10 Books to Encourage Kids’ Creativity

Sep 24, 2013

I remember spending childhood summers, cold winter days and rainy weekends building, creating and imagining. This selection of 10 books encourages kids to explore their creativity through art, music and the power of the imagination.


When Stella Was Very, Very Small by Marie-Louise Gay
You may be familiar with Stella's imaginative answers to little brother Sam's questions from the Stella and Sam series. She always knows just what to tell Sam. But have you ever wondered where Stella gets her ideas from? It seems many of Marie-Louise Gay's readers have asked just that. When Stella Was Very, Very Small shows us how big little Stella's imagination really is.



Topsy-Turvy Town by Luc Melanson
A boy lives in Topsy-Turvy Town, a place where it rains broccoli and cars are made of chocolate and pineapple. His sister says that's silly, and his aunt thinks he's making it up. Nobody believes that the town exists ... except his mom. This book's simple text and evocative illustrations capture what it's like to have a big imagination in a world that prizes reality.



Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds
Marisol is an artist, and when her teacher announces they are going to paint a mural, Marisol is ecstatic. She volunteers to paint the sky, but then discovers there is no blue paint. That night, she watches the sky as the sun sets, then dreams of a sky full of many colours. When she returns to school, she's invented a new colour - sky colour. Continuing on the themes of his other books, Dot and Ish, Reynolds makes the creative process accessible, and explores what it means to be an artist.




The Couch Was a Castle by Ruth Ohi
I remember spending many hours as a child imagining that my couch was a ship and the floor below was shark-infested waters. I always played this game with my sister. In The Couch Was a Castle, Burt and his brother imagine the couch is all sorts of things, but when some scenarios end in tears, Burt realizes imagining is much more fun when it's done with a buddy.




Noisy Poems for a Busy Day by Robert Heidbreder; illustrated by Lori Joy Smith
This collection of poems by poet Robert Heidbreder captures a day in the life of kids in bite-sized onomatopoeic rhyme. Lively and short, the poems will inspire readers to create their own poems to depict elements of their lives.






Art's Supplies by Chris Tougas
WARNING: This could get messy. What happens when the art supplies take on a life of their own? Well, you end up with a mess-terpiece, of course! A celebration of the power of imagination, this story perfectly illustrates the state of being in a creative groove. Readers will enjoy the playful illustrations along with the jokes and wordplay. 




Mr. Zinger's Hat by Cary Fagan; illustrated by Dušan Petričić
Mr. Zinger is a storyteller, and when Leo helps him retrieve his hat, the two sit down to share the story that was bursting to get out of it. Leo fills in the details of the story, until it becomes his and not Mr. Zinger's. Beautifully told by master storyteller Cary Fagan and wonderfully illustrated by Dušan Petričić, Mr. Zinger's Hat proves that anyone has the ability to weave a great yarn.




My Think-a-ma-jink by Dave Whamond
It's Jack's birthday, but he's not very excited ... until he receives an imagination machine - a think-a-ma-jink - from his Uncle Doug. Then all sorts of adventures ensue: a freakish mutant monster attacks the city, a hot air balloon whisks him off to the far corners of the universe and more! But when the think-a-ma-jink smashes into little pieces, Jack realizes he has the power to imagine anything without any help. 





In Front of My House by Marianne Dubuc
Beginning with the line, "In front of my house...," this story goes everywhere - on the rosebush in front of my house, above a little bird on the rosebush, behind the window that's above the bird, and so on - until it returns to "in front of my house." The simple text puts storytelling on a level that is super-accessible to young children. Try following the formula set out in the book to create a wonderful word game to play on a road trip, or write your own story.



The City Speaks in Drums by Shauntay Grant; illustrated by Susan Tooke
Music is everywhere in this urban story, as boys explore their Halifax neighbourhood. At the skate park, in the spring garden or on the street - the city is alive with music. Written in Shauntay Grant's spoken word style, the book expresses the joy of exploring your surroundings on a summer day and discovering its rhythms. How are your kids channelling their creativity?

Article Author Tamara Sztainbok
Tamara Sztainbok

Read more from Tamara here.

Tamara Sztainbok is the mother of two school-aged children. A children's book editor with Scholastic Canada, she believes anything you ever need to know you can learn from a children's book. She also runs Puzzle Box Communications, providing communication services to small businesses. She writes about adult books on her ClubMom blog, Turning Pages. Follow her on Twitter @PuzzleBoxCom. Opinions expressed here are Tamara's alone.

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