One of the great things about children’s literature is how strange it can be. In the hands of capable authors, weird and wonderful worlds can come to life for young readers!
While the staple children’s books are important, there can also be room on the shelf for titles that stimulate creativity and imagination. With this list, we’re celebrating the delightfully odd books that imagine bizarre worlds and strange characters. Take your child on a journey, or get nostalgic yourself, with one of these books!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
The plot in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is as simple as it is absurd: the entire alphabet (which is alive) tries to fit into one palm tree. They fall out, and the capital letters (those are the adults) come to their aid. The bright, colorful pictures and helpful alphabet lesson make the book a hit with kids.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
“What if food were weather?” is a pretty weird question, and it turns out to have a delightfully odd answer. The citizens of Chewandswallow live in a land of food weather, and they never have to go grocery shopping. But when the weather takes a turn for the worse, they find themselves running from unpleasant and giant food falling from the sky.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Giving Tree’s magical elements are a little more restrained than the other books on this list. In the book, a boy and tree can communicate. The oddness of this story, though, is its cryptic message. The Giving Tree is the subject of a lot of debate, with many readers questioning whether the relationship between the two main characters was abusive. Despite the debate, the story remains a classic.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss is the king of weird children’s books. His odd, little furry characters have been running around rhyming about weird-colored food and cats in hats for more than half a century. Green Eggs and Ham is delightful nonsense, and every child should have their own copy.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
If you child is a fan of the fantastic, he or she will have plenty of options once they’re ready for chapter books. Roald Dahl’s creative worlds are occasionally dark and always imaginative. In James and the Giant Peach, an orphaned boy takes a magical journey with oversized garden bugs on a massive peach. Only Roald Dahl could come up with such a thing.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Little Prince is one of the most popular children’s books in the world – and it’s about a boy who explores different planets. The Little Prince himself is a native of an asteroid, and de Saint-Exupéry’s story revolves around the Prince’s adventures in the galaxy. The book was revolutionary for its time and remains a worldwide favorite.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Norton Juster’s chapter book is the strange story of a boy who drives his toy car through a toy tollbooth and finds himself in a magical alternate universe. Funny and odd, The Phantom Tollbooth is a great work of fantasy.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
In Maurice Sendak’s original idea for this book, a child sent to his room imagines a journey to a land of wild horses. But Sendak couldn’t draw horses, and he and his editor came up with the idea of the “Wild Things” instead. The result is a fantastic romp that has inspired everything from a movie to an opera.
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