Picture Books about Creative Thinking & Problem-Solving

Picture Books about Creative Thinking & Problem-Solving

Explore picture books about creative thinking to promote independent and critical thinkers in your classroom. They illustrate problem-solvers who develop creative ideas, make connections and are creative thinkers.

Picture Books for Creative Thinkers & Problem-Solvers

Why Read Picture Books about Creative Thinking?

According to the IB learner profile, effective thinkers “use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. [They] exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.”

Picture books about creative thinking and problem-solving show characters facing a problem and figuring out a solution. They explore the enthusiasm and empowerment of people who effectively figure things out. Book characters and illustrations will spark your students’ imagination, helping them develop and improve their own creative ideas. Benefits of critical thinking skills include:

Picture Books about Creative Thinking

These picture books follow characters thinking independently, critically and creatively solving problems. Others show the importance of an open mind and listening to the ideas of others while still drawing their own conclusions. You will see characters who:

  • Use knowledge to solve problems independently
  • Predict outcomes
  • Think things through and make responsible decisions
  • Makes mistakes and try again
  • Recognise breakthroughs and try new strategies
  • Use trial and error to find a solution
  • Try to improve their thinking skills
  • Check thinking for assumptions and misinformation

Some of the book characters are passive thinkers and you will see them:

  • Unwilling to question their thoughts and their implications
  • Dismiss ideas and opinions because they don’t go with their own thoughts
  • Make assumptions and judgements without assessing these thoughts further
  • Not question their decisions, beliefs, and values
  • Being self-centred, narrow-minded, prejudiced and believing in misinformation
  • Not defending their point of view
  • Have low self-esteem and seek approval from others
  • Hesitate when making decisions

Questions to Use with Picture Books about Creative Thinking

  • Describe the different ways the characters were effective thinkers and problem-solvers.
  • Which character was the more creative thinker? Why?
  • How did [character] solve the problem? What strategies did they use?
  • Why do you think [character] was an effective problem solver?
  • Why did [character’s] idea work in the end? Did they think about how their decisions would affect the outcome and other characters?
  • Did [character] make good decisions? Is there anything they could have done differently?
  • Did [character] work independently to solve the problem or did they work collaboratively? Was this the best strategy?
  • Does a thinker have to be brave, a risk-taker….?
  • Did their decision making surprise you? Were they creative in their thinking?
  • How did [character’s] way of thinking impact the outcome of the story?

FREE Thinkers Graphic Organizers

Learner Profile: Thinkers Graphic Organizers TPT

Would you like some FREE Learner Profile graphic organisers?

The resource includes a graphic organizer for each learner profile. Fill in the form below to get access to the FREE pack.

You can find the FULL THINKERS resource pack by clicking on the image.

If you already have access to the free resource library, you will find the freebie in the Learner Profile section.

Picture Books about Thinking and Problem-Solving

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Ada Twist’s scientific curiosity leads her to question, hypothesise, experiment and figure out how the world works.

Promotes themes of curiosity, inquiry, knowledge and creative thinking.

Anita and the Dragons by Hannah Carmona

From her home in the Dominican Republic, Anita watches dragons fly high above her. She doesn’t let them scare her, but one day she finds she will have to travel on one of them, an aeroplane, to begin a new life in “a distant land far, far away”.

Promotes immigration, thinkers, self-reflection and courage.

The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake

A young boy is bored and can’t think of what he wants to do. His mother can’t (or won’t help) so the boy begins to wonder why he is bored in the first place. Translated from Japanese this book promotes asking questions and deep thinking.

The Boy and the Sea by Camille Andros

Sat on a beach, a young boy stares out at the sea, thinking and asking questions. As he grows, his questions become more complex, but he still returns to the sea for answers, and to take the time to pause and think.

Use to discuss asking questions, curiosity, perspectives, setting and making connections.

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Three children use their imagination to create real-life objects after finding magic chalk. This wordless picture book promotes creativity, friendship, responsible decision-making, creative thinking, problem-solving and retelling.

Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars by Laurie Wallmark

Elizebeth Smith Friedman changed code-breaking forever with her intelligence, analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. She established code-breaking techniques and strategies that help capture spies and break the most complex of codes during WWI and WWII.

Use this biography in the classroom to explore gender roles and inspiring women in STEM.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales recalls her own experiences of migrating from Mexico to America with her young son. They face many cultural challenges, including learning a new language and new customs. Her local library offers an opportunity to learn about this strange, new country and find a new career.

Read to discuss determination, resilience, independence, courage and hope.

Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams

Kondi’s determination helps him make a galimoto (toy vehicle made of wires) despite others laughing at his idea. Set in Malawi, this book reinforces the themes of determination, perseverance, recycling and creative thinking.

The Girl Who Thought In Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca

No one expected Temple Grandin to be able to talk after being diagnosed with autism. But her ability as a visual thinker helped her connect with animals and invent groundbreaking improvements for the farming industry.

This biography promotes women in science, problem-solving, creative thinking and inquiry.

Going Places by Peter H Reynolds

The Going Places contest involves building a go-kart and racing it, but Maya has a different idea. Her curiosity and open-mind help her find a unique way to cross the finish line.

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood

A loving mother saves her seven children (names after the days of the week) from an evil witch. The witch, Heckedy Peg, turns the children into food and takes them to her home, a cave. The mother tricks the witch into giving her the children back.

Promotes discussions on caring, disobedience, creative thinking, and prediction.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures tells the inspirational story of four black women who worked at NASA in the 1940s. Their intelligence and determination changed the world by putting a man on the moon.

A powerful picture book to promote gender roles, tolerance, inquirers and perseverance.

How the Ladies Stopped the Wind by Bruce McMillan

The wind in Iceland is so strong a group of women decide to fix the problem. They plant trees to limit its effects and overcome any problems through problem-solving, cooperation and persistence.

I am Henry Finch by Alexis Deacon

Henry Finch and his family live in constant fear of a green beast. Confronting the beast Henry is promptly eaten. Inside, Henry hears its thoughts and realises that not everything is always as it seems. Reinforces themes of courage, individuality, perspective and thinkers.

Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones

Izzy Gizmo is an inventor but her inventions didn’t always work as expected causing Izzy to get cross and quit. But her Grandpa’s advice of not giving up helps her continue her work.

Read to promote a growth mindset, inquiry, perseverance and self-management.

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon

A wild wind turns everything upside down for a man living on top of a hill. Kate solves his problem by planting trees and protecting the man’s home from the howling winds.

Last: The Story of a White Rhino by Nicola Davies

Sudan, a white rhino, lives in a gray, city zoo in the Czech Republic. It remembers his life before its captivity, including his mother and the smell of the earth and rain. Sudan believes he is the last white rhino. When he is rescued and released back into the wild, Sudan discovers there are more like him and he is no longer alone.

Read to start discussions on conservation, freedom, extinction and hope.

The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter

When war comes to Iraq, librarian Alia Muhammad Baker worries about her library and its books. With the help of the community, she starts to move the books to her own home. Through Alia’s courage and perseverance, much of the library collection is saved before the library burns down.

Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains by Barbara Knutson

Cuy the Guinea Pig is searching the Andes Mountains for wild spinach, just as Tío Antonio the Fox comes searching for Cuy to eat. The guinea pig outwits the fox with its clever thinking and escapes.

Magic Ramen Story by Momofuku Ando

Following World War II, Momofuku Ando invents a convenient and tasty ramen noodle soup. This biography shows Ando’s many experiments, persistence and creativity before perfecting the recipe.

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

This biography is about inventor George Ferris and how he turned his creative vision into the gravity-defying Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World’s Fair.

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

An ordinary stick becomes extraordinary with a bit of creativity. A young pig finds there are unlimited possibilities with the power of his imagination. Promotes open-mindedness and creative thinking.

On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne

A boy with a brilliant mind imagines evolutionary ideas. This boy grows into Albert Einstein who revolutionised our understanding of the universe.

This biography promotes science, creativity, inventions, perseverance, questioning and curiosity.

Our Little Inventor by Sher Rill Ng

Nell has an ingenious invention to solve the pollution problem in the Big City. She sets off on a journey to the city, far from where she lives. She finds the pollution is much worse than she expected. Nell is dismayed when she is mocked by city leaders. With unexpected help and Nell’s determination, she shows her machine to the city.

Promotes girls in STEM, pollution, determination, perseverance, critical thinking and problem-solving.

Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

Papa is a persistent inventor, though he has had little success in making anything that works. A family trip to Lake Michigan sparks an idea that ends with him creating a submarine the family can use. Based on a true story.

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke

A young girl and her two brothers make a patchwork bike out of discarded materials. They race in and around their village, whooping and laughing. 

Promotes discussions on poverty, creativity, recycling, and creative thinking.

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin

Rapunzel, trapped by a witch, lives in a tall tower only accessible by her long hair. Unafraid, she fashions her hair into a ladder and escapes. Once in the forest, she thinks about how she can defeat the witch. When the witch returns she uses the golden flowing locks to leave through the window. Rapunzel quickly cuts off her own hair and the witch falls to her demise.

Running Shoes by Frederick Lipp

Sophy lives in a poor Cambodian village. Her dream of going to school is realised when she receives a pair of running shoes.

This book reinforces themes of determination, perseverance, following our dreams, poverty and education.

Sarabella's Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner

Sarabella’s active imagination means she often has a hard time paying attention in class. An understanding teacher sets homework that allows her to express who she is and celebrate her unique learning style and her creative thinking.

The Stone Giant by Anna Höglund

A young girl is left alone when her father leaves to fight a giant who turns everything to stone. Determined, she sets out to find him armed with a knife, a mirror and a plan. With the help of an elderly lady and an umbrella, she outwits the giant, saving her father and all those who had turned into stone. Translated from Swedish.

Read to discuss independence, courage, creative thinking, problem-solving and strong female lead characters.

That Fruit is Mine! by Anuska Allepuz

Five elephants discover a very tall fruit tree deep in the jungle. They compete with each other to see who can reach the exotic fruit first. Their focus on being the first means they don’t notice a team of mice working together to reach the fruit first. But they soon realise that teamwork and communication is a better way to reach their prize.

The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

A curious elephant finds a mysterious red object, but it has no idea what it is. His friends can’t help, so the elephant starts experimenting. When the rain begins to fall he finds a great use for the ‘thingamabob’; as an umbrella.

Read to starts discussions on inference, prediction, problem-solving, curiosity, creative thinkers, asking questions and inquiry.

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas

Three little wolves head out into the world to build new study homes. But these houses are no match for the big bad pig. The wolves have to be innovative to outwit the pig.

Use to compare and contrast with other versions of the Three Little Pigs and discuss creative thinking, bullying, different points of view, and forgiveness.

Tom's Magnificent Machines by Linda Sarah

Tim and his dad love to create inventions together. When his dad loses his job, and the family loses everything in a storm, Tom comes up with a creative plan to help themselves rise above disaster.

Read to discuss overcoming adversity, resilience, teamwork, creative thinking and perseverance.

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

Told in Haiku, Wabi Sabi sets off on a journey to find out the meaning of her name and her identity. She discovers that wabi sabi is a Japanese philosophy of seeing beauty in simplicity.

Read to discuss inquirers, reflection and thinkers.

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

When a boy finds a mysterious aeroplane he takes it for a ride, which doesn’t go quite as planned. He flies upwards until he runs out of petrol and lands on the moon. He meets a marooned alien and they work together to return to their homes.

Read to discuss being caring, cooperation, and creative thinking.

Weirdo by Zadie Smith & Nick Laird

Maud, a judo suit-wearing guinea pig, is given as a surprise birthday present to Kit. Left alone in her new home she meets the other pets, who do not approve of ‘the Surprise’. The guinea pig is lucky enough to meet neighbour, Emily Brookstein, who tells Maud it is great to be different and she should embrace who she is.

Use in the classroom to discuss courage, open-mindedness, individuality, and identity.

What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada

Discover how one great idea can grow and spread around the world. Inspire children to have confidence in their ideas as you never know what can happen!

Reinforces themes of brainstorming, confidence, growth mindset, inspiration, self-esteem and creativity.

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter

Born in Iraq, Zaha Hadid dreamed of designing great cities. Moving to London, she trained as an architect and started to design buildings. She overcame many difficulties, including the fact she was Muslim and a woman. Her legacy lives on in her buildings, inspired by nature, around the world.

Read to promote discussions on overcoming adversity, racism, STEM, following your dreams, determination, resilience and creative thinking.

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What Next?

Do you have any favourite picture books that you use to support critical thinkers and problem-solvers in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below! 

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Picture Books for Creative Thinkers & Problem-Solvers

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