Creativity in kids - books that spark imagination and curiosity

Inspiring creativity in kids has never been more important. The World Economic Forum The Future of Jobs report found that by 2020 companies expect creativity to be one of the leading assets that an individual can bring to their job. Complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity were the top three.

This is no surprise to anyone who agrees that ‘creativity in kids’ is not actually about the massive influx of artwork, but about all kids’ natural giftedness in big-picture thinking, clarity of purpose and uninhibited freedom of self-expression. Kids are amazingly uninhibited when it comes to expressing themselves…

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up – Pablo Picasso

Most kids seem to lose these wonderful abilities somewhere in late-primary school and early high school – somewhere between “I can’t” and “she can”. Once kids start worrying about their place in the world and envying others’ theirs, creativity gets a little shaky.

RELATED: 16 books for reluctant readers

It doesn’t have to be that way! We can encourage kids to stay confident and flexible in their self-expression through demonstrating our own creativity and through exposing them to as much diversity and newness as we can.

Books can help to do both those things. All books will help to spark creativity in kids, but some books are written for that very purpose.  Here are 16 that I highly recommend – every single one is a treasure (you might like them too!).

If you you have younger kids, I have created book lists for creativity in kids here and here.

Books to spark creativity in kids

Disclosure: Mumlyfe is a Booktopia affiliate which means that if you click through from this page and buy a book, we receive a small commission at no cost to you. Read more about Mumlyfe and affiliate links here.

1. Living Out Loud – Keri Smith

Books to spark creativity

“Play is the most important element of discovering who you are…”

If a kid ever needs encouragement to see creativity as more than just “drawing”, this little book will get them there. Bursting with activities to leap wholeheartedly into creative living.

Buy it at Booktopia.

2. Bird by Bird – Annie Lamott

Books to spark creativity

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life…”

This wise, down-to-earth writing bible is a must-read for older kids. It’s a little pep talk to encourage kids to write or draw or craft what’s in their heart.

Buy it at Booktopia.

3. Ignore Everybody – Hugh MacLeod

Creativity in kids - books for creative kids

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history…”

Packed with witty cartoons and pithy ideas, this entertaining read will inspire teens to be authentic, honest and true. Note that it does contain mild references to sex.

Buy it at Booktopia.

4. Spilling Ink – Anne Mazer, Ellen Potter, Matt Phelan

“If they knew, for example, that it is normal to feel scared and stupid while writing (at least, it is normal for me!), maybe they wouldn’t compare themselves so harshly to ‘real writers’…”

A practical guidebook for young writers that includes interesting info on how to find a voice, develop characters and plot.

Buy it at Booktopia.

5. What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada, Mae Besom

“But there was something magical about my idea. I had to admit, I felt better and happier when it was around…”

A story for anyone who has ever had an idea that doesn’t seem to ‘go anywhere’. While the ‘children’s book’ feel might put some older kids off, hopefully they will have a read anyway. They might just change the world.

Buy it at Booktopia.

6. Steal Like An Artist Journal – Austin Kleon

“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done…”

An interactive journal that will help kids grow in confidence and curiosity. Prompts, quotes, exercises and Kleon’s effervescing enthusiasm will provide daily inspiration.

Buy it at Booktopia.

7. Wreck This Journal – Keri Smith

“This book is a respite, a retreat, a safe haven, a force of nature, a challenge, a voice, a release, an outlet…”

Now in glorious colour to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of this international best seller. Something deeply important blooms with every page destroyed.

Buy it at Booktopia.

8. How to be an Explorer of the World – Keri Smith

“Notice the stories going on around you…”

Forgive me my third Keri Smith inclusion, but this is my absolute favourite and I couldn’t leave it out. This entertaining book brings together teachings from science and art to encourage everyday curiosity and wonder.

Buy it at Booktopia.

9. Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman, Chip Kidd

“Leave the world more interesting for your being here…”

The transcript of Neil Gaiman’s uplifting commencement address to the Philadelphia University of the Arts 2012 graduating class. Chip Kidd’s design is a worth the owning the book without ever reading a word. But, don’t skip the words.

Buy it at Booktopia.

10. The Book of Mistakes – Corinna Luyken

“It started with one mistake…”

A simple little lesson about how mistakes can lead to amazing things. A particularly good read for kids who feel they have to be perfect to be worthwhile. It’s another picture book, but I’m sure our kids will forgive us (personally, I will never grow too old for picture books).

Buy it at Booktopia.

11. 365: A Daily Creativity Journal – Noah Scalin

“Doing something every day can change your life for the better…”

Accept Noah Scalin’s challenge and create something every single day. Choose a theme or a medium and stick consistently at it for an entire year. The creative stretching is par for the course, the lesson in persistence and consistency is a bonus.

Buy it at Booktopia.

12. Start Where You Are – Meera Lee Patel

“Every answer is inside you…”

This is an interactive journal that will help pull creativity, mindfulness and self-discovery out of young readers. The prompts are short and contemplative and the beautiful watercolour illustrations will lift even the dullest mood.

Buy it at Booktopia.

13. Art Before Breakfast – Danny Gregory

“Creativity is the art of shaping all the mush of the world around us into something…”

Short 5-10 minute exercises that remind us to fit creativity into our day, no matter what. Danny Gregory has an uplifting, motivational style that will spark joy in kids who are eager to try a few new things.

Buy it at Booktopia.

14. I Am Here Now: A Creative Mindfulness Guide and Journal

“Sometimes the mind likes to think it has seen all there is to see or that it knows all it needs to know…”

A clever journal that unlocks the power of mindfulness for living a creative and fulfilled life. It’s packed with activities and challenges and wisdom galore.

Buy it at Booktopia.

15. I’m Just No Good at Rhyming – Chris Harris, Lane Smith

“Somebody stole my bagel’s hole | Now breakfast just isn’t as fun…”

This clever book of poems won the Cybil’s Poetry Award this year and it’s as silly and hilarious as it is wise and intelligent. It will open children’s eyes to the way we play with words and illustration. Yes, it’s a “picture book” but hopefully older kids won’t let that put them off.

Buy it at Booktopia.

16. Journal Sparks – Emily K Neuburger

“The whole point of creative journalling is to allow yourself the freedom to be creative in whatever way feels right at the time…”

Journalling is an excellent way to unleash your creative soul. This little book prompts kids to use anything and everything to express themselves. Think writing, drawing, collage, lists, observations and more.

Buy it at Booktopia.

Bron Maxabella

Founder

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here.

Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than seven years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

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