Suggested “Sophisticated Picture Book” List

Sophisticated Picture Books are books that…

  • “Are springboards for critical thinking, aimed at engaging older kids (elementary grades +) with reading.
  • Contain visual and literary aspects of a book that provide subtle subtexts, requiring older children to draw on existing knowledge or multiple narratives.
  • Weave words and pictures to tell story.
  • Deal with realistic issues such as global, refugees, etc…
  • Allow a child to explore complex values, traditions, emotions, relationships
  • Challenge reader to go beyond story
  • Have complex artwork, sometimes, varied design layout or are wordless
  • Help to develop empathy, critical reflection, discussion
  • Are great tools for reluctant readers!”

Some Awesome Authors to Explore…

  • Jeannie Baker
  • Graeme Base
  • Anthony Browne
  • Gary Crew
  • Allan Say
  • Shaun Tan
  • Colin Thompson
  • Chris Van Allsburg
  • David Wiesner

*Also, check out this awesome site for diverse books Diverse Book Finder: Identify & Explore Multicultural Picture Books

Visualize This: Books about the Arts

Bryant, Jen A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (JBiog Pippin)

Fleischman, Paul Joyful Noise (J811 Fle)

Morales, Yuyi Viva Frida (JBiog Kah)

Scieszka, Jon Knucklehead (JBiog Scieszka)

Notes on a Page: Book about Music

Andrew, Troy Trombone Shorty (J788.9 And)

Christensen, Bonnie Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People (J782.421 Chr)

Cline-Ransome, Lesa Before There Was Mozart JBiog Mozart)

Cutler, Jane The Cello of Mr. O (JP)

Minor, Wendell Buzz Aldrin: Reaching for the Moon (JBiog Aldrin)

Neri, G. Hello, I’m Johnny Cash (JBiog Cash)

Pinkney, Andrea Davis Duke Ellington (J781.65 Pin)

Steptoe, Javaka Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (JBiog Basquiat) 

Into the Past: Books about History

Boroson, Melinda R. 86 Years: The Legend of the Boston Red Sox (JP)

Clinton, Chelsea She Persisted (J920 Cli)

Connor, Leslie Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel (JP)

Dupuis, Jenny Kay I Am Not a Number (JP)

Gerstein, Mordicai The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (J791.3 Ger)

Harvey, Brett Cassie’s Journey: Going West in the 1860’s (JP)

Hendershot, Judith In Coal Country (JP)

Homan, Lynn M. The Tuskegee Airmen Story (JP)

Kalman, Maira Fireboat: The Adventures of the John J. Harvey (JP)

Larson, Kirby Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina (JP)

Manzione, Lisa The Adventures of Bella & Harry (travel series) (JP)

Maurer, Tracy Nelson John Deere, That’s Who! (JBiog Deere)

Pinborough, Jan Miss Moore Thought Otherwise (JBiog Moore)

Polacco, Patricia Pink and Say (JF)

Say, Allen Kamishibai Man (JP)

Spedden, Daisy Polar Bear: The Titanic Bear (J910.4 Spe)

Tavares, Matt Growing Up Pedro (JBiog Martinez)

Tubridy, Ryan Patrick and the President (JP)

Van Allsburg, Chris Queen of the Falls (JBiog Taylor)

Theories and Revelations: Books about Math and Science                                                                                                                                  (see JBiography for many other titles)

Beaty, Andrea Ada Twist, Scientist (JP); see other science titles by same author

Brown, Don Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein (JBiog Einstein)

Heiligman, Deborah The Boy Who Loved Math (JBiog Erdos)

Sis, Peter Starry Messenger (JP)

Winter, Jeanette The Watcher (JBiog Goodall)

Challenges and Change: Stories of Politics, Identity and Understanding

Beaty, Andrea Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau (JP)

Brisson, Pat The Summer My Father Was Ten (JP)

Bryan, Ashley Beautiful Blackbird (JP)

Cheng, Andrea When the Bees Fly Home (JP)

Chin, Jason Redwoods (JP)

De Kinder, Jan Red (JP)

Goldsaito, Katrina The Sound of Silence (JP)

Hao, Kuang-Tsai Seven Magic Brothers (JP)

Harshman, Marc The Storm (JP)

Kajikawa, Kimiko Tsunami! (JP)

Khan, Rukhsana The Roses in My Carpets (JP)

Medina, Meg Mango, Abuela, and Me (JP)

Palacio, R.J. We’re All Wonders (JP)

de la Peña, Matt Last Stop on Market Street  (JP)

Polacco, Patricia An A from Miss Keller (JP)

Wood, Douglas Old Turtle: Questions of the Heart (JP)

Young, Rebecca Teacup (JP)

Seriously Surreal: Tales of (Im)possibility

Becker, Aaron Return (JP Bec)

Bodkin, Odds The Banshee Train (JP Bod)

Laden, Nina If I Had a Little Dream (JP Lad)

Thompson, Colin The Paradise Garden (JP Tho)

Van, Allsburg Zathura (JP Van)

Wiesner, David Hurricane (JP Wie)

Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor

Base, Graeme The Water Hole (JP Bas)

Chaud, Benjamin The Bear’s Sea Escape (JP Cha)

Katz, Alan Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Songs (J782.4 Kat)

Kelly, Mark Moussetronaut Goes to Mars (JP)

Scieszka, Jon Robot (JP Sci)

All Cracked Up: Fractured Tales and Fables

Brumbeau, Jeff The Quiltmaker’s Gift (JP)

Grey, Mini The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-To-Be (JP)

Levine, Gail Carson Betsy Who Cried Wolf! (JP)

Scieszka, Jon The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (JP)

Singer, Marilyn Mirror, Mirror (JP)


Thanks to this helpful site

Please ask the Children’s Librarian for further selections and enjoy reading!

Compiled by Carol McFadden, Head of Children’s Services




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