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.
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:
- Evaluating information and making reasoned decisions
- Self-reflecting on strengths and weaknesses
- Analysing ideas and making connections
- Asking questions, testing theories, and making changes
- Developing self-monitoring skills
- Considering other perspectives
- Making more analytical decisions
- Becoming an effective communicator and collaborator
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
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Picture Books about Thinking and Problem-Solving
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
How the Ladies Stopped the Wind by Bruce McMillan
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tom's Magnificent Machines by Linda Sarah
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.
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.
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.
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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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