Books That Promote Imagination 10

Books that Promote Imagination

3 August 2022 • Words by Kate Purnell 4 mins

With so much opportunity for screen time, it’s a wonder that any of us still manage to imagine worlds we can’t already see. Our digital world can leave us without a feeling that sparks creativity—boredom. This may seem surprising, but according to some research, boredom may be necessary to incite one’s creativity. Rather than allowing technology to immediately relieve this state of boredom, we can promote our own imagination and entertainment with the help of books. Reading is a great way to activate the imagination and develop our senses and recall ability. We can use books to help children begin to create from their own minds and discover artistic and wondrous worlds. Below are some options you can use to help your young one reach their most imaginative potential!

Books that Promote Imagination

What If . . .

What If . . . (written by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Mike Curato) is a beautifully imaginative book that weaves a tale of a young girl with purple hair. She takes us on a journey of showing us her dreams. She uses materials in her environment to express her imagination and shows the reader that it is her most powerful tool. 

books to promote imagination

Drawn Together

Drawn Together (written by Minh Lê; illustrated by Dan Santat) is about connecting across generations and languages. It lets us know that you don’t always need words to find a common ground. A grandfather and grandson who speak different languages aren’t able to verbally communicate. So, they discover art as a means of expressing themselves to each other. The illustrations are focused strongly on showing what the characters are feeling and how to build relationships regardless of language. 

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are (written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak) is a testament to familial love. In this classic tale, Max is sent to bed without his supper after misbehaving. A fantastical forest grows in his room and he embarks on a journey to the land of Wild Things. Here he is deemed king. 

books to promote imagination

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (written by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Lane Smith) reimagines an age-old children’s tale. It’s a witty read and discusses themes of trust and judging others. I’ve used this as an activity for creative writing to start my class on their own reimagining of fairy tales. It’s a wonderful book to help promote imagination in kids!

Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? (written and illustrated by Carson Ellis) is a story about bugs who discover the beginnings of a plant. As the invented “bug language” takes shape, children begin to realize that the words actually make sense. This is a great way to get your child to discuss language and made-up words. Maybe invite them to come up with new words of their own! 

books to promote imagination

Nigel and the Moon

In Nigel and the Moon (written by Antwan Eady; illustrated by Gracey Zhang), Nigel looks up at the moon and his imagination begins to soar. He imagines himself as an astronaut, a superhero, or a dancer. Nigel feels safe dreaming alongside the moon. He isn’t sure if he can share these dreams with his classmates during career week since he already feels like an outsider, though. This is a story about acceptance and believing in yourself. 


Willow (written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan; illustrated by Cyd Moore) takes us on a journey with a young girl who gets under her strict teacher’s skin by drawing her apples blue and her tree pink. Her pure joy and imagination lead to persistent criticism. This doesn’t stop her kindness, though, as she is the only student to give her teacher a Christmas present. Perhaps it is her imaginative spark of love that has the power to change it all. 

books to promote imagination


Weslandia (written by Paul Fleischman; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes) is a beautiful tale of a boy who is rejected by his classmates because of his non-conforming ways. One summer, he develops an idea to create his own civilization and gets the kids in the neighborhood to join him. This wonderful story shows what can happen when you have the courage to be yourself. 

What Do You Do with an Idea?

What Do You Do with an Idea? (written by Kobi Yamada; illustrated by Mae Besom) follows an idea that grows as the confidence of the child who has the idea grows. Then, one day, something incredible takes place. 

Maybe Something Beautiful

Maybe Something Beautiful is written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, and illustrated by Rafael López. It shows how one’s creativity can have an outstanding effect on an entire community.

Kate Purnell

Kate Purnell is originally from Oakland, Ca. She currently lives in the UK teaching Secondary English and Drama. An educator, writer and all-around multi-hyphenate, you can find her trying to get her students to fall in love with the power of the human story, writing her own or attempting to not be distracted during her yoga class. You can find her on Twitter and IG @KatePurnell