The best children’s books to captivate the imagination with nature, whimsy, and humor

Who am I?

I was born into a large, unique family. Our house was nestled in the Colorado foothill mountains. Our small tv with the rabbit ear antenna had one fuzzy station, so we depended upon our imaginations for entertainment. We read fairy tales, performed puppet shows, fed fairies on the full moon, painted, drew, wrote stories, explored the canyon. I once observed a small pebbled cylinder inch its way across a puddle. I thought it was magic! It was a caddis fly larvae. That spark of excitement from nature, imagination, and whimsy are what inspire me today when I create. I hope these books will inspire you–or at least make you laugh.


I wrote...

I Am Goose!

By Dorothia Rohner, Vanya Nastanlieva (illustrator),

Book cover of I Am Goose!

What is my book about?

I am Goose! was inspired by the children at Head-Start. They loved playing Duck, Duck Goose, but not all of the children cared about the rules. The story starts out with a simple, friendly game of Duck, Duck, Goose. It goes off the rails in giggle-inducing confusion when a silly goose tries to make it all about him. “Are you kidding me? I am Goose!”

A literal-minded goose derails a favorite childhood game—Duck, Duck, Goose—by objecting when Pig, Fox, Dodo, and other players are tapped as “Goose”. Distraction, squabbling, and asking for snacks threaten to end the game completely. Bossy Rabbit restores calm, but Goose doesn’t understand what the problem is until he gets a taste of his own medicine.

The books I picked & why

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Music for Mister Moon

By Phillip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

Book cover of Music for Mister Moon

Why this book?

The magical tale, Music for Mister Moon, is about a little girl named Harriet, who likes to be called Hank. She loves nothing more than to play her cello, alone. When her parents suggest how wonderful it would be to play in a big orchestra someday, she retreats into her room playing her cello. When the owl hoots outside her window she loses her temper and throws a teacup. And so begins her imaginative journey that tickles the reader's imagination. On Hank’s adventure with Mr. Moon, they encounter kind and thoughtful animals with a profound understanding of acceptance and giving. Each time I read this book, I can almost hear the music of the cello float out the window, the crash of the teacup, the smell of the smoke that fills the little house. Harriet’s emotional journey comes full circle with a most satisfying ending. A must-read, over and over. The pencil drawings and monoprint illustrations are sublime, humorous, and tender.

Music for Mister Moon

By Phillip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Music for Mister Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A shy musician makes an unexpected friend in this beautiful picture book from an award-winning duo.

A Great Lakes Great Reads Award Children's Picture Book Winner

A girl named Harriet longs to play her cello alone in her room. But when a noisy owl disrupts her solitude, Harriet throws her teacup out the window in frustration, and accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky.

Over the course of an evening, Harriet and the moon become fast friends. Worried that he'll catch a chill, Harriet buys the moon a soft woolen hat, then takes him on a boat ride across…

Du Iz Tak?

By Carson Ellis,

Book cover of Du Iz Tak?

Why this book?

Du Iz Tak is probably the most creative picture book I have ever read! Ever! It is written in bug language. At first, it’s hard to understand what’s going on, but on careful study of the illustrations along with the dialogue, the story unfolds. This book is perfect for pre-readers because the story is told through the illustrations. It’s so fun to read aloud and try to figure out what the bugs are saying. My favorite sentence in the book is, "Unk scrivadelly gladdenboot!" So fun to say. You will have to get the book so you can figure out the meaning. The bright, flat colors and graphic depiction of the bug world are filled with intricate and entertaining details.

Du Iz Tak?

By Carson Ellis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Du Iz Tak? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The creator of Home explores the astonishing changes in a garden, where insects talk their own mysterious language.

In her follow-up to the internationally acclaimed Home, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in the natural world ... even the humblest back garden! With gorgeous, exquisitely-detailed illustration that will appear to children and art-lovers alike, and a wonderfully playful invented language, we soon find ourselves speaking "Bug" ... Du iz tak? What is that?


The Green Umbrella

By Jackie Azusa Kramer, Maral Sassouni (illustrator),

Book cover of The Green Umbrella

Why this book?

The cover illustrations for The Green Umbrella captivated my attention. It shows a playful elephant holding a green umbrella floating in the rain, jumping through puddles. The world that elephant lives in feels both foreign and familiar. On his rainy day walk, he encounters a hedgehog, cat, bear, rabbit, who all claim the green umbrella as their own. Each of them using it for a delightfully inventive purpose. As in all great kids' books, the message of sharing is tenderly disguised. The painted collage illustrations are textured with gorgeous details.

The Green Umbrella

By Jackie Azusa Kramer, Maral Sassouni (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Green Umbrella as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2017 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year.

Mom's Choice Award - Gold

A 2017 Parents' Choice Silver Honor

Things aren’t always what they seem in this charming tale of imagination, sharing and friendship.

When Elephant takes a peaceful walk with his green umbrella, he’s interrupted by Hedgehog, Cat, Bear, and Rabbit—all claiming that they’ve had exciting adventures with his umbrella. After all, it is an umbrella, and it certainly hasn’t been on any adventures more exciting than a walk in the rain. Or has it?

Jackie Azúa Kramer and illustrator Maral Sassouni both make their debut in…

Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book

By Britta Teckentrup,

Book cover of Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book

Why this book?

This book contains so many qualities that I adore in a children’s book. The illustrations are rich, textured landscapes filled with expressive animals and a die-cut of the moon on every spread. On each page turn, it shows the changing moon phases. The perfect rhythm, luscious word choice, and spot-on rhyme make it a pleasure to read aloud. Besides the beautiful aesthetic quality of this book, it also contains an abundance of information about animals and nature and how they relate to the moon. A gorgeous and interesting book.

Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book

By Britta Teckentrup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the much-loved children’s series that began with Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book comes an informative book with peek-through holes that show the moon’s different phases with each turn of the page.

Over deserts and forests, Arctic tundra and tropical beaches, the moon shines down on creatures around the world. Children will love discovering how it changes from day to day as the lunar cycle is shown through clever peek-through holes, each revealing the moon in a different size and shape.
 
It’s the perfect light nonfiction book for young stargazers—and an ideal bedtime book, ending with a giant moon hovering…

Art & Max

By David Wiesner,

Book cover of Art & Max

Why this book?

Art and Max is one of my favorite picture books because it contains humor, knowledge, great characters, and imagination. David Weisner is a master at capturing expression and pushing the limits of the imagination to amuse and surprise the reader. Art is a serious artist reptile, Max is an overexcited literal lizard that wants to learn to paint. He is a serious annoyance to Art. When Art finally agrees to let him paint, confusion on what to paint explodes into a mess. Each art mishap resembles famous artist styles and techniques. It’s a funny, clever, and imaginative book that both children and adults enjoy.

Art & Max

By David Wiesner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art & Max as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Max and Arthur are best friends who both want to make art. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max's first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind adventure with paints, pastels and pencils, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls.

Heavily influenced by surrealist Salvador Dali, Wiesner has crafted a fascinating story about friendship, creativity and the mysterious place where these two forces meet.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the moon, imagination, and insects?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the moon, imagination, and insects.

The Moon Explore 93 books about the moon
Imagination Explore 76 books about imagination
Insects Explore 15 books about insects

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Longest Letsgoboy, Jamberry, and There's a Wocket in My Pocket! if you like this list.