Doodle Delights and Pencil Play: 9 Drawing Books for Kids

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Margaret Kingsbury

Contributing Editor

Margaret Kingsbury grew up in a house so crammed with books she couldn’t open a closet door without a book stack tumbling, and she’s brought that same decorative energy to her adult life. Margaret has an MA in English with a concentration in writing and has worked as a bookseller and adjunct English professor. She’s currently a freelance writer and editor, and in addition to Book Riot, her pieces have appeared in School Library Journal, BuzzFeed News, The Lily, Parents,, and more. She particularly loves children’s books, fantasy, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and any books with disabled characters. You can read more about her bookish and parenting shenanigans in Book Riot’s twice-weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter. You can also follow her kidlit bookstagram account @BabyLibrarians, or on Twitter @AReaderlyMom.

My claim to drawing fame was that time I won a 4-H drawing contest in 4th grade. It was of a cheetah running through high safari grasses (cheetahs were my favorite animal). I can still distinctly remember the process of drawing it — laying on the living room floor with Mama’s Family playing in the background, with a photograph of a cheetah from a book propped up in front of me, or perhaps it was from one of the hundreds of National Geographics my grandparents gave me whenever I visited. Using a poster, I sketched the cheetah lightly with a pencil first, then drew it again with colored pencils. I felt really good about how it turned out; I knew it was the best thing I’d drawn to date. However, despite winning the contest, I quit drawing shortly after that.

Years later, when I took a “How to Teach Elementary Art” class as part of the early childhood education program I was in, the professor talked about how common it is for kids to stop drawing at a similar age. This is when children begin noticing the imperfections of their art, she explained, and it bothers them more than when they were younger. Without encouragement, many kids like me stop drawing. 

There are many reasons why art and drawing are important. They can improve fine motor skills, develop critical thinking skills, aid in spatial reasoning, and help children with pattern recognition. It’s also a fun way to express creativity. Despite abandoning drawing in 4th–5th grade, now, as an adult, I enjoy doodling as a stress reliever. These nine drawing books for kids make drawing fun, accessible, and low-pressure and will hopefully keep kids drawing. While geared toward children, I find them equally entertaining and instructive for beginner adults.

9 Drawing Books For Kids

Cover of illustration school: let's draw! by umato

Illustration School: Let’s Draw! by Sachiko Umoto

Sachiko Umoto is a popular Japanese illustrator and produces anime for Usagi-Ou Inc. This drawing kit includes a binder, a sketchpad, and an instructional book for drawing all kinds of things in a Japanese style. The book contains portions of her three previous drawing books: Happy People, Cute Animals, and Plants and Small Creatures. It’s a super fun guide that also makes an excellent gift. The instructions are clear and straightforward, and it’s a wonderful book for beginners.

Cover of invitation to draw by hul

Invitation to Draw: 99 Drawing Prompts to Inspire Kids Creativity by Jean Van’t Hul

These 99 open-ended drawing prompts provide perfect creativity starters for kids. With perforated pages, the prompts are easy to take on the go or tear out for multiple children to work on simultaneously. One prompt depicts the outline of a tree and asks, “What season is it?” Children are then encouraged to “add flowers, leaves, or fruit to the tree that are appropriate for the season. How about some birds and animals, too?” Another prompt shows picture frames and asks children to draw portraits of their “family, friends, pets, or favorite characters.” It’s an eclectic collection of prompts, and the author also includes tips for creating your own prompts. Follow her on Instagram @theartfulparent for more activity ideas for kids.

Cover of how to draw all the things for kids by koch

How to Draw All the Things for Kids by Alli Koch

This is an excellent introductory drawing book for kids. It contains 42 drawing activities with simple, easy-to-follow steps. Learn to draw a microphone, a strawberry, a spaceship, a hand, and more. It’s a basic book that’s also entertaining, and the lay-flat binding makes it easy to use. Artist Alli Koch also has two more drawing books for kids: How to Draw Modern Flowers for Kids and How to Draw All the Animals for Kids.

Step-By-Step Drawing Book by Fiona Watt & Candice Watmore

This is another excellent introductory guide to drawing for young artists. It’s very easy to follow, with each page giving step-by-step instructions for drawing using basic shapes with additional space for drawing. Kids can learn to draw a horse, a cat, a knight, and more. The book can be laid flat for easy drawing. Fiona Watt is the author/illustrator of the popular children’s board book series That’s Not My….

Cover of ed emberley's drawing book of animals

Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals by Ed Emberley

Ed Emberley has so many drawing books to choose from. I love this one with animals and remember using it as a child. It provides straightforward step-by-step instructions using basic shapes. Artists slowly combine shapes until, voila, there’s an animal! It’s an extremely fun guide that I honestly still enjoy. For more Ed Emberley fun, check out Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World, Ed Emberley’s Great Thumbprint Drawing Book, and Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces.

Cover of how to draw cute stuff by nguyen

How to Draw Cute Stuff: Draw Anything and Everything in the Cutest Style Ever! by Angela Nguyen

Did you know drawing faces on things makes them cute? It’s true. In this guide, kids can learn how to draw adorableness using the basics of Japanese kawaii — the culture of cuteness in Japan. Cute toasters, cute bats, cute hamsters, cute pizzas, this book will have your child drawing super cute everything. Angela Nguyen has many other kawaii drawing books, so if this one’s a hit, there are plenty more to try!

Cover of how to draw a unicorn by mayo

How to Draw a Unicorn and Other Cute Animals With Simple Shapes in 5 Steps by Lulu Mayo

Continue the cuteness with Lulu Mayo’s adorable fantasy drawing prompts. I love these because the 5-step instructions are extremely basic and easy to follow. The guide also includes prompts to take the drawing to the next level. For example, after drawing a super cute llama, there’s a blank page and a prompt to accessorize that llama. Add a top hat, a styling scarf, or a birthday cake balanced on their back. Whatever you want! Thirty doodling prompts are included in this guide, and Lulu Mayo has many other guide books to drawing adorable fantasy creatures for beginning drawers to check out.

How Do You Doodle?: Drawing My Feelings and Emotions

How Do You Doodle?: Drawing My Feelings and Emotions by Elise Gravel

Combining socio-emotional development with art, How Do You Doodle? focuses on art as therapy. Characters Otti, Ugga, and Flibb guide young artists on over 40 doodle games that prompt kids to draw their feelings and emotions. From using a glass jar to draw and capture scary things to a garbage can to place annoying things (don’t forget to draw the lid), this guidebook makes expressing emotions fun and restorative.

Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs! by Mike Lowery

This book is quite a bit different from the other books on this list. This interactive graphic novel allows the reader to draw themselves into the story. Artists can join Carl the duck — a member of a secret international group of explorers — in outer space as he searches for space slugs. Drawing prompts are given throughout the book to help continue the story. This is the first book in the Doodle Adventures series, which currently includes three standalone graphic novels. It’s as entertaining as it sounds.

For more artistic ideas, check out this list of drawing books for children and adults that includes artists to follow, as well as this list of activity books for kids.