Picture books open up a marvelous world for children but as grown ups we often read them over and over again too. So I wanted to write ...

Picture Books for Grown Ups

Saturday, December 15, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

Picture books open up a marvelous world for children but as grown ups we often read them over and over again too. So I wanted to write a blog post rounding up some of the best picture books for grown-ups (much like I did in a previous post). I wanted to share books which not only appeal to children but also to the grown ups reading them and that have messages which resonate with us too. These books are special because whilst they do appeal to children, and there's no doubt that they were written with children in mind, they also have a special magic that make them a delight to read for grown-ups too. And maybe they resonate and teach us something too.

The Girls by Lauren Ace & Jenny Lovlie

When I read this new picture book for the first time, my eyes welled with tears because it really captures my experience of friendship. It tells the beautiful story of four girls who "were are different as they were they same" and how they were best friends. It shows them developing their own personalities, interests, characters but how they also stuck together through thick and thin. How they celebrate each other's successes, and support each other when things go wrong. And as they grow older, this story follows them from childhood to adulthood, they change and grow but their friendship remains steadfast. "Together and apart, the girls went on becoming who they were going to be." The careful wording and thoughtful illustrations in this book are absolutely heart-warming. They show girls, who become women, from different backgrounds, with different interests, with different challenges and successes but who stick together through it all. Because love binds us, holds us together. The illustrations are so touching and they really show the spice and variety of life! I really cannot speak highly enough of this story. 

The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter & Katie Rewse

This incredibly beautiful book looks at ways of supporting children with parent absenteeism or loss, dealing with child anxiety and worries. And it’s soft, supportive and subtle. After Maya has lost her mum, she struggles with worries and anxiety finding the gap in her life to be a gaping black hole of confusion, anger, grief and heartache. Fortunately for Maya she has a wonderfully supportive father who understands and tries to help her find ways to cope with her emotions. With incredibly beautiful illustrations of a garden blooming back to life this is a truly beautiful book. The illustrations in this book are beautifully soft and subtle and show the small changes in the garden, and in Maya, over the passage of time. The incredible blooming of the garden is spectacularly captured and will delight readers as much as it does the characters.

Yellow Kayak by Nina Landen & Melissa Castrillon

The cover is stunning, with an added bonus that the binding is incredible and the illustrations inside are truly spectacular. A wonder for sure. And of course the poetry of the text matches the beauty of the illustrations too. I love this slow story, long poem about a journey across the ocean and adore the creatures that the pair come across. This is quite the delight to enjoy with a child or on your own.

Joy by Corrinne Averiss & Isabelle Follath

This is truly a joyful book! It tells the story of Fern whose Nanna has been feeling rather grey of late and Fern is determined to catch some joy to put back into her Nanna's life. But joy isn't quite so easy to catch as you would think! This is such a delightful story that is bound to make you smile. It gently touches on ways to tackle unhappiness and the idea that we are not happy all the time. It's also a story about family, happiness and teaching little ones about empathy. It's also one of the most beautifully illustrated books that we have on our bookshelves! The use of colour, pattern and creativity gives this story the real flourish that it deserves. 

The Dog That Ate the World by Sandra Dieckmann

This story is a modern day fable about over-consumption and greed and finding the light in the darkness. When greedy dog eats everything around him, his world becomes dark, where as the animals and world he had consumed create a community inside. The illustrations are dark but packed full of incredible detail and if you are a fan of darker fairytales then this new fable is perfect for your bookshelf. 

Power to the Princess by Vita Weinstein Murrow & Julia Bereciartu

If you  enjoy a princess story but prefer your women to have a bit more gravitas then this book is perfect! It stars mighty girls who are modern, feisty and reflect the roles that women have in society today! I really enjoyed the updated versions of the story and loved the diversity of the illustrations. It's lovely to see these traditional stories updated in such a successful way and to give the message of finding a different way of tackling a problem and ultimately that not every story that has a 'happily ever after' needs to have a prince and a wedding. We can choose our own happily ever afters! 

Happy by Nicola Edwards & Katie Hickey

As you know, I enjoy a book that helps children to explore their motions and the world around them. With beautiful poetry on each page, this book explores a range of emotions that most children (and adults) have experienced with supporting illustrations that will take you on a journey to a place of happiness and calm. Each page also has a prompt for practising mindfulness. As awareness of mindfulness grows I expect we will see more wonderful books on this topic but this one is an exquisite book and utterly beautiful.

Drawing Together: Forty-Five Illustrators, One Europe 

This a glorious celebration of where I stand politically and how I feel about that catastrophe that is Brexit. I simply do not understand it. This book makes me wonder how we will explain to our children and grandchildren this decision we (though not all of us and a majority of younger people did in fact vote against) made to remove them from all the opportunities that being part of the EU provides. I just hope they will forgive us and travel across Europe showing a tolerance and friendship that our generation did not. And the illustrations are truly spectacular!

In some ways I love this book because it reminds me of two old jigsaw puzzles I had growing up: one of which showed the globe with animals from all over and the other which featured world landmarks. But this book is the epitomy of illustrations as artwork. Using a muted colour palette and natural tones each page features a country from around the world and highlights some of it's wonderful features from it's wildlife, to landmarks, to agriculture, traditional costume, musical instruments, artists, and notable citizens and historical figures. There is very little text so it is a visual wonder as it conveys so much information through it's clever illustrations. 

Ever wonder how a picture book gets made? And how sometimes things just go wrong. This is a hilarious story about just that. Allan Ahlberg has written hundreds of wonderful books so he knows exactly what he is talking about and Bruce Ingham's such an experienced illustrator that he's come across all sorts of hilarious slip-ups in the creation of a picture book. You will laugh out loud at this one!

I hope you enjoy some of these lovely picture books either with your little one or on your own!

Happy reading,
Kim - self-confessed picture book fanatic and proud of it. 
After all picture books are for grown ups too! x

Disclaimer: these are all my choices. Some were sent from publishers but they were not sent in connection with this post. Their inclusion here is my choice. Because I really do think they are great. Please read our review policy if you want to know more. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to Amazon.co.uk using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on Amazon.co.uk, I will receive a small sum (around 20-90p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.



  1. The artwork in these books must be fantastic. The only one I’m familiar with is The Garden of Hope which I thought was great. Look forward to reading some of the others.

    1. Yes I think that's a stand out when it's to appeal to grown ups too. We are far more selective about good art!