Some of my favorite picture books are the ones that feature strange and beautiful new worlds that can be reached only through the imagination. Not only do these books spark the imagination and encourage creativity, they seem like metaphors for the act of reading itself. Only in books can we travel to so many worlds in a single lifetime. Here are a few of the picture books that stand out in my mind for the amazing imaginary worlds they present.
Beyond the Pond – by Joseph Kuefler
A young boy explores the pond near his house and discovers a fantastical imaginary world beneath its depths. This is one of those books that really sparks the imagination and makes you look at the world around you in a new and expectant way.
Pool – by JiHyeon Lee
In this lovely wordless picture book, a young boy dives deep into the pool to avoid the crowd of noisy people at the surface. The world he discovers (and the friend he makes) in the depths of the pool defy the rules of predictability.
The Whisper – by Pamela Zagarenski
A girl brings home a magical picture book, but all the words fall out along the way home. She discovers that she can make up the stories in her own imagination. This book is written in such a way that it encourages the reader to finish an uncompleted story on each page. My son was hesitant at first, but ended up thoroughly enjoying making up his own ending for the various stories. The book features amazing illustrations as well.
Flotsam – by David Wiesner
A boy collects flotsam from a beach at low tide. When he discovers an underwater camera washed up on the shore, he’s unprepared for the magical discoveries he’ll find locked within it. Each page is richly illustrated, and the unexpected details in this wordless picture book are delightful.
Sebastian and the Balloon – by Philip C. Stead
Sebastian is bored, so he makes a balloon out of his grandmother’s quilts and afghans, and sails away into clouds. He meets some wonderful characters along the way — a lumbering bear, a tall bird with a long beak, and three elderly sisters who introduce him to a ramshackle roller coaster.
This is Sadie – by Sara O’Leary
This beautiful story shows a day in the life of an imaginative girl named Sadie — the worlds she visits and adventures she has within her mind over the course of a day. We see a cardboard box becoming a ship at sea, and the friends she makes within the pages of a book. My son loved this book, and wanted to read it again as soon as we finished it.
Journey and Quest – by Aaron Becker
Both of these beautifully illustrated wordless picture books feature children who find themselves on adventures in fantastical worlds, armed only with crayons whose drawings can become real. My son loves to tell me the stories of their adventures as we flip through the pages.