24 Best Children’s Books for Future Designers and Creatives

Books can be unbeatable creative inspiration— but have you ever considered that some of the most beautiful books are made for children? Well, It’s never too early to get them started.

We’ve previously shared our list of essential books for graphic designers and what Shillington teachers have in their own personal libraries, but this time around we have dug in to the depths of both our memories and our parents’ attics and done some fresh research to find some of our favourite children’s books. From graphic designers and illustrators the world over, these are the ones that had a profound effect on our creative futures and careers. Why not buy some for your own kids? They’re sure to inspire your little ones—and you!

1. Round, Square, Triangle by Dick Bruna

Best known for his Miffy books, much-loved Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna published over 200 books during his career, including this adorable exploration of how shapes appear in everyday life—from round plates to square picture frames.

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2. My Modern House by Charlotte Trounce

Charlotte Trounce‘s activity book is packed with stickers, drawing and colour activities to help a Lil’ Corbusier design their own make believe modern house. Inspiration comes in the form of modernist marvels London’s Barbican Estate, Kyoto’s Face House and others.

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3. Madame Sonia Delaunay by Gérard Lo Monaco

This wonderful book by paper engineer Gérard Lo Monaco reinterprets the textiles, paintings and designs of the Ukrainian-born French artist, Sonia Delaunay, as playful pop-up illustrations. It was published for the artist’s retrospective in Paris in 2014.

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4. I Numeri by Luigi Veronesi

Published way back in 1945, this art project meets children book by Italian artist Luigi Veronesi teaches children to read whilst simultaneously exploring a journey from concrete to abstract that reveals itself throughout the pages—this is definitely one that is as much for parents as it is for kids. Makes a beautiful pair with Veronesi’s other book I Colori.

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5. Where’s Your Creativity? by Marika Maijala

As designers, we know that creativity can come from infinite places and this charmingly illustrated book by Finnish illustrator Marika Maijala confirms that. It looks outside the box and explores the ways that creative kids can express themselves—through dance, food and music, to name just a few.

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6. Shapes, Colours, Numbers by Dario Zeruto

Gorgeously minimal in its design, this book by Cuban artist Dario Zeruto encourages learning through opening and closing flaps to see how colours and shapes you can find. Then the play begins and the flaps can be used to create your own design. Stylish and simple.

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7. 123, A Book to See by William Wondriska

In a limited palette of black and red, this wordless story uses simple illustrations of everyday objects to make otherwise abstract numbers tangible. Wondriska, who studied at Yale and the Art Institute of Chicago, published eleven childrens’ books alongside his promo design and advertising work.

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8. Ini-Minimalism 1 by Eva Dijkstra

Minimalism for mini people. Colour and shapes unfold to reveal a geometric critter hiding away in this intelligent and appealing introduction to design, geometry, abstraction, colour and minimalism by Dutch designer and co-founder of Toko Studio, Eva Dijkstra.

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9. My First Book of Patterns by Boyoun Kim

A candy-hued dream of polka dots, harlequin, stripes and chevrons, Korean freelance illustrator Boyoun Kim‘s book is the first-ever pattern concept book for kids! It teaches the ten most common patterns, first as a single element and then as a pattern—for example, circles and polka dots.

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10. Blind Mice and Other Numbers by Ivan Chermayeff

Glorious illustrations and a handsome typeface paired with puns, tongue-twisters and linguistic somersaults must be the best way to learn to count to ten. Lightheartedness and a dash of nonsense makes this book, by the celebrated American designer Ivan Chermayeff, a must have.

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11. My First Shapes with Frank Lloyd Wright by Lydia Ortiz

Ever wished that legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright had taught you shapes? Well now all your modernist dreams can come true! Filipino designer Lydia Ortiz has created this brilliant book that teaches the basic shapes, circles, squares, and triangles, through the basic geometric shapes that Lloyd Wright used in his buildings.

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12. I Know a Lot of Things by Ann & Paul Rand

Remember that childhood delight of learning something new? Husband and wife team Ann and Paul Rand have immortalised that feeling in this book—which celebrates a child’s possession of new and exciting knowledge through playful illustration and endearingly childlike writing.

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13. Now Make This by Thomas Bärnthaller

Something a bit different, this book details 24 DIY projects for kids written and developed by a range of designers from different disciplines, such as toy designer Floris Hovers and Ladies and Gentlemen Studio. It may be the best way to get children making world-class design right in their own home—and hopefully inspiring them to take up the design gauntlet themselves!

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14. We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu

Japanese illustrator Yusuke Yonezu has created this delightful book that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! Through bold, colourful illustrations of cats, elephants, turtles, rabbits and more, he explores love and togetherness—a wholesome lesson we could all learn, not just kids.

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15. Supposing… by Bob Gill

From legendary designer, and former Shillington New York guest lecturer, Bob Gill comes Supposing…, a beautifully illustrated version of Alastair Reid‘s 1960 poem. Gill’s illustrations are hand drawn and fantastically scribbly, with the occasional dash of colour. This would be a great addition to anyone’s bookshelf, regardless of age.

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16. Alexander Girard Colouring Book by Gloria Fowler

Alexander Girard, who you may know as Sandro, was an architect and interior, industrial, furniture and textile designer. This lovely colouring book allows children to put themselves into the shoes of the influential designer as they create their own colourful designs from Girard’s line drawing.

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17. Round and Round and Square by Fredun Shapur

Proof that a whole imaginary word can be created through a circle and square, this book by British postwar designer Fredun Shapur opens up the possibilities of visual expression! Even though it was published 53 years ago, it will still open the eyes of young readers.

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18. As Time Passes by Madalena Matoso

Times passes but beautiful illustrations live forever. Part of Portuguese studio Planeta Tangerina, which specialises in communication design for children, Madalena Matoso’s book reflects on the passing of time and how the changes it brings are inevitable. A timeless book with a poignant message.

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19. Who Built That? Modern Houses by Didier Cornille

Get your kids ready to be dragged around the modernist tourist spots on your next holiday! This 2014 book by Didier Cornille introduces the children to architects, their concepts and their most important buildings through engaging drawings and easy to understand text. It might be good for your modernist-phobic friends too…

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20. ABC by Bruno Munari

Italian artist-designer Bruno Munari has some serious fun with the alphabet! Hand-painted illustrations accompany fanciful phrases—from an Ant on an Apple to a fly the buzzes throughout the book and provides the final Zzzzz—creating an alluring journey through the ABCs.

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21. Art Play by Marion Deuchars

Bring out the artist in any child! This engaging activity book by British illustrator and author Marion Deuchars covers drawing, colour, shapes, paint, paper, printing and pattern to play with art like never before— with gorgeous illustrations, lettering, collages and more to boot.

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22. Ready, Set, Build! by Jarvis & Meg Fleming

Award-winning illustrator Jarvis brings to life the story of Dog and Bird as they try to build a house together. Through rhyme and colourful illustrations, this book guides budding architects on the ins-and-outs of building a house—from sketching plans to clearing the rubble, with some health and safety warnings thrown in.

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23. Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System by Dr Dominic Walliman & Ben Newman

What better way to learn about our planet, solar system and universe than from a canny cat? How about this book featuring amazing graphics by UK-based freelancer Ben Newman, and some knowledge from his friend and scientist Dr Dominic Walliman? We can’t think of anything better.

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24. Facts! by Fatti Burke

Ever wondered what a parrotfish does before it sleeps? Or what the Romans used to brush their teeth? Quench that thirst for knowledge with this fantastic book of facts, featuring magical illustrations by Irish children’s book illustrator Fatti Burke.

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Have these beautiful children’s books inspired you? It’s never too late to learn. Find out more about kickstarting your creative career at Shillington! Become a designer in 3 months full-time or 9 months part-time in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane –> www.shillingtoneducation.com

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