If you're a fan of children's books, you know that some of the most incredible art happening today can be found in their pages. It's not at all uncommon to find museum quality artwork in picture books; in fact, there are many titles featuring such amazing illustrations that it seems a shame to stick them on the shelf alongside board books and paperbacks starring characters like Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine. So why not put them on display? There are plenty of children's books that are basically coffee table books, guaranteed to add serious style to your living room and entertain readers of all ages.
From animal tales to biographies to books that serve as first introductions to art history and architecture, there's something on this list for everyone. (And every age, too: Remember, even babies love to "read" books with cool pictures.) Honestly, you'll probably be tempted to cut some pages out and frame them, but resist the urge: These books are much more impressive when they're all in one piece. And while we know that reading almost anything is good for kids' development, books of this caliber will teach them how to look at the world through the eyes of an artist, appreciating and elevating the everyday with everything they do.
1. 'Magritte's Apple'
'Magritte's Apple' by Klaas Verplancke
Introduce your little one to the work of surrealist master René Magritte with this gorgeously illustrated tale of an imaginative man named René who paints a world where "leaves are lips, baguettes are noses, the right side is never up, and the upside is never down".
2. 'Can You Find It?' Set
3. 'Larry Gets Lost In Chicago'
'Larry Gets Lost in Chicago' by Michael Mullin and John Skewes
Take an illustrated tour of Chicago as you follow "precocious pup" Larry on a journey to find his owner that takes him to some of the city's most famous landmarks (Wrigley Field, Lincoln Park Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, and many others).
4. 'Josephine: The Dazzling Life Of Josephine Baker'
'Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker' by Patricia Hruby Powell
This visually stunning book tells the story of how performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker went from from "the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world," and will inspire everyone who reads it to follow their dreams.
5. 'Extraordinary People: A Semi-Comprehensive Guide to Some of the World's Most Fascinating Individuals'
'Extraordinary People' by Michael Hearst
Speaking of inspiring stories, this book tells the unbelievable tales of 50 "extraordinary people," including Evel Knievel (who jumped his motorcycle over 14 Greyhound buses), Sam Patch (who jumped Niagara Falls for $75), Helen Thayer (who walked all the way to the North Pole alone) and Roy Sullivan (struck by lightning 7 times). Just make sure to remind your kids not to try this stuff at home!
6. 'Who Built That? Modern Houses'
'Who Built That? Modern Houses' by Didier Cornille
If your goal is to raise a future architect, this beautiful book should do the trick: Featuring ten of the "most important houses by the greatest architects of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries," the illustrations will spark a lifelong interest in design.
7. 'Animal Camouflage: A Search and Find Activity Book'
'Animal Camouflage: A Search and Find Activity Book' by Sarah Dennis
Amazing paper-cut illustrations highlight the animals in seven regions of the world (Africa, Asia, Europe, Polar Regions, North America, South America, Australia), so kids can search through jungles, deserts and oceans to find fascinating creatures.