Books that celebration imagination

You know that universal parenting tale about giving a child a gift and how they will ignore the gift and reach for the box?

It has never really been true in my house even when my 6 and 4 year old were younger.  Don’t get me wrong, they like the boxes too.  The fact is they really don’t discriminate when it comes to props in there elaborate imaginary play world.  Anything and everything will do.  Blocks, pillows, blankets, dolls, guys, cars, animals (plastic and stuffed), and of course boxes!  They also don’t need me or anyone else telling them how to go about imaginary play.  They know more than me and are masters of technique!

Last night we read “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis.  Since they love it so much and we’ve had it out (from the library) several times, it might be time to buy it.

I actually wonder why like they like it so much based on the fact that they really don’t want adult interference in their imaginary play world.  It is probably because they can actually imagine the conversation with the bunny about the box and are not hearing the story, as I am, from the author (an adult).

Anyway, they like it, and there are several other great books that celebrate imagination.  Here are some we like…

Let’s Make Rabbits by Leo Lionni

“Let’s, make rabbits,” say the scissors to the pencil, and, before the reader’s eyes, two rabbits appear—one drawn by the pencil, the other cut from brightly patterned paper by the scissors. When the rabbits are hungry, the scissors and the pencil provide paper carrots. But one day the taste of a real carrot leads to a magical surprise. Readers will delight in this imaginative tale from four-time Caldecott Honor Winner Leo Lionni (Amazon description).

Little Blue and Little Yellow also by Leo Lionni

Little blue and little yellow share wonderful adventures. One day, they can’t find one another. When they finally meet, they are overjoyed. They hug until they become green. But where did little blue and little yellow go? Are they lost (Amazon description)?

Harold and the Purple Crayon 50th Anniversary Edition (Purple Crayon Books) by Crockett Johnson

One evening Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. But there wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. Fortunately, he had brought his purple crayon. So he drew a moon. He also needed something to walk on. So he drew a path…

And thus begins one of the most imaginative and enchanting adventures in all of children’s books. The creative concept behind this beloved story has intrigued children and kept them absorbed for generations, as page by page unfolds the dramatic and clever adventures of Harold and his purple crayon (Amazon description).

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages (Amazon description)!

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

A box is just a box . . . unless it’s not a box. From mountain to rocket ship, a small rabbit shows that a box will go as far as the imagination allows.

Inspired by a memory of sitting in a box on her driveway with her sister, Antoinette Portis captures the thrill when pretend feels so real that it actually becomesreal—when the imagination takes over and inside a cardboard box, a child is transported to a world where anything is possible (Amazon description).

Not a Stick also by Antoinette Portis

Antoinette Portis again captures the thrill of when pretend feels so real that it becomes real. With a stick in hand, the options are endless—whether it’s conducting an orchestra, painting a masterpiece, or slaying a dragon—give a child a stick and let imagination take over and the magic begin (Amazon description).

Thanks Rooth from A Miusmie for the following selection!

The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Now republished in a larger format, this classic depicts amusing correspondence from one fairy tale or Mother Goose character to another, giving readers a chance to follow-up on some favorite tales. Full-color illustrations (Amazon description).

Each Peach Pear Plum (Picture Puffins) by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

“Each Peach Pear Plum. I spy Tom Thumb!” In this engaging, interactive book for the very young, familiar nursery-rhyme characters such as Mother Hubbard and Baby Bunting sneak their way into the gentle drawings. Even young children who might not know all the fairy-tale stars can find them lurking in the cupboard, on the stairs, or deep in the woods. In the happy finale, the whole cast meets up for plum pie in the sun, where the little one on your lap will gleefully find everyone. An American Library Association Notable Book (Amazon description).

I am certain I missed a bunch of great ones!  Please add your suggestions as comments and I will add them to the list.


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. I remember Little Blue and Little Yellow and Harold and the Purple Crayon. I always liked The Jolly Postman, because there’s mail in the envelopes. I thought that was so genius at the time (and still kind of think it is)

  2. I cannot believe we don’t have a single one of those books! I will have to check them all out, I’m particularly intrigued by “Not a Stick” and “Not a Box”. Thanks for the recommendations, as always!

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