Picture Books for Creative Thinkers & Problem-Solvers

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

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.