Inspiring picture books make wonderful gifts

Picture books can make wonderful gifts–and not just for children. When a picture book is inspiring or has a positive message without being preachy, and at the same time is an entertaining story, well-written, and has beautiful artwork, it can make a reader feel good on a deep level. And that is a wonderful gift.

I love picture books that are inspiring. Here are a few of my favorite ones that I think would make lovely gifts:


Learning to Fly by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Kane/Miller Book Publishers (2006). ISBN: 192913293X

The narrator, a bearded man, finds a penguin who tells him he could fly—even though penguins can’t fly—until he met some other birds who told him he couldn’t. The penguin believed them, and stopped being able to fly.

The man takes the penguin home, and together they go through laugh-out-loud methods of trying to get the penguin flying again, from flying contraptions to shooting the penguin out of bow to fastening the penguin to a kite, none succeeding. Finally, a flock of penguins flies by, and the penguin realizes he really can fly.

This delightful book gives the reader important messages such as ‘believe in yourself, and you can do anything,’ and ‘listen to yourself, you know what you can do,’ in a humourous and entertaining way.

Read my review here.


Tudley Didn’t Know by John Himmelman
Sylvan Dell Publishing (May 2006)
ISBN-10: 0976494361, ISBN-13: 978-0976494362

Some of us limit ourselves by telling ourselves we can’t do something, or by listening to criticism before we even try. But Tudley is the opposite—he believes in himself so much, he doesn’t even question whether or not he can do something. He just does it. He accomplishes the impossible, because he doesn’t know he can’t. Tudley Didn’t Know is an inspiring, feel-good book about believing in yourself, and discovering what you can do if you don’t listen to criticism or doubt.

Read my review here.



Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Rob Gonsalves
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster (January 2005)
ISBN-10: 0689852193, ISBN-13: 978-0689852190

This book encourages the reader to imagine a day when she can do incredible, fantastical things, and that the world will respond in kind. The book is inspiring, encouraging the reader to believe in the good inside us all, and in the possibility of the human spirit and of magic. It also speaks to the wonder that children (and some adults) can see the world with.

You may have seen Gonsalves’ work on the web; his work is breathtakingly beautiful, incredibly creative. It’s just stunning. The cover of the book does not do it justice; get your hands on a copy!

Read my review here.



Tuesday by David Wiesner
Clarion Books (August 1997)
ISBN-10: 0395870828, ISBN-13: 978-0395870822

This wordless book is a wonderful, magical fantasy, with frogs that slowly rise up into the sky, riding lily pads one Tuesday night, and then come back down to earth by the morning–while pigs rise up and fly the next Tuesday. This book encourages readers to think that anything is possible and that magic exists. The artwork is so beautiful that it’s sure to inspire you. You can’t really get a feel for the beauty of the book by the cover. Trust me, it’s exceptional.



The Red Book (Caldecott Honor Book) by Barbara Lehman
by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2004. ISBN: 0618428585

This wordless fantasy is a delight to page through. Anyone who’s ever felt lonely and in need of a friend can identify with and enjoy this story. A lonely city girl discovers a red book in the snow, opens it up and sees first a map, then an island, and then another lonely child. Then that lonely boy discovers a red book in the sand, and opens it to see the city, then a building, and then the girl reading her red book. They both look up, startled, then happy, each book they hold reflecting the other.

This is a wonderful book about friendship, magic, and hope, and the power of books and imagination.

Read my review of it here.



Mama, If You Had a Wish by Jeanne Modesitt, illustrated by Robin Spowart
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster (1999). ISBN: 0689824122

This soothing book provides messages of unconditional love and acceptance. A little bunny keeps asking her mother if she should be different—not cry, not be scared, look different—and she quickly gets loving reassurances that she is just right the way she is, and that everyone cries or gets scared. The book is like a reassuring conversation directly to the reader.

Read my review of it here.


The Incredible Book-Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers
Penguin Group (April 2007)
ISBN-10: 0399247491, ISBN-13: 978-0399247491

I think this book is the perfect book for a book lover, young or old. It celebrates books and their power.

Henry loves books so much that he literally eats them. Just a single word, at first, then a page, then an entire book. He starts eating many books at once, and as he eats them, he becomes smarter, which he loves. But soon he’s eating too many, too fast, which makes him feel sick. All his knowledge starts to get jumbled up because he didn’t have time to digest it properly. So finally he opens up a book, and instead of eating it, he reads it–and discovers he loves reading. And that reading makes him smart, too. Just more slowly. The Incredible Book-Eating Boy is a wonderfully creative, fun, and humorous fantasy that encourages books and reading.
It’s the perfect gift for a book lover of any age. It makes me feel happy, reading it.

Read my review here.


There are so many more wonderful books, so many more of my favorites. Check out my picture book reviews to find more books that I love and highly recommend.

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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