Picture Books for Older Readers

While we often think of picture books as being for young children, this format has a lot to offer for older readers as well. Picture books for older readers often explore complex ideas or leave lots of room for the reader’s interpretation. Here are some of our favourites that are best enjoyed by older kids, teens, and even adults. 

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken is a playful look at how our mistakes can lead to new ideas. Through detailed and quirky illustrations, watch as an eye drawn too big or an ink blot are transformed into something beautiful and unique. 

What Do You Do with an Idea? by Kobi Yamada is another inspirational book about creativity. An idea takes physical form in the illustrations and follows a child, who then needs to figure out what to do with it. While the child goes through phases of trying to ignore it, becoming friends with it, and being afraid to share it, we see how the idea grows and changes.

For an absurd and funny story, try The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman. A boy is so impressed by his friend’s new goldfish that he asks him to trade for his dad. When his mom finds out, she sends him and his little sister to retrieve their father, but it turns out he was swapped again, and again, and again…

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan is a list of rules that a boy learns over a summer spent with his older brother. The illustrations shine in this book, showing the two boys’ adventures and occasionally rocky relationship against the backdrop of a world filled with unusual creatures, from giant birds to mechanical beings. 

Flotsam by David Weisner shows how stories can be told through pictures. In this wordless picture book, a boy finds an old underwater camera that has washed ashore and gets the pictures developed, giving us a glimpse into the camera’s journey.

The Eleventh Hour by Graeme Base draws readers into the illustrations and story with a mystery to solve. Horace the elephant has created a magnificent banquet for his birthday, but after games with his guests, they arrive at the banquet hall to find the food gone. The reader is challenged to search the pages’ intricate illustrations for clues to discover the culprit.