by Taylore Kelly, CMNH Graphic Designer and Communications Specialist

If you and your children march to the beat of a different drummer, have we got a list of picture books for you. After much research and a lot of fun, we came up with ten books that speak to the modern inner rebel, artist, musician, and trickster. Each story is filled with messages for big and small people and poignant art. 


My Dad Used to Be So Cool, by Keith Negley

This is a very thought-provoking, moving book about a boy who sees hints of his father’s former life. Rock-bands and motorcycles! Who knew Dad used to be so cool!? The story is combined with many colorful and vibrant illustrations and will resonate with all, the young, the middle, and the old(er).


Urban Babies Wear Black, by Nathalie Dion

First off this book has amazing, stylish art by Nathalie Dion. The truth MAY be that no child will REALLY identify with this book in words, however if parents enjoy reading this board book, the baby will appreciate the effort. The message may appear to be that urban babies do all sorts of cool things, but what comes across is that the babies in this book do things with their parents, and that's what makes them the coolest!


Tell Me a Tattoo Story, by Alison McGhee & Elizabeth Wheeler

This is a beautiful story about a father sharing his life stories, and memories with his son. But instead of flipping through a photo album together, we see his life and loves come alive in his description of his tattoos - a statement of family love. It dispels the myth that only certain types of people have tattoos. It’s a love story you won’t regret reading.


What is Punk, by Eric Morse and Anny Yi

This little diddy is a pop-culture primer. The history of punk rock is told in clever rhyming that will delight little readers and amuse parents. Anny Yi's phenomenal 3D-clay illustrations are pure perfection and bring this world to life. Readers of all ages will have so much fun. You can read this in less than 5 minutes, to your child and, maybe, play the music! Teach 'em young!


Where's Warhol, by Catharine Ingram and Andrew Rae

This beautiful and fun book shares art history and pop culture! Instead of trying to spot "Waldo" you get to try to spot Warhol and friends. In the process, discover figures such as artist Rachel Whiteread, potter Josiah Wedgwood, novelist Gustave Flaubert and architect/designer Walter Gropius who appear alongside the likes of rappers The Beastie Boys, actor John Travolta, singer Madonna, and even Yoko Ono and John Lennon!


The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

If there is one thing kids like even better than pictures, it’s nonsense words. Hearing nonsense words read aloud by your parents is top tier! We had a hard time not collapsing into fits of giggles and barely made it past “a hippo named Boo Boo Butt”.


Goodnight Darth Vader, by Jeffrey Brown

There are really no words actually needed to describe this book, BUT this whimsical bed time romp through everyone’s favorite space fantasy highlight’s superb artistic talents & goofy sensibilities. This makes a great bedtime treat for any Star Wars devotee.


Goodnight iPad: a Parody for the Next Generation, by Ann Droyd  

This short, sweet book highlights our dependence on technology and the usefulness of knowing when to put it down. This closely follows the cadence, rhyme, and illustrated scene sequencing of the original "Goodnight Moon", by Margaret Wise Brown. However, it makes serious fun of our addictions to bright, noisy, digital media. This book will hit a home run with parents of school-aged kids today!


Triangle, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klasen  

This book brings a quirky, clever tale to life. It’s a silly story about friends playing tricks on each other. A truly fun and simple story that will connect with kids, but also have adults smiling at the antics and conclusion.


Beware of the Frog, by William Bee

A great picture book for older kids perhaps as this story starts out very sweet, but has some twists along the way and a surprise ending! It’s the twists and turns that make this story great! A perfect blend of sweet and funny. Great illustrations and a hiding snail to find on each page!