Unique Picture Books With Hidden Lessons to Teach Kids

Looking for stories that teach your child valuable life lessons without them even realizing it? Try reading these unique picture books with them!

Fiction Recommendations Young Readers

Children are not only capable but predisposed to understanding the world from the messages in the stories they read. These messages are often important life lessons that teach them how to treat others, how to understand their own bodies and minds, and even how to understand their existence in the vast universe they live in.

Most stories for children contain vivid images and quirky characters, who grab their attention and make it easier for parents to teach the important messages without losing the child’s interest. Here are seven children’s books that tell simple stories and have hidden meanings that teach important life lessons to kids.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Book cover showing large monster figure with horns and bare, human feet, sleeping against a tree on what appears to be an island. It is nighttime. Behind him is a river with a small sailboat.

Message: The temper tantrums that children have are just giant, wild, natural feelings and guess what? Adults have them too.  

This classic children’s book tells the story of Max, a young boy who dons his wolf suit and proceeds to wreak havoc on his house, prompting his mother to become angry and send him to bed without his supper. Up in his room, a journey occurs in which Max discovers a place where all the wild things live, and promptly becomes their leader. After wreaking havoc with them for a time, he realizes that he needs to tame them, and hypnotizes them all before sending them to bed without their supper. He then journeys back to his bedroom, where he discovers that his mother has left his supper for him, showing him her unconditional love.

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown

Book cover displaying an island covered in trees cast out into a vast sea on a sunny day. There is a sailboat with a small dark figure in it approaching the island.

Message: All elements in nature play an important role in the Earth’s ecosystem, no matter how small they seem.  

In this story, there is a little kitten who discovers an island while on a picnic with her family. She believes the island is separate from the rest of the world, but then discovers there are all kinds of sights and sounds and smells. The island tells the kitten that it is an important part of the world, just like everything else, even though it seems small and separate. When the kitten leaves, the seasons change on the island and it carries on just as it did before. 

Weather Together by Jessie Sima

Book cover displaying two unicorns,. One is dark with aviator goggles and rain clouds surrounding it. The other is light with an astronaut helmet and rainbows flying out of its horn. They are flying together.

Message: The gravity of depression can be lightened when you let other people in and talk to them about it.

Kelp and Nimbus are best friends, but Nimbus is often disheartened by the cloud she carries until eventually, her cloud grows so large that it turns into a storm. When the storm comes, she doesn’t know how to help herself and her friends don’t know how to help her, either, so she runs away and secludes herself. With time, Nimbus learns to accept her cloud, to even appreciate it, and eventually, she can share her cloud with her friends. Talking to her friends and helping them understand her cloud leads to more days that are filled with sunshine and rainbows because finally, she is not suffering alone. 

Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

Book cover displaying two creatures with stars on their stomachs, one appears to be the parent, the other is the child. They are holding hands.

Message: No matter how different one looks from you on the outside, we are all essentially the same inside.

This classic book by Dr. Seuss tells the story of the Sneetches, half of whom have stars and half who don’t. The Sneetches with stars think they are better and exclude the other Sneetches from their community. Then, Silvester McMonkey McBean comes with his star-off machine. Chaos ensues as what is physically desirable changes by the minute while Sneetches take on and off their stars and McBean rakes in their cash. Eventually, after spending all their money and not having a clue who had a star or not to begin with, the Sneetches realize that there is no physical trait that is more desirable than the other and that they can coexist happily without any segregation, forevermore. 

The Boy With Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis

Book cover displays a watercolor painting of a young, male child's face. Where there should be hair, there is a large bouquet of colorful flowers on top of his head.

Message: It is always important to allow people to be themselves, no matter what that looks like. 

In this modern story, there is a young boy whose hair is made up of a beautiful bouquet of flowers and who is beloved by his friends and classmates. He is kind and when he is allowed to be himself he is happy, loving, and caring. One day, he comes to school and all the petals fall out of his hair, leaving his hair prickly and dry. His best friend finds a way to bring his flowers back, by nurturing him and giving him (and his hair) all the love and support he needs to thrive. 

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Book cover displays a friendly looking witch with a large hat, wand, and cauldron flying on a long broomstick with a cat seated in front of her. Behind her is a full moon and she flies over a forest and a creek.

Message: Helping others can be your own salvation + there is always room for more people to care about in your life. 

In this story which inspired its own short film, a witch and her cat keep losing their things while flying on a magic broom. Each time something they own tumbles to the ground and they go after it, they find another animal who asks for a ride and they always say yes, agreeing to make room on the broomstick for an animal in need. Eventually, an evil dragon hoping to eat the witch blows them all out of the sky. About to meet her doom, the witch is saved by all the animals she has cared for and they fly away happily ever after. 

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein  

Book cover displays a tree handing an apple to a small boy in overalls with its branch.

Message: The selflessness of nature + the importance of spending time with those who love you. 

In this heart-wrenching classic, a young boy who loves to play in an apple tree grows up into a selfish man who only comes back to the tree to take what she will gladly give. Each time the tree is left alone by the boy, she is desolate and feels abandoned, only to be overjoyed when he comes back again years later. Eventually, the boy has taken everything from the tree, so that she is just a stump. He comes back as an old, lonely man, who wants only a place to sit, and the tree, as generous and selfless as ever, happily gives that to him.

Now go enjoy these books with the children in your life! You will both benefit from the life lessons they teach hidden within their beautiful stories.

Looking for more books that your kids will enjoy? Check out this article on 5 Books That Teach Kids How To Manage Big Feelings!

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