apprentice alchemist finds that his despised little brother is the only one who can help him when he concocts a potion which makes him the size of a peanut.” – CIP. A funny story by an accomplished storyteller and illustrator.
Borden, Louise. Good Luck, Mrs. K! New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1999.
Ann and her classmates love their third grade teacher. So they all miss her when she becomes ill with cancer. What can they do to let her know they have not forgotten her? And when she will return to them? A heart-warming book based on a true story for grades 2 to 4.
Cantrell, Charlie. A Friend for Einstein: The Smallest Stallion. Disney/Hyperion Books, 2011.
Full-page photographs illustrate this nonfiction picture book about a tiny miniature horse. Perfect for horse lovers.
Foreman, Michael. A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2009.
Living in ruin and rubble with a wire fence and soldiers separating him from the cool hills where his father used to take him as a small child, a boy’s tiny, green plant shoot gives him hope in a bleak landscape. – CIP [Gardens; Hope; Poverty; War]
Polacco, Patricia. Bun Bun Button. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011.
If you’ve enjoyed The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, don’t miss this endearing story about a little girl who loves cuddling with her grandmother in the Old Blue Chair and playing with her stuffed rabbit who is lost and then found again.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Scholastic, 2002) is a story about a young boy named Max who goes into his dreams. One night, Max is terrorizing his house and gets sent to his room before dinner so he doesn`t even get to eat. Soon after, he lies down in his bed and drifts off to sleep and awakens in his dreams. When he awakes, he is on a boat but quickly finds land. When he gets ashore, he is greeted by many huge looking beasts. He does not know that they are just as afraid of him as he is of them. Max becomes their leader and they spend the rest of the day playing games and just having fun. Overall, I think this book would be good for you if you are looking for a good laugh (Ryan H.)
Solheim, James. Born Yesterday. Philomel Books, 2010.
If you’ve read Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats or Bye-bye Baby! by Richard Morris, you know stories about older siblings who aren’t too pleased about the arrival of new babies. But this picture book tells the story from the perspective of the younger sibling. Full of fun, this imaginative journal would be a great gift for young families, perfect as a read-aloud for primary school children and useful for teaching writing in intermediate grades. (Ms. Rosen)
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss is a book about two kids who go by the names of Sam and Sally. On a boring rainy day, the two children are trapped inside with nothing to do. They are just sitting by the window watching the rain fall to the ground, trapping them from all the fun possibilities, so they think. All of a sudden, the Cat in the Hat flares through the door. He tries to play some fun games with them. At first the kids aren’t too enthusiastic, so the Cat in the Hat throws a curveball and brings out Things one and two. The kids start to have fun until they remember their mother is going to be home soon and they have to clean up fast. I really enjoyed this book, even though it isn’t suitable for the grade eight reading level. Nevertheless, just for fun, I thought I’d go back to old times and review this book that rhymes!. (Tyler in grade eight)
Best Kid In The World by Peter H. Reynolds is a funny picture book. It teaches kids a lesson. Just because your the youngest does not mean you don’t have to work to get an award. Just because someone has something you don’t doesn’t mean you have to complain about it. But in the end, somehow you work for what you want and get it. Yes you may get in trouble for some mistakes but you can still keep going and try try try! So in conclusion, this book is a good example for any age! (Brooke)
Rubbino, Salvatore. A Walk in London. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2011.
This marvellous picture book, full of historical facts, features many of the famous sites of one of the greatest cities on earth. Wonderful entertainment for adventuresome readers eight to eighty years old. [London; England]
One of my favourite books is Green Eggs and Ham. Firstly, it is one of my favourites because it is a classic. Secondly, it has to do with eggs and ham; I like food. Lastly, I like Sam, Sam I Am. In conclusion, Green Eggs and Ham is one of my favourite books. (Quinton)
One of my favourite books is If I Ran the Zoo. First of all, it was written by Dr. Seuss. Secondly, it’s about a boy who imagines what he would do he ran the zoo and I do the same things: I imagine all sorts of things. Thirdly, I like the pictures of the made-up animals . If I Ran the Zoo is my favourite book. (Devon)
Tillman, Nancy. On the Night You Were Born. Feiwel and Friends, 2006.
A lovely picture book for young parents or preschoolers, this poetic story celebrates the importance of each person who is born on this earth. It could be compared to You Were Loved Before You Were Born by Eve Bunting. [Babies — Fiction; Love — Fiction]
Whelan, Gloria. Waiting for the Owl’s Call. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2009.
Eight-year-old Zulviya belongs to a family of rug weavers. As she spends her days tying thousands of knots, she imagines the colours of the landscape around her, the sights and sounds of her country of Afghanistan. Suitable for children 7 years old and up, this story would also be useful in writing classes, due to all the five senses details, and in Social Studies classes. [Afghanistan; Child labour; Rugs; Imagination; Turkmenistan; Girls; Sex role; Style, Literary – Study and teaching]
Wood, Douglas. Nothing to Do. Dutton Children’s Books, 2006.
Full of softly coloured, finely detailed illustrations, this picture book is a great read-aloud and discussion starter for students in grades three and up. Reminiscent of William Davies’ poem, Leisure, it celebrates the joys of relaxing. [Imagination; Play; Adventure and adventurers]
“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night….” (Ms. Rosen)
Ehrhardt, Karen. This Jazz Man. Harcourt, 2006.
Following the pattern of the song, “This Old Man”, this picture book introduces nine jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, with short summaries of each provided at the end of the story. [Musicians; Jazz; African Americans; Stories in rhyme] (Ms. Rosen)
McGhee, Alison. Always. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009.
An elegantly simple story about faithful love, the story will be enjoyed by dog lovers everywhere. (Dogs; Loyalty; Imagination; Friendship) (Ms. Rosen)
Dubuc, Marianne. In Front of My House. Kids Can Press, 2010.
A circular story, reminiscent of If You Give Mouse a Cookie, this cheerfully suspenseful picture book is wonderful for reading aloud to a primary class or reading aloud together with students in grades three and four. Everyone will make predictions and laugh as the pages are turned to reveal the next surprise. (Ms. Rosen)
Yates, Louise. Dog Loves Books. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
Another joyous picture book celebrating the joys of reading. (Dogs; Bookstores; Imagination; Reading) (Ms. Rosen)
Polacco, Patricia. Emma Kate. Philomel Books, 2005.
Dedicated to Dr. Seuss and Horton, this charming picture book tells the story of Emma Kate and her best friend, an elephant, who do everything together. A great read-aloud for kindergarten to grade four, this book would also be useful for teaching how to draw texture with a pencil and for teaching creative writing. (Imagination; Elephants; Friendship) (Ms. Rosen)
Sierra, Judy. Born to Read. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
Sam’s love of reading saves the day when a baby giant comes stomping through the town in this humorous rhyming story that refers to various picture books classics. A great read-aloud for kindergarten to grade three, it would also be a wonderful gift for any elementary school teacher. (Books and reading; Humorous stories; Monsters; Stories in rhyme) (Ms. Rosen)
Bottner, Barbara. Wallace’s Lists. Katherine Tegen Books, 2004.
Wallace, the mouse, learns to enjoy spontenanity and adventures when he becomes friends with his neighbour, Albert, in this picture book for grades one to three. It could be compared to Courage by Bernard Waber. (Humorous stories, Mice; Adventure and adventurers; Friendship; Courage) (Ms. Rosen)
Clements, Andrew. The Handiest Things in the World. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.
Written by a well-known author and illustrated with full-page photographs, this concept book about hands would be a wonderful addition to any primary school collection. (Ms. Rosen)
Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion & the Mouse. Little, Brown & Co., 2009.
A wordless retelling of the classic story with gently painted illustrations filled with tiny details. The use of colour could be compared to the picture books of Brian Wildsmith. (Ms. Rosen)