3 Picture Books That Aren’t (Just) for Pre-readers


I have made it clear that we read a lot over here, and we read a lot of different things. But sometimes there’s fun to be had in not reading at all.

Some of our favorite books don’t have any words, but they’re not necessarily just for little kids. Telling the story of what’s happening in the pictures is what makes these books awesome.

Here’s a look at three great picture books even older kids will love. They all have a bit of magic to them, which makes them all the more endearing. They also all happen to have one-word titles. Strange.

Flotsam by David Wiesner

flotsam children's book
Turtle with a city on its back. From the author’s website.

This book was our introduction to the more grown-up picture book genre. Our friend and the girl’s birthday buddy Mike gave it to her for her first birthday, so we’ve gone through just looking at the pictures to me telling the story, to her telling it the same way I did to telling it her own way.

This one won the Caldecott in 2007, so clearly we aren’t the only ones who love it.

It tells the story of a geeky little boy on a day at the beach who gets hit by a wave and, when the water washes away, finds an underwater camera with film in it.

He gets the film developed and sees all sorts of amazing things.

There are also pictures of children back through the decades who have gotten their hands on the camera.

This one’s a lot of fun for kids who love the beach or are interested in what’s under the water.

Journey by Aaron Becker

journey children's book
“Lida” and the bird flying over Old Cairo. From the author’s website.

This one is probably my favorite. I describe it as Harold and the Purple Crayon for the next generation (though we love Harold, too). It was a 2014 Caldecott Honor book, and he’s got a new book with the same characters called Quest that just came out.

It’s about a bored little girl whose family is too busy to play with her, so she draws a door on the wall of her room, which opens up into a magical world.

When we first started reading this one I emphasized that drawing on the wall does not actually create a magic portal. Just in case.

The girl likes this one a lot, too, and gives all the people names. Most of them change with each telling, but the girl’s name is Lida. I don’t know why.

Chalk by Bill Thompson

chalk children's book
Chalk butterflies come alive. From the author’s website.

The girl just got this one for her birthday, but it’s really cute and quickly becoming a favorite.

A group of kids walks to the park in the rain and they find some very special chalk that makes whatever they draw come alive.

Which is great, until somebody draws a dinosaur. Of course.

I’m sure there are more books in this vein. Does your family have a favorite wordless picture book? I’d love to hear about it!

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One Comment

  1. Jamie

    We have Journey, too, and we love it. I didn’t realize there was a sequel. Cool!

    I bought the “And Then…Story Starters” for my niece, and although they are not really in the same category as picture books, they are great for creativity as well. Your child can choose from a set of 20 story beginnings, and you read the first part to her/him. After that, you both complete the stories through your own storytelling. It’s nice, too, because it is definitely a good parent/child activity.

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