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

Compiled by Megan Schliesman
© 2007 Cooperative Children's Book Center; updated annually.

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. It 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
• Seriously Surreal: Tales of (Im)possibility
• Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor
• All Cracked Up: Fractured Fairy Tales and Fables

The books on the list are all in a picture book format and are generally 40 pages or fewer in length. Some have shorter texts typical of most picture books, while others have more subtantive texts but are still fully illustrated. The age recommendations listed for each book do not necessarily reflect the older child/teen focus of this bibliography. They were based on recommendations made when promoting the books for general use. All of the books on this list have been selected for use with older children and teens in mind.

Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.
Complete list of CCBC bibliographies

Visualize This: Books about the Arts

    Knapp, Ruthie. Who Stole Mona Lisa?. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry. Bloomsbury, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 7 - 12

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

    Novesky, Amy. Me, Frida. Illustrated by David Diaz. Abrams, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 7 - 12

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

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

    Tonatiuh, Duncan. Diego Rivera: His World and Ours. Abrams, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

    Wiesner, David. Art & Max. Clarion, 2010. 40 pages. Ages 5 - 8

    Winter, Jonah. Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude. Illustrated by Calef Brown. Atheneum, 2009. 40 pages. Ages 4 - 16

    Winter, Jonah. Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Arthur A. Levine Books , 2012. 48 pages. Ages 6–10

Notes on a Page: Books about Music

    Celenza, Anna Harwell. Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. Illustrated by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

    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 Press, 2015. 24 pages. Age 8 and older

    Greenberg, Jan and Sandra Jordan . Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring. Illustrated by Brian Floca. A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, 2010. 48 pages. Ages 7 - 11

    Krull, Kathleen and Paul Brewer . The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny). Illustrated by Stacey Innerst. 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 A. G. Ford. Candlewick Press, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 9-14

    Raschka, Chris. The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening. Candlewick Press, 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

    Snicket, Lemony and Music by Nathaniel Stookey . The Composer is Dead. Illustrated by Carson Ellis. HarperCollins, 2009. 40 pages. Ages 8-15

Into the Past: Books about History

    Asim, Jabari. Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Little, Brown, 2012. 40 pages. Ages 5–9

    Barton, Chris. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. Illustrated by Don Tate. Eerdmans, 2015. 48 pages. Ages 7–10

    Corey, Shana. The Secret Subway. Illustrated by Red Nose Studio. Schwartz & Wade, 2016. 32 pages. Ages 7-11

    Coy, John. Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball. Illustrated by Joe Morse. Carolrhoda, 2013. 36 pages. Ages 7-11

    Hamilton, Virginia . The People Could Fly : The Picture Book . Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 5-12

    Kalman, Maira. Looking at Lincoln. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2012. 40 pages. Ages 7–10

    Kerley, Barbara. Those Rebels, John & Tom. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic Press, 2012. 48 pages. Ages 6–9

    Lawrence, Jacob. The Great Migration: An American Story. HarperCollins, 1993. 48 pages. Ages 9 and older

    McCarthy, Meghan. Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs. A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster, 2015. 40 pages. Ages 6–9

    Miller, Pat. The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

    Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda, 2015. 36 pages. Age 8 and older

    Schwartz, Joanne. Town Is by the Sea. Illustrated by Sydney Smith. Groundwood, 2017. 48 pages. Ages 6-9

    St. George, Judith. So You Want to Be President?. Illustrated by David Small. Philomel, 2000. 52 pages. Ages 7 - 12

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

    Van Allsburg, Chris. Queen of the Falls. Houghton Mifflin, 2011. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

    Wild, Margaret. The Dream of the Thylacine. Illustrated by Ron Brooks. U.S. edition: Allen & Unwin, 2013. 32 pages. Ages 9 and older

    Young, Ed . The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China. Little, Brown, 2011. 48 pages. Ages 7-14

Theories and Revelations: Books about Math and Science

    Barton, Chris. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. Illustrated by Don Tate. Charlesbridge, 2016. 32 pages. 6-11

    Holub, Joan. Zero the Hero. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Henry Holt, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 7–10

    Love, D. Anne. Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia. Illustrated by Pam Paperone. Holiday House, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

    Markel, Michelle. Tyrannosaurus Math. Illustrated by Doug Cushman. Tricycle Press, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 9

    Meltzer, Brad. I Am Albert Einstein. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Dial, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 7-10

    Reynolds, Aaron. Superhero School. Illustrated by Andy Rash. Bloomsbury, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 6 -10

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

    Sis, Peter. The Tree of Life: A Book Depicting the Life of Charles Darwin: Naturalist, Geologist, & Thinker. Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. 32 pages. Ages 10 - 16

    Wiesner, David. June 29, 1999. Clarion, 1992. 32 pages. 4-9

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

    Buitrago, Jairo. Two White Rabbits. Translated by Elisa Amado from the Spanish. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2015. 48 pages. Ages 5-12

    hooks, bell. skin again. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Hyperion, 2004. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 10

    Myers, Walter Dean. Looking Like Me. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Egmont, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 5 - 9

    Rosen, Michael. Michael Rosen's Sad Book . Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Candlewick Press, 2005. 32 pages. Ages 6-15

    Rumford, James. Silent Music: A Story of Bagdhad. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2008. 32 pages. Ages 7-9

    Shange, Ntozake. We Troubled the Waters. Illustrated by Rod Brown. Amistad / Collins / HarperCollins, 2009. 32 pages. Age 13 and older

    Sís, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. 48 pages. Age 9 and older

    Tonatiuh, Duncan. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation.. Abrams, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 6-10

    Winter, Jonah. Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Schwartz & Wade, 2015. 32 pages. Ages 7–10

Seriously Surreal: Tales of (Im)possibility

    Gaiman, Neil. The Wolves in the Walls. Illustrated by Dave McKean. HarperCollins, 2003. 56 pages. Ages 7 - 14

    Lehman, Barbara. Museum Trip. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 40 pages. Ages 6-9

    Tan, Shaun. The Arrival`. U.S. edition: Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2007. 128 pages. Age 10 and older

    Tan, Shaun. Rules of Summer. Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Inc., 2014. 48 pages. Ages 9-14

    Wiesner, David. Flotsam. Clarion, 2006. 40 pages. Ages 5-9

Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor

    Barnett, Mac. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Candlewick Press, 2014. 40 pages. Ages 4 and Older

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

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

    Fleischman, Paul. The Dunderheads. Illustrated by David Roberts. Candlewick Press, 2009. 54 pages. Age 8 and older

    Grey, Mini. Three By the Sea. U.S. edition: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 4-9

    Hurston, Zora Neale and Christopher Myers . Lies and Other Tall Tales. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. HarperCollins, 2005. 40 pages. Ages 10-15

    Kennedy, Anne Vittur. Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook. Candlewick Press, 2015. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

    Klassen, Jon. I Want My Hat Back. Candlewick Press, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 4-9

    Macaulay, David. Black and White. Houghton Mifflin, 1990. 32 pages. Ages 4-12

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

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

    Rodriguez, Béatrice. The Chicken Thief. U.S. edition: Enchanted Lion Books, 2010. 24 pages. Ages 4 - 8

    Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Exclamation Mark. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Scholastic Press, 2013. 48 pages. Ages 7-10

    Smith, Lane. It’s a Book. Roaring Brook Press, 2010. 32 pages. Age 7 and older

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

    Willis, Jeanne. Tadpole's Promise. Illustrated by Tony Ross. Atheneum, 2005. 28 pages. Ages 5-10

All Cracked Up: Fractured Fairy Tales and Fables

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

    Hartman, Bob. The Wolf Who Cried Boy. Illustrated by Tim Raglin. Putnam, 2002. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

    Palatini, Margie. The Cheese. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins, 2007. 32 pages. Ages 6-9

    Scieszka, Jon. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Illustrated by Lane Smith . Viking, 1999. 32 pages. Ages 7 - 11

    Scieszka, Jon. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. Illustrated by Lane Smith . Viking, 1992. 56 pages. 6-11

    Wiesner, David. The Three Pigs. Clarion, 2001. 40 pages. Ages 4 and older

    Willems, Mo. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Balzer + Bray, 2012. 32 pages. Ages 6-10

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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