We may be adults, but we can still find delight and fascination in picture books. Many children’s books are filled with detailed, stunning illustrations we can just lose ourselves in. Recently, I’ve discovered a spat of engaging, visually appealing nonfiction children’s books. Covering geography, history, biology and more, these authors and illustrators marry fact with whimsy.
You may find all 20 in the list below, but here are a few of my favorites:
Timeline | Peter Goes
Throughout this gorgeous oversize book, a continuous black silhouette morphs negative space into the history of the world. Covering the big bang, extinctions, civilizations rising and falling, wars and even pop cultural trends, time expands and contracts in beautiful detail. It takes a familiarity with history to understand all the little details, so adults may get even more out of Timeline than children.
Browse this cheerful atlas for brightly colored illustrations centered on all the adventures to be had in each of the seven continents. There is an index and "Can You Find?" activity for immersing ourselves deeper into the work, but Atlas of Adventures is more of a casual visual treat.
Under Water is an art object in and of itself. Opening the pages vertically, we are submerged below the earth deeper and deeper. Once we’ve passed animals burrowing among roots, archeological treasures and the Earth’s core, we flip the book over to dive under water. The vibrant detail and accessible approach to ideas like fossilization, water pressure or sinkholes will keep children and adults returning to this book again and again.
So adults, give these picture books a try! You may even learn something new.