To print a CCBC booklist, click on a list below and then use your browser’s “Print” command. You can also select books from one or more booklists to create a custom list, which can also include books from the CCBC-Recommended Book Search.

< Back to booklists

Never Too Old: Picture Books to Share with Older Children and Teens

©2023, 2007 Cooperative Children's Book Center

Compiled by Merri Lindgren and Megan Schliesman

Think picture books are just for young children? Think again! Some picture books are created with an older audience in mind. Others embody a level of sophistication in the text or art that offers intrigue for older children and/or teens even as they also appeal to a younger audience. Still others offer outrageous humor that can be enjoyed by readers of many ages.

This bibliography is not exhaustive, but is meant to introduce some titles for sharing with older children and teens, and to encourage thinking about ways picture books can be incorporated into the curriculum. While a number of titles have application and appeal in more than one way, they have been placed in one of the following categories:

  • Visualize This: Books about the Arts
  • Notes on a Page: Books about Music
  • Into the Past: Books about History
  • Theories and Revelations: Books about Math and Science
  • Challenges and Change: Stories of Politics, Identity, and Understanding
  • Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor

The books on the list are all in a picture book format and are generally 40 pages or fewer in length. The age recommendations listed for each book were made when promoting their general use, and do not necessarily reflect the older child/teen focus of this bibliography.

Visualize This: Books about the Arts

Alexander, Kwame How to Read a Book. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Harper/HarperCollins, 2019. 32 pages. Ages 7-11

Barton, Chris Glitter Everywhere! Where It Came From, Where It's Found & Where It's Going. Illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat. Charlesbridge, 2023. 48 pages. Ages 6-10

Chang, Rosa My Indigo World: A True Story of the Color Blue. Illustrated by Rosa Chang. Astra/Minedition, 2023. 38 pages. Ages 5-9

Leung, Julie Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist. Illustrated by Chris Sasaki. Random House/Schwartz & Wade, 2019. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Luyken, Corinna The Book of Mistakes. Illustrated by Corinna Luyken. Dial, 2017. 48 pages. Ages 7-11

McCarthy, Meghan Action! How Movies Began. Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2022. 48 pages. Ages 7-11

Rosenstock, Barb The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, a Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art. Illustrated by Claire A. Nivola. Candlewick, 2018. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

Steptoe, Javaka Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Little, Brown, 2016. 40 pages. Ages 7-11

Stinson, Kathy A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis. Illustrated by Lauren Soloy. Greystone, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

Todd, Traci N. Holding Her Own: The Exceptional Life of Jackie Ormes. Illustrated by Shannon Wright. Orchard/Scholastic, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 8-12

Tonatiuh, Duncan Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams, 2015. 40 pages. Ages 8-12

Turk, Evan To See Clearly: A Portrait of David Hockney. Illustrated by Evan Turk. Abrams, 2023. 48 pages. Ages 8-11

Van Vleet, Carmella and Chiquita Mullins Lee You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce! The Storied Life of Folk Artist Elijah Pierce. Illustrated by Jennifer Mack-Watkins. Kokila/Penguin Random House, 2023. 38 pages. Ages 7-11

Wallace, Sandra Neil Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2018. 40 pages. Ages 7-11

Notes on a Page: Books about Music

Ellis, Sarah As Glenn as Can Be. Illustrated by Nancy Vo. Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2022. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

Golio, Gary Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World. Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. Henry Holt, 2018. 32 pages. Ages 7-11

Golio, Gary Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey. Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. 40 pages. Ages 9-14

Golio, Gary Bird & Diz. Illustrated by Ed Young. Candlewick, 2015. 24 pages. Age 8 and older

Krull, Kathleen and Paul Brewer The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny). Illustrated by Stacy Innerst. Harcourt /Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 32 pages. Ages 7-10

Myers, Walter Dean Jazz. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Holiday House, 2006. 44 pages. Age 10 and older

Neri, G. Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. Illustrated by AG Ford. Candlewick, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 9-14

Raschka, Chris The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Candlewick, 2014. 36 pages. Ages 6-10

Robertson, Sebastian Rock & Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 9-13

Into the Past: Books about History

Bryant, Jen Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Abrams, 2020. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

Fletcher, Susan A Bear Far from Home. Illustrated by Rebecca Green. Anne Schwartz Book/Random House, 2022. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

Janicki, Peggy The Secret Pocket. Illustrated by Carrielynn Victor. Orca, 2023. 30 pages. Ages 6-9

Joy, Angela Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement. Illustrated by Janelle Washington. Roaring Brook, 2022. 56 pages. Ages 8-12

Litvina, Alexandra The Apartment: A Century of Russian History. Illustrated by Anna Desnitskaya. Translated by Antonina W. Bouis. Abrams, 2019. Ages 9-13

McCarthy, Meghan All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff. Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2018. 48 pages. Ages 7-10

Moss, Marissa The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pinkerton Saved President Lincoln. Illustrated by Jeremy Holmes. Abrams, 2018. 47 pages. Ages 8-11

Newman, Patricia A River's Gifts: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn. Illustrated by Natasha Donovan. Lerner/Millbrook, 2022. 50 pages. Ages 8-12

Sutcliffe, Jane Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk. Illustrated by John Shelley. Charlesbridge, 2016. 40 pages. Ages 8-14

Tokuda-Hall, Maggie Love in the Library. Illustrated by Yas Imamura. Candlewick, 2022. 32 pages. Age 8 and older

Weatherford, Carole Boston Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. Illustrated by Michele Wood. Candlewick, 2020. 56 pages. Age 10 and older

Theories and Revelations: Books about Math and Science

Brown, Monica Sharuko: Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello = El arqueologo Peruano Julio C. Tello. Illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. Children's Book Press/Lee & Low, 2020. 32 pages. Ages 7-10

Chin, Jason The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey. Illustrated by Jason Chin. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2022. 40 pages. Ages 8-11

Fisher, Lalena Friends Beyond Measure: A Story Told with Infographics. Illustrated by Lalena Fisher. Harper/HarperCollins, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

Larson, Kirsten W. The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of. Illustrated by Katherine Roy. Chronicle, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 8-12

Mangal, Melina The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just. Illustrated by Luisa Uribe. Lerner/Millbrook, 2018. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

Manley, Curtis Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. Illustrated by Jessica Lanan. Roaring Brook, 2019. 40 pages. Ages 7-11

Rockliff, Mara Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Candlewick, 2015. 45 pages. Ages 8-12

Schmalzer, Sigrid Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming. Illustrated by Melanie Linden Chan. Tilbury House, 2018. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

Sis, Peter The Tree of Life: A Book Depicting the Life of Charles Darwin: Naturalist, Geologist, & Thinker. Illustrated by Peter Sis. Farrar Straus Giroux/Frances Foster Books, 2003. 32 pages. Age 10 and older

Stremer, Jessica Great Carrier Reef. Illustrated by Gordy Wright. Holiday House, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

Thomas, Isabel Moth: An Evolution Story. Illustrated by Daniel Egneus. Bloomsbury, 2019. 48 pages. Ages 6-9

Challenges and Change: Stories of Politics, Identity, and Understanding

Alexander, Kwame The Undefeated. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Versify, 2019. 40 pages. Age 8 and older

Ali, S. K. and Ibtihaj Muhammad The Proudest Blue. Illustrated by Hatem Aly. Little, Brown, 2019. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

de la Pena, Matt Milo Imagines the World. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. Penguin Random House/Putnam, 2021. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

Erdrich, Louise The Range Eternal. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. University of Minnesota Press, 2020. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Gopal, Jyoti Rajan Desert Queen. Illustrated by Svabhu Kohli. Levine Querido, 2023. 48 pages. Age 10 and older

Grimes, Nikki A Walk in the Woods. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

Palmer, Charly The Legend of Gravity: A Tall Basketball Tale. Illustrated by Charly Palmer. Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan, 2022. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

Parra, John Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son. Illustrated by John Parra. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2022. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Peoples-Riley, Daria America, My Love, America, My Heart. Illustrated by Daria Peoples-Riley. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2021. 32 pages. Age 8 and older

Prevo, Patty Cisneros Tenacious: Fifteen Adventures Alongside Disabled Athletes. Illustrated by Dion MBD. Lee & Low, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

Shiraishi, Ashima How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion. Illustrated by Yao Xiao. Make Me A World/Random House, 2020. 32 pages. Ages 7-10

Sorell, Traci At the Mountain's Base. Illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre. Kokila/Penguin Random House, 2019. 24 pages. Ages 5-9

Tonatiuh, Duncan Undocumented: A Worker's Fight. Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh. Abrams/Abrams ComicArts, 2018. 24 pages. Age 12 and older

Wong, Jack The Words We Share. Illustrated by Jack Wong. Annick, 2023. 40 pages. Ages 5-10

Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor

Bell, Cece I Yam a Donkey!. Illustrated by Cece Bell. Clarion, 2015. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

Cummins, Lucy Ruth A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals. Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Atheneum, 2016. 36 pages. Ages 4-8

Elya, Susan Middleton Little Roja Riding Hood. Illustrated by Susan Guevara. Putnam, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Fontenaille, Elise At the Drop of a Cat. Illustrated by Violeta Lopiz. Enchanted Lion, 2023. 28 pages. Ages 4-8

Forsythe, Matthew Mina. Illustrated by Matthew Forsythe. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2022. 60 pages. Ages 3-8

Gehl, Laura I Got a Chicken for My Birthday. Illustrated by Sarah Horne. Carolrhoda, 2018. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Myers, Christopher H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Egmont, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 5-10

Myers, Christopher and Zora Neale Hurston Lies and Other Tall Tales. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. HarperCollins, 2005. 40 pages. Age 10 and older

Offill, Jenny Sparky!. Illustrated by Chris Appelhans. Schwartz & Wade, 2014. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Wagh, Jennifer Eggasaurus. Illustrated by Hallie Bateman. Simon & Schuster, 2022. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

Wenzel, Brendan They All Saw a Cat. Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. Chronicle, 2016. 36 pages. Ages 4-8

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Our Recommended Book Search includes subject access to CCBC-recommended titles based on subject headings created by our staff.