The most recommended watercolor painting books

Who picked these books? Meet our 39 experts.

39 authors created a book list connected to watercolor painting, and here are their favorite watercolor painting books.
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Book cover of The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Diane Stanley Author Of Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer

From my list on picture book biographies.

Who am I?

I have always loved history—not so much the politics, the kings and wars and battles, but the remarkable, often eccentric people who stood out in the age in which they lived. When I started writing books for children, I fell naturally into writing biographies. Each book I’ve written has been an adventure, with research that took me into vanished worlds and introduced me to remarkable people, from Shakespeare and Joan of Arc to Peter the Great, Michelangelo, Cleopatra, and Leonardo da Vinci. I got to read their letters, learn little personal details about their lives, and live vicariously in their worlds. It’s been my life’s joyful work, and I appreciate the brilliant work of other authors who write biography too.

Diane's book list on picture book biographies

Diane Stanley Why did Diane love this book?

Let me start by saying that Peter Sís is a genius and his books are like no one else’s. This story about Antoine Saint-Exupéry, the author of the beloved classic, The Little Prince, is original in every possible way. Maps and mountains are transformed into creatures smiling at each other. In a scene describing the German invasion of France in 1940, his careful tiny crosshatching gives way to loose watercolor, red paint that spreads across the page like fire or blood. At the end, where Saint-Exupéry dreams of the Little Prince, is a stunning double-page spread with no words, just an expanse of blue with prince-like golden stars on the far horizon. The book is sheer perfection.

By Peter Sis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pilot and the Little Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Peter Sís's remarkable biography The Pilot and the Little Prince celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot―and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He…

Book cover of Professional Crocodile

Eugenia Yoh & Vivienne Chang Author Of This Is Not My Home

From my list on making you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Who am I?

We’re picture book lovers and best friends that met in college at Washington University in St. Louis. Our friendship started out with long telephone conversations during the pandemic, and have now blossomed into a picture book partnership where we hope to write books that make people feel warm and fuzzy through the universality of the human experience. Vivienne is still currently a student at WashU, but will move to New York post-graduation. Eugenia has since graduated and is currently a designer in the children’s department at Chronicle Books in the Bay Area.

Vivienne's book list on making you feel warm and fuzzy inside

Eugenia Yoh & Vivienne Chang Why did Vivienne love this book?

This heartwarming watercolored picture book follows a crocodile as he sets off into the great metropolis for his morning commute. With no words at all, this book expertly shows the bustling, dynamic city life with both human and animal inhabitants. Each page is compositionally unique, and it is a masterclass in pacing and paneling. Despite the urban landscapes, the illustrations are rendered in a way that feels like a breath of fresh air. And best of all, the last page will make you want to revisit the entire book from beginning to end.

By Giovanna Zoboli, Mariachiara Di Giorgio (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Professional Crocodile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Mr. Crocodile loves his job. Every morning he gets up with an alarm. He brushes his teeth. He chooses the right tie to match his outfit, eats a quick slice of toast, and heads off to work on a crowded train. But what is his job? The answer may surprise you. Readers will want to pore over this witty, wordless book again and again, finding new details and new stories with every reading.

Book cover of Orville: A Dog Story

Nancy Furstinger Author Of The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-To-Royalty Puppy Love Story

From my list on rescued dogs.

Who am I?

I’ve been speaking up for animals since I learned to talk, and I haven’t shut up yet. My goal in writing books is to enlighten and inspire young readers to have compassion for all creatures great and small while making sure that my own empathy shines through on every page. Kids are thrilled when I bring along my rescued pets—dogs, rabbits, and a chinchilla—to book events, where I spread the “adopt, don’t shop” mantra. After volunteering at animal rescues for 30+ years, I’m excited to see so many pets getting a second chance!

Nancy's book list on rescued dogs

Nancy Furstinger Why did Nancy love this book?

In a story as mournful as a country song, a homeless big black dog resolves to lie down and never get up again. But he does find happiness, although it takes several tries. Themes of disappointment, loneliness, sorrow, yearning, and love are interwoven in the poetic text. As a bonus, Orville gleans people’s dearest wishes just by sniffing them. Watercolor and ink illustrations illuminate this poignant and powerful bond between a dog and his person.

By Haven Kimmel, Robert Andrew Parker (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A big, ugly dog is happy to meet a farmer and his wife who decide to give him a name and a home, but not so happy when they chain him to the barn. All Orville can do is bark to tell the world how unhappy he is, and the more he barks, the more he is left alone. But everything changes when Sally MacIntosh moves into the little house across the road and Orville falls in love.
A beautifully crafted text that blends wry humor with the poignant twang of a country-and-western song is accompanied by dreamy, spare watercolor-and-ink…

Book cover of Forest Has a Song: Poems

Matt Forrest Esenwine Author Of Flashlight Night

From my list on children’s poetry collections about nature.

Who am I?

Ever since my parents gave me a copy of Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems, I have enjoyed a lifelong love of poetry. Now, as a traditionally-published children’s author, I have had numerous books and poems published over the years, including books that began as poems, like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) and Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021). My poems can be found in various anthologies including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children's Books, 2015).

Matt's book list on children’s poetry collections about nature

Matt Forrest Esenwine Why did Matt love this book?

Amy has a way of making every poem feel personal, not just in the way the reader connects with the words, but in the way the subjects are presented. The poems are intimate, friendly, surprising, and comforting, whether they are written from a third-person perspective or from the point of view of the animals themselves. Beautiful to read, and beautiful to look at, readers will never look at the forest the same way again.

By Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, Robbin Gourley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forest Has a Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

A spider is a “never-tangling dangling spinner / knitting angles, trapping dinner.” A tree frog proposes, “Marry me. Please marry me… / Pick me now. / Make me your choice. / I’m one great frog / with one strong voice.” VanDerwater lets the denizens of the forest speak for themselves in twenty-six lighthearted, easy-to-read poems. As she observes, “Silence in Forest / never lasts long. / Melody / is everywhere / mixing in / with piney air. / Forest has a song.” The graceful, appealing watercolor illustrations perfectly suit these charming poems that invite young readers into the woodland world…

Book cover of Winter Story

Howard McWilliam Author Of Just SNOW Already!

From my list on illustrated stories packed full of snow.

Who am I?

I’ve loved snow for as long as I can remember: a childhood enthusiasm which has not dimmed one bit in adulthood. When those flakes flutter silently from the sky I feel a thrill just like an eight-year-old getting the day off school, a feeling that I try to convey in Just Snow Already! I adore snow scenes depicted in art and children’s illustrations when that magic is transferred to the page… and unlike the real thing, you can enjoy it with a hot drink and warm toes. 

Howard's book list on illustrated stories packed full of snow

Howard McWilliam Why did Howard love this book?

Growing up, I was enchanted by Jill Barklem’s detailed watercolour illustrations of this miniature world of mice. The cosy, fire-lit interiors—crammed with furniture, food and flora—are so intricately drawn as to give you the feeling you could walk through them.

Barklem also makes liberal use of one of my favourite devices for visual exploration: the cutaway. It’s used to excellent effect here as the mice carve out even more real estate under the snow, namely an Ice Hall for their winter ball.

These illustrations instilled in me a love of detailed artwork, and faithful rendering of a three-dimensional environment, that persists to this day in my own style.

By Jill Barklem,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the miniature world of the mice of Brambly Hedge!

It was the middle of winter and very, very cold. The mice of Brambly Hedge forecasted snow.

And they were right. In the morning they awoke to find their doors and windows hidden behind deep drifts. There hadn't been snow like this for years. "There's enough for a Snow Ball!" cried the mice with glee, and set to work in the time-honoured way to make an Ice Hall for the festivities. The little mice watched wide-eyed as all the preparations were made.

Then at last everything…

Book cover of My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown

Elena Mutonono Author Of Grounded Growth: Sustainable and Profitable Online Teaching Business On Your Own Terms

From my list on online language teachers building their own businesses.

Who am I?

The start of my own online teaching business in 2010 felt both liberating and frustrating. I enjoyed working for myself but struggled to make my offers unique, attractive, sustainable, and successful. I had no idea how to make my voice heard in the highly-saturated and fast-growing online teaching industry. Following the advice of famous online business gurus, I lost track of what I wanted my business to accomplish and burned out following every online teaching trend there was. The books I’ve selected helped me align with my own vision and values, inspired me to overcome my limitations and succeed on my own terms.

Elena's book list on online language teachers building their own businesses

Elena Mutonono Why did Elena love this book?

One of the challenges of running an online teaching business is starting on the path of the unknown. I’ve had to face many fears on my journey, some of them are so well-masked that it took years to understand what they are. These fears have held me back. That’s why I appreciate reading Meera’s reflections on fear, how to befriend it and see it as an indication for growth. Beautifully written and illustrated, this book is a delight to hold in your hands, and I believe its message will gently guide you towards a life of overcoming your fears so you can journey into a new land of entrepreneurship with more curiosity and confidence.

By Meera Lee Patel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Start Where You Are comes a vibrantly inspiring look at making peace with fear--to become our truest selves

On the heels of her bestselling journal Start Where You Are, author and illustrator Meera Lee Patel takes us deeper into her artistic vision and emotional journey in this stunning new four-color book. A mix of personal reflections, inspirational quotes, questions for reflection, and breathtaking watercolor visuals, My Friend Fear asserts that having big fear is an opportunity to make big changes, to discover the remarkable potential inside ourselves.

Book cover of The Ugly Duckling

Mina Javaherbin Author Of My Grandma and Me

From my list on the magical power of our shared humanity.

Who am I?

Growing up in Iran, I never thought I would one day become an author in a language other than my mother tongue, and live clear across the world from my birthplace. An eclectic assortment of literature, representing core human themes of thinking, love, laughter, and science are subjects that help me bond with my fellow humans. Books have constantly reassured me of our similarities and encouraged me to make connections. The magical threads of our shared humanity are tools which help us thrive in our global village. They remind us we are more similar to one another than we may think.

Mina's book list on the magical power of our shared humanity

Mina Javaherbin Why did Mina love this book?

Growing up and finding our ways in the world is a lifelong process of trials and errors. There are moments of despair and joy. Hopes can be crushed. New Dreams are born. This beloved story is one that I still think about when I see how I’m judged by all sorts as I simply mind my own life and try to find my way. In the hands of the great storyteller, Hans Christian Anderson, the metaphor of an ugly duckling becoming a gorgeous swan, tells us how overcoming our adversities will indeed help us become a beauty. Thank you Hans!

By Hans Christian Andersen, Bernadette Watts (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Hans Christian Andersen story about staying true to oneself, illustrated by the legendary European artist Bernadette Watts. 

The ugly duckling, outcast and misunderstood by the other animals, goes on a journey to discover a place where he will fit in… only to become triumphant when he emerges as the most beautiful swan of all, always destined to stand out. Bernadette Watts's detailed illustrations chronicle the bittersweet story with charm and poignancy.

Book cover of Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Carole Boston Weatherford Author Of Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on children’s books to fuel big dreams.

Who am I?

Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, has over 60 books, including the Newbery Honor winner, BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, and three Caldecott Honor winners: Freedom in Congo Square, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Recent titles include Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe, R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul, and The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop. A two-time NAACP Image Award winner, she teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

Carole's book list on children’s books to fuel big dreams

Carole Boston Weatherford Why did Carole love this book?

The Reverend Martin Luther King is best known for his rousing “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington. This biography shows how his religious upbringing in the segregated South honed the faith and fortitude to lead the Civil Rights Movement.

By Doreen Rappaport, Bryan Collier (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Martin's Big Words as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier's stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures. A timeline and a lsit of additional books and web sites help make this a standout biography…

Book cover of Seashells: More Than a Home

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Author Of Weeds Find a Way

From my list on to get kids outside and exploring nature.

Who am I?

I’ve been getting kids out into nature as an environmental education professional for over 30 years, in the garden, in the mountains, at the seashore, and in nearby nature. My life’s work, whether I am writing or teaching, is to help people experience the wonder of the natural world. I believe that children and adults need access to nature to grow and thrive, to find peace in a busy world, and to connect with each other. I know that, just like weeds, we can find a way to navigate the challenges in our lives when we connect with nature’s sustaining goodness wherever we find it.

Cindy's book list on to get kids outside and exploring nature

Cindy Jenson-Elliott Why did Cindy love this book?

The seashore is a place to explore nature close to home for many children on coasts around the world, and seashells are a place to start that exploration, even for children who are land bound. This book uses lyrical and expository language to explore the ways creatures create and use shells, as well as the structure and function of shells. Use this book to begin an exploration of the ocean and seashore ecosystems.

By Melissa Stewart, Sarah S. Brannen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning nonfiction author Melissa Stewart reveals the surprising ways seashells provide more than shelter to the mollusks that inhabit them.

Young naturalists discover thirteen seashells in this elegant introduction to the remarkable versatility of shells. Dual-layered text highlights how shells provide more than a protective home in this expository nonfiction exploration. The informative secondary text underscores characteristics specific to each shell. Elegant watercolor illustrations create a scrapbook feel, depicting children from around the world observing and sketching seashells across shores.

Book cover of The Secret World of Walter Anderson

Lori Mortensen Author Of Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey

From my list on children’s books about people who made a difference.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning children’s author of more than 100 books, including many biographies. I first fell in love with biographies when I was a child and read about young blind and deaf Helen Keller. Blind and deaf? I couldn’t imagine. Yet, page by page, as I stepped into little Helen’s world, I felt as if I experienced her struggles, triumphs, and tragedies right along with her. I discovered that in spite of her great challenges, she succeeded. That’s why I love biographies and why I write them. I hope my biographies open a door into someone else’s world that can remind readers that they can succeed too, in spite of obstacles in front of them. I try to write the sort of picture books I love—funny, whimsical, captivating, and unforgettable.

Lori's book list on children’s books about people who made a difference

Lori Mortensen Why did Lori love this book?

The Secret World of Walter Anderson is one of my favorite picture book biographies. From the first lyrical lines, Bass draws the reader into another time and place where a solitary Mississippi artist climbs into his leaky skiff and sails off to an uninhabited island to paint the world around him. The watercolor illustrations are so wonderful, the reader will hear the crash of the waves, feel the warm sun on their shoulders, and breathe in the salty air right along with the illusive artist. It’s a brilliant story about a man who “may be the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.”

By Hester Bass, E.B. Lewis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret World of Walter Anderson as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Enter the fascinating world of reclusive nature-lover Walter Anderson -- perhaps the most famous American artist you've never heard of.

Residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought Walter Anderson was odd, rowing across twelve miles of open water in a leaky skiff to reach Horn, an uninhabited island without running water or electricity. But this solitary artist didn't much care what they thought as he spent weeks at a time on his personal paradise, sleeping under his boat, sometimes eating whatever washed ashore, sketching and painting the natural surroundings and the animals that became his friends. Here Walter created some…