10 Picture Books that Celebrate Imagination | Marvelous Mundane

I live in a home surrounded by boys. This life is a drastic change from my growing up years, where, until two brothers were born in my teenage years, we girls outnumbered the lone male 4-1. Now my constant challenge is analyzing whether the wrestling and yelling is done in love or anger (or catching the moment it switches from one to the other!), wondering when the next nerf dart is going to fly past my head, and hoping there is enough food to get us through the week.

But in all the fun and crazy of boy-life, there is one sure way to create a bit of quiet: sitting down on the couch with a book! My top hobbies are book stalking on Amazon, maxing out my library card each month, and wrestling overflowing book bags from the library desk to my minivan. All of those moments are worth it when I pull a heaping bag of books over to the couch, and three little boys stop whatever they are doing and pile around me. I want to store those moments up forever.

Every single book on this list is a guaranteed stop-whatever-you-are-doing-and-pile-on-mom moment. Every single book here I would order for myself, even if I had no children to read them to. Who says that “children’s books” are only for people under a certain age?


Christina Katerina and the Box

After every holiday with gift giving, my husband and I say, “I think all they needed was the boxes!” And all Christina Katerina needed was a box for endless days of fun in her backyard. A secret clubhouse, a castle, and a race car all appear out of an abandoned box. After you read this, you are going to buy some giant appliances just to get your own box!


Where the Wild Things Are

I am fascinated by the illustrations and wording of this classic children’s book. My boys are fascinated by Max’s room transforming into a great woods with a river running through, and his ability to tame the wild things with only a look. Oh, and of course his chasing the dog with a fork!




Journey was our introduction to the world of wordless books. Follow a girl as she finds a red crayon on the sidewalk, a magical crayon that draws a door to a whole new world, full of adventure. Each time we look through this book, we create our own new twist on the storyline.


Dream Animals

We borrowed this board book from friends, and it was difficult to hand it back; I never felt like we were actually “done” with it! A board book that celebrates imagination, this book will send your kids off to bed eager for what their dreams might hold.


Andrew Henry's Meadow

An imaginative young builder leaves home and builds his own house in the woods. As other children join him, he builds unique houses suiting the needs of each child: a treehouse for the bird lover, an underground home for the rodent owning boy, and others. No, your child won’t run away after they read this, and yes, they will ask you to read it again. And again. And again.



A left-out boy creates an entire civilization in his backyard- complete with a unique language, a native crop, and homemade clothing. This book creates endless discussions and imaginative play ideas.



My boys love this book! Two children start playing a game without any idea of what they are getting themselves into. As wild animals begin appearing throughout their house, they realize the only way to return to normal is to finish the game. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, making the story seem realistic.The anticipation that builds with each page keeps my kids hanging on through the whole book. When I ordered this book, I didn’t realize that I ordered the copy that contained an audio CD. This CD has been played many times in my house.



If I had to pick a favorite, this is it!  Maybe because it brought back so many memories of my childhood, of my sister and I creating our own homes in the woods with friends. Or maybe it is because the children in this book see the value in constructing two ice cream shops. Either way, Roxaboxen is a magical book where neighborhood children create their own special town of “Roxaboxen” in the middle of the desert, a town made of white stones, desert glass, and abandoned wooden crates. They even have a mayor, a policeman, a bakery and two dueling ice cream shops.


Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

This is the book that came before the popular movies. And like any true book lover, I SWEAR the book is even better. If not better, at least not quite as terrifying to a toddler (There are no man-eating chickens!). My children read this book wishing food would fall from our sky, and I read this book thankful that I’m not anywhere near the town of Chewandswallow!


Day Dreamers


By the same author of “Dream Animals”, this board book steps into the world of children where nothing is every truly “ordinary”. Whether finding animals floating through the clouds, or the magical creatures stepping off the pages of books, this book is a reminder to let our imaginations create enjoyment everywhere.