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Imagination And Play: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about imagination and play?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to imagination and play. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about imagination and play.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

We hope this list of kids books about imagination and play can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Secret Garden
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.

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The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
Written & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Winner of the 2015 Caldecott Medal This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle. New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.

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Max's Castle
Written by Kate Banks & illustrated by Boris Kulikov
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Max finds a pile of forgotten toys under the bed, his brothers Benjamin and Karl wonder what’s so special about some old blocks. So Max shows them. With some clever twists of both blocks and imagination, he constructs not only a castle but an entire adventure, complete with pirates and knights, a dark dungeon and a dragon. This ingenious sequel to Max’s Words and Max’s Dragons shows readers just how much fun wordplay can be.

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Bridge to Terabithia
Written by Katherine Paterson & illustrated by Donna Diamond
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

All summer, Jess pushed himself to be the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and when the year’s first school-yard race was run, he was going to win.But his victory was stolen by a newcomer, by a girl, one who didn’t even know enough to stay on the girls’ side of the playground. Then, unexpectedly, Jess finds himself sticking up for Leslie, for the girl who breaks rules and wins races. The friendship between the two grows as Jess guides the city girl through the pitfalls of life in their small, rural town, and Leslie draws him into the world of imaginations world of magic and ceremony called Terabithia. Here, Leslie and Jess rule supreme among the oaks and evergreens, safe from the bullies and ridicule of the mundane world. Safe until an unforeseen tragedy forces Jess to reign in Terabithia alone, and both worlds are forever changed. In this poignant, beautifully rendered novel, Katherine Paterson weaves a powerful story of friendship and courage.

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Pirate Nap: A Book of Colors
Written by Danna Smith & illustrated by Valeria Petrone
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Two brothers use their imaginations to turn their surroundings–from a white bandana and yellow coins to a red blanket and even their baby sister– into a colorful pirate adventure before naptime.

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  • Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish - A joyful picture book that celebrates every kid’s favorite day of the year, full of adorable art from the illustrator of Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site and I Wish You More. The most important rule is #1: It must be your birthday. After that’s been established, a crew of hilarious animals help picture book pros Tom Lichtenheld and Beth Ferry take readers through a joyous romp that covers the most important elements of every year’s most essential holiday, including singing; closing your eyes and making a wish; blowing out candles on a cake, then settling into bed and dreaming of your wish coming true.

  • Sand Elephant - Paul has no one to play with. The sandbox is empty. Or is it? As he digs and pats the sand, a shape appears: an elephant. Curling up under the elephant’s warm, sandy trunk, Paul drifts off to sleep. But then something amazing happens. The sand elephant stands up, and lifts Paul onto its back! The sand elephant takes Paul to a wonderful land where incredible sand animals and their children are laughing and playing together. But what will happen when the wind starts to blow and the rain starts to fall? In this delightful celebration of the power of childhood imagination, Rinna Herman’s story combines with pictures full of vibrancy and charm by acclaimed illustrator Sanne Dufft. This gentle story reassures children that friends from our imagination stay with us forever, so we need never feel alone.

  • We Forgot Brock! - Phillip and Brock are best friends, although everyone else thinks Brock is imaginary, so when Phillip gets tired out at the Big Fair while Brock is still having fun, they are separated and it will take a very special twosome to bring them back together again.

  • Flashlight Night - Flashlight Night is an ode to the power of imagination and the wonder of books. Three children use a flashlight to light a path around their backyard at night; in the flashlight’s beam another world looms. Our heroes encounter spooky woods, a fearsome tiger, a time-forgotten tomb, an Egyptian god, a sword-fighting pirate, and a giant squid. With ingenuity, they vanquish all, then return to their tree house—braver, closer, and wiser than before—to read the books that inspired their adventure.

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Dr. Seuss's ABC
Written & illustrated by Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Arguably the most entertaining alphabet book ever written, this classic Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss is perfect for children learning their ABCs. Featuring a fantastic cast of zany characters—from Aunt Annie’s alligator to the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz, with a lazy lion licking a lollipop and an ostrich oiling an orange owl—Dr. Seuss’s ABC is a must-have for every young child’s library.

Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

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Cornelia and the Jungle Machine
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Cornelia and her parents move in to a new house. Bored, she is sent to play outside. She discovers a hidden treehouse and a boy her own age. Do you really live here all alone? she asks. No I live here with my inventions. Come and take a look . . . Inside Cornelia is introduced to a magical machine. A jungle machine! Nora Brech’s gothic illustrations are packed with imaginative details and perspectives. Through an extreme wide-angle lens, she draws the reader in to a powerfully detailed, filmatic world.

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Please Try to Remember the First of Octember!
Written by Theo LeSieg and Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Dr. Seuss imagines a day when all your wishes come true in this classic Beginner Book. Octember the First is the day on which all your most outlandish wishes come true. If March is too dusty and April too gusty, if May is too early and June is too soon, just try to remember the first of Octember, when whatever you are hoping to get will be yours! From a balloon pool in the sky to a pickle tree in your backyard, Please Try to Remember the First of Octember! is a wildly silly story that will have readers laughing–and wishing–out loud. Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

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Wacky Wednesday
Written by Dr. Seuss & illustrated by George Booth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Illus. in full color. A baffled youngster awakens one morning to findeverything’s out of place, but no one seems to notice! Beginning readers willhave fun discovering all the wacky things wrong on each page while sharpeningtheir ability to observe, as well as to read.

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There's a Wocket in my Pocket
Written by Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

In this silly Bright and Early Book classic by Dr. Seuss, a young boy goes exploring in his house and finds an array of fun characters! Are you certain there’s a Jertain in the curtain? Or have you ever had a feeling there’s a Geeling on the ceiling? From the pesky Nooth Grush on a tooth brush to a sleepy Zelf up on the shelf, There’s a Wocket in My Pocket will have young readers eager to explore their homes and the wonders of rhyming and wordplay.
Combining brief and funny stories, easy words, catchy rhythm, and lively illustrations, Bright and Early Books are an ideal way to introduce the joys of reading to children.

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  • Frog and Toad Are Friends - From writing letters to going swimming, telling stories to finding lost buttons, Frog and Toad are always there for each other—just as best friends should be.

  • The Cardboard Kingdom - Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All’s Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity. “A breath of fresh air, this tender and dynamic collection is a must-have.” –Kirkus, Starred Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters–and their own inner demons–on one last quest before school starts again. In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be–imagine that! The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL * A TEXAS BLUEBONNET 2019-20 MASTER LIST SELECTION “There’s room for everyone inside The Cardboard Kingdom, where friendship and imagination reign supreme.” –Ingrid Law, New York Times bestselling author of Savvy “A timely and colorful graphic novel debut that, like its many offbeat but on-point characters, marches to the beat of its own cardboard drum.” –Tim Federle, award-winning author of Better Nate Than Ever

  • Snow - An easy reader about the joys of playing in the snow! This classic Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss is a delightful ode to winter. Brrrrr—it snowed! From snowball fights and skiing to fort building and snowman-making, P. D. Eastman and Roy McKie’s Snow will have young readers eager for the kind of fun only a wintry-white day can bring. Perfect for enjoying with a cup of hot cocoa, it makes an ideal gift for the holidays, and happy occasions of all kinds! Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning. “Joyful verse relates the many ways to enjoy snow. First graders will love it.”–Chicago Tribune.

  • Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! - Hog is careful. Harold is not. Harold cannot help smiling. Hog can. Hog worries so that Harold does not have to. Harold and Hog are best friends. But can Harold and Hog’s friendship survive a game of pretending to be Elephant & Piggie?

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Mayhem at the Museum: A Book in Pictures
Written & illustrated by Luciano Lozano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Paintings and sculptures come to life when a young girl visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her classmates. What starts as just another tour of the museum becomes a joyful parade as the art, which must not be touched, touches the young museum-goers in surprising ways.

Images of works in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are beautifully illustrated as dynamic characters by Luciano Lozano Raya in this wordless picture book. Famous paintings and sculptures from throughout the museum will be recognizable to adults while the mischievous breaking of the fourth wall will delight younger readers.

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Fox & Rabbit Make Believe
Written by Beth Ferry & illustrated by Gergely Dudás
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Book #2 in the Fox & Rabbit series celebrates the magic of making believe and making new friends!
 
Fox and Rabbit are the very best of friends. They do everything together. Good things like getting ice cream and not-so-good things like getting bad haircuts. But when they meet a new friend, Owl, Fox isn’t so sure if there’s enough friendship to go around. Soon, Fox learns that it’s easy to be friends with Rabbit and Owl. They have lots of fun exploring the depths of Owl’s big imagination. Together, Fox and Rabbit and Owl sail the high seas, get swallowed by a whale, defeat evil woodchucks, and more—all from the comfort of the playground. Featuring the same funny text and fresh art as Book #1, the second book in the Fox & Rabbit series will delight old fans and seamlessly welcome new ones!

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There's a Dragon in Your Book
Written by Tom Fletcher & illustrated by Greg Abbott
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

OH NO! There’s a dragon in this picture book by bestselling author, YouTube star, and musician Tom Fletcher–author of There’s a Monster in Your Book! A 2019 Children’s Choice Award Honor Book (K-2nd grade).

First, there’s an egg in your book. Then the cutest baby dragon you’ve ever seen hatches from it. But don’t tickle its nose, and whatever you do, don’t let it sneeze! ACHOO! OH MY!

Tom Fletcher’s infectious read-aloud invites kids to use their powers of imagination–along with some stamping, blowing, and flapping–to save their book from an adorable little dragon’s flammable sneezes! Children will be delighted to participate in this satisfying tale, a sequel to There’s a Monster in Your Book.

The bestselling author of The Dinosaur That Pooped series has once again paired up with illustrator Greg Abbott to create another creature that readers will fall in love with–and want to play with–again and again! Tom Fletcher has a huge social-media presence with over a million followers on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. His videos “Buzz and the Dandelions” and “My Wedding Speech” went viral and have been viewed tens of millions of times all over the world.

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Snow Lion
Written by Jim Helmore & illustrated by Richard Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A beautiful, reassuring story with a gentle touch of magicAfter moving to a new home, Caro wishes she had a friend, but she’s too shy to meet the neighborhood kids. With a little imagination, however, Caro finds the Snow Lion. Together, they have all kinds of fun racing, climbing, and playing hide-and-seek. But when the boy next door asks Caro to come play, Caro isn’t so sure. Then, the Snow Lion has an idea! Making new friends isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it in the end.This powerful but gentle story about making new friends is gorgeously illustrated to celebrate the magic and imagination that fills every page and will appeal to any shy or lonely young reader.

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School Rules!
Written & illustrated by Victoria Kann
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Readers can watch Pinkalicious and Peterrific on the funtastic PBS Kids TV series Pinkalicious & Peterrific!A Pinkalicious I Can Read story from New York Times bestselling author Victoria Kann: It’s time for school! Pinkalicious usually likes school, but she thinks of something to make it even better. Pinkalicious brings her imaginary unicorn, Goldie, to class one day. With her companion by her side, school rules!Pinkalicious: School Rules, Pinkalicious’s first Level One I Can Read adventure, is carefully crafted using short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts for children eager to read on their own.

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  • Flora's Tree House - Flora entertains herself by drawing and painting. Will leaps from trees and swings branches like they’re swords. The two siblings have always played separately, until Will is curious about what exactly Flora is putting in her sketchbook. Flora reveals that she has been drawing—and enhancing—all of Will’s imaginary adventures, and making up some of her own. In one joyful afternoon, brother and sister discover that playing together is always more fun. This irresistible and thoughtful story about siblings has expressive, vibrant art as stunning as the adventures the children go on. It is perfect for fans of Jonathan D. Voss’s Brave Enough for Two and Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers.

  • Ta-Da! - What makes a good story? One little girl thinks it’s a princess with magical powers that can—ta-da!—overcome any obstacle. Her friend thinks it’s—dun dun duh!—a combination of dragons, pirates, and fire that cause total chaos. But as their stories intertwine, these two young storytellers soon learn that a good story needs both conflict—dun dun duh!—and resolution—ta-da! An irresistible celebration of imaginary play, storytelling, and the joys of collaboration, this gorgeous picture book features two strong voices throughout, making it the perfect read-aloud.

  • Edward Built a Rocketship - 3…2…1… KAA-BOOM! Edward blasts into space on a magical tour of the Milky Way with meteor showers, asteroids, and aliens. This brightly illustrated adventure is one you definitely won’t forget!

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends - If you are a dreamer, come in, If you are a dreamer, A wisher, a liar, A hope-er, a pray-er, A magic bean buyer … Come in … for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist. Shel Silverstein’s masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound.

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Don't Worry, Bee Happy
Written & illustrated by Ross Burach
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Bumble and Bee love to have FUN. But their best friend Froggy just wants some peace and quiet!Buzz-worthy. –Kirkus Reviews Pick a book. Grow a Reader! This series is part of Scholastic’s early reader line, Acorn, aimed at children who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow! Bumble and Bee love to buzz around the pond and make mischief. Their cranky best friend Froggy prefers the peace and quiet of sitting on a lily pad. They may be an unlikely trio, but no matter what these friends dream up – from picture day problem-solving to a comical cure for the hiccups – you can count on hilarious, unexpected FUN!

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The Horse in Harry's Room
Written & illustrated by Syd Hoff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

In the middle of a big city, a boy named Harry has a horse in his room! No one else can see the horse, but Harry loves him and hopes the horse will always stay.But then Harry visits the country, where he sees horses running free, and he wonders if his own horse would be happier there.The answer to Harry’s question is wonderful and unexpected and is sure to please beginning readers as much as it does Harry. Syd Hoff has created a warm and satisfying story containing few words [and] much wisdom.

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Dr. Seuss's Book of Colors
Written by Dr. Seuss
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

An easy-to-read book about color, inspired by Dr. Seuss and illustrated with artwork from his books! This simple rhymed riff about color is illustrated with art from some of the most beloved–and colorful–works by Dr. Seuss, including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Great for the earliest reader, it is a perfect companion to Dr. Seuss concept books like Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, The Shape of Me and Other Stuff, and Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Nurture a love of reading–and of the many colorful characters created by Dr. Seuss–with this great new concept book for beginning readers!

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Ivy Bird
Written by Tania McCartney & illustrated by Jess Racklyeft
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

“An enchanting portrayal of one girl’s delight in a creature and the many ways they can engage and inspire.” – ALA Booklist

Ivy spends her day with the birds–sipping nectar and splashing in the pond in this joyfully written celebration of birds and imaginative play from an award-winning author-and-illustrator team.

Ivy Bird is a celebration of the natural world and the joy found in imaginative play. Perfect for reading aloud, this book will delight children with its search-and-find elements, bright illustrations, and exuberant story. A nonfiction element, two pages bursting with colorful bird illustrations, encourages readers to seek out birds in their own neighborhoods. Printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable-based inks.

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Can a Cat Do That?
Written & illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Butterflies can fly. Can a cat do that? Find out in this Ready-to-Go! Ready-to-Read filled with Eric Carle’s iconic art style. Perfect for kids at the beginning of their reading journeys, Can a Cat Do That? was written for children who have learned the alphabet and are ready to start reading! And what better way to get kids excited than with a fun story with words they can actually read by the one and only Eric Carle? Each Ready-to-Go! Ready-to-Read includes a note to parents explaining what their child can expect, a guide at the beginning for readers to become familiar with the words they will encounter in the story, and reading comprehension questions at the end. Each Ready-to-Go! story contains about 100 words and features sight words, rhyming words, and repetition to help children reinforce their new reading skills. In this book, readers will learn twelve sight words and four words from two word families.

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  • The Egypt Game - This classic 1968 Newbery Honor Book, The Egypt Game, is available in a brand new paperback edition!

  • Fox in Socks - A collection of tongue twisters for the young reader to read by himself

  • The Cat in the Hat - Poor Dick and Sally. It’s cold and wet and they’re stuck in the house with nothing to do . . . until a giant cat in a hat shows up, transforming the dull day into a madcap adventure and almost wrecking the place in the process! Written by Dr. Seuss in 1957 in response to the concern that “pallid primers [with] abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls’ were leading to growing illiteracy among children, The Cat in the Hat (the first Random House Beginner Book) changed the way our children learn how to read.

  • Play Day School Day - A younger sibling’s curiosity about school opens up a world of possibilities in this ode to the great outdoors. Tomorrow is the first day of the new school year, and big sister Mona can’t wait to go back. “What do you do at school?” asks little brother Milo. As he listens to Mona recount the many things she does during the school week – riding the bus, practicing spelling and reading, learning about science, playing with friends – Milo’s activities illustrate that with a little imagination, nature itself can be a classroom. With delightfully naive artwork and a spare text, Toni Yuly shows that learning is play and vice versa, offering a gentle introduction to school for children who are just starting and a warm celebration for those who are going back.

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Zelda and Ivy
Written & illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“A gentle, humorous look at sibling dynamics. . . . Doozy up your shelves with Zelda and Ivy.” –School Library Journal (starred review) Zelda and Ivy are fox sisters with a flair for the dramatic. Their exploits unfold with plenty of sugar and sass in this spirited trio of stories. Wry and genuine, the linked episodes and expressive illustrations will strike home with beginning readers, especially those who’ve experienced the warmth–and occasional wrath–of a sibling’s attentions.

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Not a Box
Written & illustrated by Antoinette Portis
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

Don’t miss this wholly original celebration of the power of imagination, winner of a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award

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.

Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomes real—when the imagination takes over inside a cardboard box, and through play, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible.

The simple text makes the book appropriate for toddlers, but the message and retro feel of the book also lead to it being an original and compelling gift to mark an occasion such as a graduation.

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The Secrets of Santa's Trackers
Written by Bridget Greene & illustrated by Nadia Grosky
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

With rhymes, humor and interactive adventures, The Secrets of Santa’s Trackers reminds children to make good choices – even when they think no one is watching.

In this wonderfully imaginative positive behavior book for kids, readers learn that Santa keeps track of their misdeeds long after the Christmas tree comes down with the help of magical beings like trolls, fairies, and elves. The characters who accompany diverse children in their daily journeys have unique ways of tracking kids; some fly fast with wings, ride on animals or rely on hoverboards, others don disguises and hide in plain sight.

The story entertains readers by incorporating the elements children love, while reminding them to behave not just in December when Santa is top of mind, but the whole year through (especially during school vacation weeks and summer break). Caregivers love that this book serves as a behavioral tool to encourage children to make good choices, and kids enjoy using their imaginations throughout the story.

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Nurse Clementine
Written by Simon James
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

It’s Clementine Brown’s birthday, and Mr. and Mrs. Brown have given her a nurse’s outfit and a first-aid kit – just what she wanted! There is no shortage of emergencies that need her attention (and her liberal use of bandages): Mr. Brown’s stubbed toe, Mrs. Brown’s headache, even Wellington the dog’s tender paw. But her brother, Tommy, is a different matter. Even though he keeps crashing into things, he insists that he doesn’t need a nurse. Clementine is sad – nurses really need someone to help. But could it be that when a real emergency occurs, her skills will be needed?

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I'm Afraid Your Teddy Is in the Principal's Office
Written by & illustrated by Scott Nash
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

What do your favorite toys get up to when you’re at school? Teddy and friends bring their creative mayhem to the classroom in a gleefully vicarious comic romp. What would happen if your teddy bear stowed away in your backpack and followed you to school? And what if your teddy convinced all your friends’ stuffed animals to come along for the party? Would you believe they might sneak into the cafeteria to play Pizza Disc, head to the band room to put bubbles in the wind instruments, make a clever glue trap for the art teacher, and roll around in finger paint as well? Luckily, the principal remembers what it was like to be young and may let the rambunctious teddy bear and crew off just this once. Author Jancee Dunn and illustrator Scott Nash bring Teddy and friends back for more mischief in a high-spirited tale of uninhibited fun.

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  • Hide 'n' Sheep - In this charming follow-up to Go to Sheep, a sheep is ready to play a game of hide and seek, so count to ten and see if you can find him! The star of Go to Sheep is back in this playful board book, but this time he’s not going to sleep, he’s playing a game of “Hide ’n’ Sheep!” Join the fun as the sheep tries to convince us that he’s all the other animals on the farm—from pigs to chicks! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…ready or not, here we come!

  • Best Day Ever - Summer’s just about over—and William wants to end it by having the BEST DAY EVER! But can a buttoned-up, Type-A kid let loose and embrace a day filled with free-range fun? It’s the last day of summer vacation and William—a little boy who loves order and schedules—has just one thing left to accomplish: have the most fun ever. He’s even created a fun-o-meter to help him achieve his goals. But nothing he does seems special enough. Even worse, William’s fanciful next-door neighbor, Anna, keeps interrupting his plans with increasingly outlandish suggestions—like trampoline bouncing to the moon to find dinosaur bones or riding talking seahorses to an underwater castle. Can these two seemingly different kids find a way to have the best day together . . . and maybe become friends, too? This charming picture book about a child who always follow the rules is a must-read for kids and parents in need of a funny, gentle reminder to get creative and let their imaginations run wild.

  • Ralph and the Rocket Ship - Meet Ralph! He loves all things that go, and he especially loves rocket ships. Oh–and he’s Katy Duck’s best dog pal, Get to know him in this Level 1 Ready-to-Read story for beginning readers. “A rocket ship can take me up to the stars,” said Ralph. “A rocket ship can take me to the moon!” “A rocket ship can take me to planets far, far, away! Zip-zoom-whoosh!” All Ralph wants is a rocket ship. So he asks his mom for one. “Too big,” she tells him. Ralph asks his dad. “Too tall,” he tells Ralph. What will Ralph do? With a little bit of imagination, a stack! stack!, a bang! bang!, and a tape, tape, tape, tape!, Ralph soon has his rocket ship. And it’s even big enough to fit his good pal Katy Duck, too!

  • Good Guys, Bad Guys - A picture book about playing pretend—and the joy of trying out being “bad” or “good” This charming picture book is a timeless celebration of imagination and make-believe. A brother and sister invite their friends to play good guys and bad guys with them. While playing pretend, this rowdy group of kids dress up as pirates, swimmers, cowboys, and more—imagining a vibrant world where the bad guys cause mischief and the good guys save the day. As the day comes to a close, we see the siblings agree to switch who’s “good” and who’s “bad” the next day—showing readers that kids can safely try out good and bad personas as they play.

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Baby Boo, I Love You
Written by Sheryl Haft & illustrated by Jane Massey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Little ones love playing with their dolls! Celebrate that love with Baby-Boo, I Love You, and follow one imaginative little girl who adores playing mommy. And as she bathes, feeds, and frolics with her doll, she emulates a nurturing parent-child relationship, showing the universal joys of being cared for and cherished.

Sheryl Haft’s delightful text and Jane Massey’s endearing illustrations make this a wonderful read-aloud for every child with a favorite doll or stuffed toy, and a reminder of their own parents’ never-ending love.

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Beach Day!
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons & illustrated by Nina Mata
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A Geisel Honor-winning series Author Kelly Starling Lyons selected as the 2021 Piedmont Laureate A Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year 2022Join Ty on his imaginative adventures in Ty’s Travels: Beach Day!, a My First I Can Read book by acclaimed author and illustrator team Kelly Starling Lyons and Niña Mata. Friendship and imagination and play are highlighted in this fun story, perfect for sharing with children 3 to 6.Ty turns an ordinary day in the sandbox into a fun beach day. He wiggles his toes in the sand, finds seashells, builds a castle, and splashes in the ocean. Splish, splash! When his neighbor’s beach ball flies into his backyard, Ty learns that a beach day is even better with a friend.With simple, rhythmic text and joyful, bright art, this My First series and Guided Reading Level I is perfect for shared reading with a child. Books at this level feature basic language, word repetition, and whimsical illustrations, ideal for sharing with emergent readers. The active, engaging stories have appealing plots and lovable characters, encouraging children to continue their reading journey.

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Jeff Goes Wild
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For rainy day reads or as motivation for the littlest readers, this adorable and affirming picture book adventure from author/illustrator Angie Rozelaar is perfect for fans of Lions Lessons and Max the Brave! Bursting with vibrant colors and adorable illustrations, this story follows one little cat named Jeff as he imagines himself as a ferocious tiger in the jungle where he can be free from the rules of indoors! Escaping in his imagination to exercise his wild side, Jeff meets other animals in the jungle. With their help, Jeff learns to appreciate himself for who he is: not a tiger, but a little kitty who can be just as wild. With an uplifting message for young readers and text with call-and-response, jaunty refrains, and rhyme throughout, Jeff Goes Wild is perfect for read-alouds and will have everyone roaring along with Jeff as he goes wild!

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Grandpa's Top Threes
Written by Wendy Meddour & illustrated by Daniel Egneus
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience. Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas.

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Waiting
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit, and a pig—all toys arranged on a child’s windowsill—wait for marvelous things to happen in this irresistible picture book by the New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes.

Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?

Waiting is a big part of childhood—waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen—but in this book, a child sets the stage and pulls the strings. Timeless, beautiful, and deeply heartfelt, this picture book about imaginative play, the seasons, friendship, and surprises marks a new pinnacle in Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes’s extraordinary career.

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