The function of all art lies in fact in breaking through the narrow and tortuous enclosure of the finite, in which man is immersed while living here below, and in providing a window to the infinite for his hungry soul.“The Function of Art” ~ Pope Pius XII
In our family, one way we find that glimpse into the infinite is through beautiful picture books. The artists and illustrators of the books listed here have used their talents to provide children with truly beautiful pictures which fill their hearts with a love for beauty. As they grow older, that foundation will prepare them to contemplate the beauty and majesty of their Creator.
We love Josephine Nobisso’s wonderful Catholic stories which are beautifully complemented by Katlin Szegedi’s luminous illustrations. Check out both their collaborations: The Weight of a Mass: A Tale of Faith and Take It to the Queen: A Tale of Hope.
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links, which means that I earn a small fee for qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
Elsa Beskow’s attention to detail and soft watercolors are so enchanting! Peter’s Old House is a heart-warming story of a community coming together to rebuild a kind but poor neighbor’s house.
Many of Elsa Beskow’s stories, like Peter in Blueberry Land, have a fairy tale quality that works perfectly with her delicate, lovely illustrations.
Demi’s masterful and original artwork complement several beautiful books about the saints, including: Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Bernadette, and Hildegard of Bingen.
Demi’s masterful and original artwork complement several beautiful books about the saints, including: Saint Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, and Saint Bernadette and the Miracles of Lourdes.
Ruth Sanderson’s Cinderella retelling has the most gorgeous fairy tale illustrations with lots of silvers and magical glows. She also hsa other incredibly beautiful versions of classic fairy tales like Rose Red and Snow White.
We also enjoy Sanderson’s versions of unique fairy tales from around the world such as The Golden Mare, the Firebird, and the Magic Ring and The Enchanted Wood.
Ruth Sanderson also has illustrated some lovely religious books, like The Nativity and Saints: Lives & Illuminations.
The Complete Brambly Hedge is chock-full of lovely, detailed nature illustrations and perfectly whiskered mice. We love these peaceful stories, perfect for a summer day.
British author and illustrator Jane Hissey draws the most charming pictures of huggable stuffed animals. We love The Old Bear Collection and all its sequels.
Miss Rumphius wants to make the world a more beautiful place. So, apparently, does author and illustrator Barbara Cooney, whose delicate depictions of coastal New England make me want to visit.
Jan Brett has perfected picture books for children. Simple but entertaining stories, often based on fairy tales, and the most detailed artwork you’ll ever see. Children spend hours pouring over her books. Some of our favorites include: Mossy, Annie and the Wild Animals, The Hat, Town Mouse, Country Mouse, and Cinders.
The talented Trina Hyman’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood features a sweet, very young Red Riding Hood and rich woodland scenes. Warning for littler readers: this retelling includes the wolf swallowing both Red and Grandma, and then the Woodsman cutting up the wolf to rescue them.
We also enjoy the Trina Schart Hyman illustrions in Margaret Hodges’ retellings of The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur and Saint George and the Dragon
The oil paintings in Heckedy Peg provide a richness and depth seldom found in picture books. In this fairy tale, a mother must rescue her 7 children from an evil witch.
Rechenka’s Eggs is the story of a miracle for a lonely old woman. Patricia Polacco captures the Russian flavor of this story with intricate, colorful illustrations.
The artwork in Claire Nivola’s childhood memoir, Orani, glows with a warm Mediterranean vibe. A simple description of an American girl’s impressions of the vibrant everyday life in a traditional Italian village.
In Jerry Pinkney’s wordless version of The Lion & the Mouse, the pictures themselves tell the classic fable. Other beautifully executed Pinkney books include The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Tortoise & the Hare.
Out and About is a perfect introduction to poetry, complemented by lovely drawings of the changing seasons and family life.
Another beautiful Shirley Hughes book is Lucy and Tom at the Seaside. Hughes’ style lends itself well to the detailed beach scenes depicting a family’s day at the seaside.
The Sleep Ponies is a whimsical dream story with appropriately dreamy, luminous watercolors throughout.
Paul Zelinsky’s gorgeous retelling of Rapunzel is rich and compelling.
I love the old English folk song Over in the Meadow, and have two favorite versions. I appreciate the colorful slavic style in Feodor Rojankovsky’s illustrations.
But I also love the incredibly realistic illustrations in Feirabend’s version of Over in the Meadow. These animals could leap right off the page!
This book is beautiful, every margin is full of delicate drawings of seeds and plants, and it helps kids appreciate the gorgeous bounty of a garden. We love How Groundhog’s Garden Grew!
Days on the Farm: This lovely storybook collection has six stories of farm life with delicate, detailed illustrations inspired by life on a sheep farm.
The amazing illustrations in Our Lady’s Wardrobe fit perfectly with the heavenly theme! Check out my full review here!
Penny Dale’s sweet pictures of children mesh well with Martin Waddell’s insightful stories about the dynamics of dealing with a new sibling in Rosie’s Babie and When the Teddy Bears Came.
Little Donkey Close Your Eyes is a classic Margaret Wise Brown story paired with gorgeous bright illustrations in sunset shades.
Home Sweet Home: This beautiful poem blessing creation is paired with Ashley Wolff’s detailed illustrations.
Unique illustrations and perspectives capture these adorable Owl Babies to a feather.
David Wiesner’s realistic illustrations capture the motion and force of the Hurricane.
Graeme Base’s Animalia is a new height in alphabet books. Abundant alliteration, vibrant illustrations, and a unique meshing of fantasy and reality make this book memorable.
Box Turtle at Long Pond depicts a day in the life of a turtle with vibrant, realistic pictures.
In The Great Redwall Feast, Brian Jacques describes a merry feast in the Abbey, rife with cheerful animals.
Jim Arnosky’s love for plants and animals can be seen in his carefully executed drawings. We enjoy his children’s picture books such Rabbits and Raindrops and Every Autumn Comes the Bear.
Maurice Pledger draws intricate, colorful books for little ones. His touch and feel books like Nature Trails are perfect for nurturing an appreciation for nature and wildlife.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of beautiful picture books! Feel free to comment with books you would like to see added to this list!