Concept books — picture books centering on ideas like numbers, letters, and colors — can be tricky. So many seem to possess as much complexity and charm as this humorous example from comedian, Brian Regan:
“For some reason, we seem as a culture to think that precocious counting is more important than cultivating habits of thought like attentiveness, wonder, and eagerness to engage with ideas.”
All that said, there are plenty that evoke more thought, joy, and emotion than your run-of-the-mill concept book. If you’ve been searching for some recommendations that you’ll actually enjoy reading with your kids, this is the list for you!
Z is For Moose by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinksy
I couldn’t believe that the same artist who gave us the exquisitely illustrated Rapunzel brought this book to life. The playful and hilarious illustrations absolutely make this alphabet, and will have you rooting for Moose long before you reach Z.
Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers
As you would expect from Oliver Jeffers, each story is full of delightfully silly and surprising twists (I especially love the repeated appearances from certain characters…).
Doggies by Sandra Boynton
This is a counting book our whole family loves to read and listen to again and again — we all have our own way of making all the different woofs (I still think my “nnn…nnn…nnn…” is the best), and it never fails to bring smiles all around.
Press Here by Hervé Tullet and Christopher Franceschelli
A delightful and interactive composition that shares colors with a more unique approach.
Hippopposites by Janik Coat
Graphic design meets concept book here in a way that will keep kids (and you) turning pages to find out how else the author can picture a hippo!
The Turn-Around, Upside-Down Alphabet Book by Lisa Campbell Earnst
Always a fun book to handle and look at letters with new perspective.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
This hilarious story brings new perspective to the experiences of each color — from a crayon’s experience.
Antics! An Alphabetical Anthology by Cathi Hepworth
Though kids will almost certain know their letters long before they comprehend the word “Antics,” this is still one even older kids love visiting again and again.
One by Kathryn Otoshi
This beautiful story goes much deeper than simple numbers — it’s a fabulous read into bullying, friendship, and unity.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle
Is any list of concept books complete without Eric Carle? I don’t think my kids and I will ever tire from the bouncy rhythm of this book.
featured image: Tim Pierce