The best picture books that capture children’s imaginations

Charline Davis Author Of Alou: The Martian Agent
By Charline Davis

Who am I?

I came into the world telling stories. From the age of four you could often find me surrounded by a little cluster of friends, amusing them with a story I was spinning on the spot. When I was nine, I began telling my sisters about a Martian who was living on Earth and who loved his comfy chairs. This Martian eventually became Alou, and it has been such a joy to share his world through my picture book Alou: The Martian Agent and its sequels. One thing I’m passionate about is sparking the potent imagination bottled up inside all our little ones and I hope my books can encourage that. 

I wrote...

Alou: The Martian Agent

By Charline Davis,

Book cover of Alou: The Martian Agent

What is my book about?

Alou is a Martian agent sent to earth. He loves learning about his new home and meeting the people who live there. Explore earth with him for the first time as this lovable Martian takes you around the globe! 

This book encourages children’s natural inquisitive curiosity!

This book is available directly from the author on their website.

The books I picked & why

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Frog and Toad Together

By Arnold Lobel,

Book cover of Frog and Toad Together

Why this book?

There is something so charming about these two best friends. I remember pouring over their quirky tales as a small child. I loved it so much! Arnold Lobel’s masterpiece is perfectly woven with immersive watercolor pictures and hilarious, yet simple text, that even our littlest readers can grasp. It introduces the concept of personality vividly in the differences between Frog and Toad, and all in all, is one of the best ever for capturing a young imagination.

The Wild Baby Goes to Sea

By Barbro Lindgren, Eva Eriksson (illustrator),

Book cover of The Wild Baby Goes to Sea

Why this book?

Make-believe was one of my favorite pastimes as a little girl. When I wasn’t writing a story, chances were, I was off with a sister in a world of imagination. And when I was there, it was as if my fancy was reality. I think that’s why I identify with this charming picture book so much. The main character’s potent imagination pulls his surroundings into his play reality. But the ending leaves us to ponder, along with Baby Ben’s mama…can his imagination conjure things into the tangible world? This translation from the original Swedish expertly converted the rhymes, and the pictures add so very much to the adventure. If you have a little adventurer in your life, this is a must-read!  

The Little Hippos' Adventure

By Lena Landstrom, Joan Sandin,

Book cover of The Little Hippos' Adventure

Why this book?

I can still recall snuggling up to my mom as she read me this for the first time, and now it’s a joy I’ve gotten to relive with my daughter! This one—another Swedish translation—is a tale of three little hippos who have a passion for diving! That’s right, off a diving board! Their naughty adventures as they seek out Tall Cliff, the dangers they face, and Mrs. Hippopotamus’ carpentry, will grab children’s attention. The storytelling and humor are spot-on, and the illustrations couple with it beautifully. A very entertaining read. 

Harold and the Purple Crayon

By Crockett Johnson,

Book cover of Harold and the Purple Crayon

Why this book?

Very few books can enchant a child as much as Harold and the Purple Crayon. Full of wonder and the exploration of a world Harold creates along the way, this classic by Crockett Johnson has fascinated children since it was first published in 1955. It fascinated me so much as a child, that for fun at age six, I wrote and illustrated several of my own stories about Harold. Although I must admit, I was always a bit worried he was trapped in his purple crayon reality. Even though Harold seemed satisfied with drawing his bedroom, I was never convinced he was truly home. But regardless, our little infant hero’s adventures always ‘drew’ me in. 


By Aaron Becker,

Book cover of Journey

Why this book?

This one is a wordless, immersive escape into a magical world, a riff off Harold and the Purple Crayon, but with an entire realm within. Our heroine, suffering from loneliness, finds her way into another world with a magic red crayon. This story is one of finding joy, friendship, and magic in the everyday. The detailed pictures are enough to fascinate any thoughtful child who can pour over this enchanting story again and again. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in imagination, Sweden, and adventure?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about imagination, Sweden, and adventure.

Imagination Explore 68 books about imagination
Sweden Explore 40 books about Sweden
Adventure Explore 89 books about adventure

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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