5 of the Most Beautifully Illustrated Children’s Books

CITATION: “© [lordn] / Adobe Stock”

When we’re young, we may not necessarily remember books based on their words. However, we’re certain to remember them for their illustrations. We recognize five of the most beautifully illustrated children’s books available today.

A House That Once Was

Author: Julie Fogliano; Illustrator: Lane Smith

A New York Times Best Illustrated Book and a Boston Globe Best Children’s Book of 2018, A House That Once Was tells a playful story. A boy and a girl explore an abandoned house and, using clues, discover who might have lived there previously. Smith illustrates the book using a wide range of media, including ink and paint. This book is a must-read for curious, imaginative souls who love art, adventure, and language.


Author and Illustrator: Anna Walker

Inspired by Parisian greenery and streets, Florette offers a powerful message to young children—adapting to a new place takes time. When Mae’s family first moves from the countryside to the city, she feels sad knowing she has left her garden behind. However, after discovering a city park and a florist’s shop window, Mae soon realizes that there may be room for her garden after all.

The thoughtful watercolor illustrations effectively capture nature’s beauty. Children (and even adults) will enjoy the detailed birds and animals that appear throughout the story. Florette is a 2018 New York Times and New York Public Library Best Illustrated Picture Book. It’s also a 2018 Boston Globe Best Children’s Book of the Year.

The Rainbow Fish

Author and Illustrator: Marcus Pfister

Although this children’s book is over 20 years old, it’s an adored classic. The Rainbow Fish acknowledges individuality and teaches children to embrace their quirks. Additionally, the book conveys putting others before ourselves; the Rainbow Fish shared his special scales with the rest of the fish, feeling happier with each one that he would give away.

The cool-colored illustrations are soothing, and the fish’s iridescent foil scales keep kids’ attention. The Rainbow Fish is an international best-seller.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Author and Illustrator: Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar features, well, a very hungry caterpillar. The book teaches children about counting, the days of the week, and metamorphosis.

While originally published in the late 60s, Carle’s art is recognizable by people of all ages. Plus, not only is the book loved for its vivid pictures, but also for its interactive die cuts. It’s also easy for children to replicate the pages’ collage illustrations. Distributors have sold millions of copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar all over the world as it remains one of the most beautifully illustrated children’s books of our time.

Where the Wild Things Are

Author and Illustrator: Maurice Sendak

After disrupting his household, young Max’s parents send him to his room without supper. He’s suddenly transported to a jungle and decides to sail to an island occupied by large beasts. The “Wild Things” crown him as their king; however, after a while, Max becomes lonely. He agrees to return home, where a hot meal is waiting for him.

Although the book is over 50 years old, the colorful, detailed illustrations of Where the Wild Things Are makes it a childhood favorite.

This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from and other Amazon websites.

Written by Logan Voss


Leave a Reply
  1. You missed the Wood and Wood books that are beautifully done:
    King Bidgood is in the Bathtub
    The Napping House
    Heckety Peg

  2. My family is always looking for beautifully illustrated picture books. It helps when my husband and I read aloud to our children when they have something really engaging to look at. I have to recommend a book *second in the series* about Michael and his dog, Doug. It’s called “D-Pug in New York” by Janie Nugent. The book has absolutely fantastic illustrations and really promotes the importance of friendship, teamwork and community. Not only that it is great for any family looking to adopt a pet and the importance of looking at rescue animals. It’s a really special series and I think it would fit in very well with this list. You can read more about it on the author’s website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.