20 Picture Books to Encourage Inquiry in the Classroom

Pictures books and read alouds to encourage inquiry-based learning in the classroom

20 Picture Books to Encourage Inquiry in the Classroom

Hey, y'all! We've done a lot of talking about inquiry-based learning lately, but did you know there are a TON of picture books to help drive your inquiry units? One of my goals for this school year was to increase the wonder in our classroom. Schools are full of routines and procedures and that can get a little mundane over time. So, encouraging wonder and curiosity is a necessity for quality inquiry-based learning and phenomenon-based learning units. 

Of course, when you begin a unit, picture books related to the unit are the go-to's. Makes sense. Gotta get kids activating their schema. But you can also explore books just on wonder, curiosity, and inquiry in the real world. These are some of my favorites. This post contains affiliate links. 

1. Ish 
Not everything we look at is what it seems. And not everything we create is what we intend. Sometimes things are just "ish," and that's okay. It gets us thinking about things in new ways. 

Ish book for inquiry-based learning

Again, we may think things should turn out a certain way, or that we can't do something right. But a little spark of creativity is all we need to going and thinking curiously. 

The Dot book for inquiry-based learning

And probably most of Peter H. Reynolds' books should be on this list. He is a master of inspiring curiosity and thinking outside the box. Sky color is just right for your art, drawing, or creative writing unit. 

Sky Color book for inquiry-based learning

4. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
This one might be surprising, but how this family explores the area around them and problem-solves how to get around their obstacles is an excellent example of inquiry for young students. 

We're Going on a Bear Hunt book for inquiry-based learning

5. Ada Twist, Scientist, and others in the series 
Ada loves to figure things out. And in the process, she is using inquiry. This one is great at the beginning of the year when you are getting your students to start thinking critically and warming them up for problem solving. 

Ada Twist, Scientist book for inquiry-based learning

There are several books in this series that talk about what's above and below the ground, the water, the rainforest, the canyon... Each of these sparks curiosity about what really is going around us and gets kids asking all kinds of questions. These are great books for the beginning of your inquiry units. 

Over and Under books for inquiry-based learning

This is problem solving at its finest. Before starting a problem-solving inquiry unit, check out this book. It gives great examples of how one person can a big change through inquiry. 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind book for inquiry-based learning

Like Ada Twist, Cece is great at using inquiry to solve problems. She's a creative and confident scientist and works hard to come up with solutions. 

Cece Loves Science book for inquiry-based learning

Not everyone thinks the same or in the same way, and it's important for kids to understand that. This book illustrates how different people think and that it's okay. Even different ideas and ways of attacking a problem can yield good results. 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures book for inquiry-based learning

10. Going Places
Another Peter H. Reynolds winner. Going Places shows how it's okay if your solution doesn't look like everyone else's. Thinking outside the box is okay. 

Going Places book for inquiry-based learning

In Go Left, students learn that if something is going right, they can try a different solution (or go left). It's a sweet story about making adjustments in your plans.

When Things Aren't Going Right, Go Left book for Inquiry-based learning

12. Because 
This story shows the process of how things are connected. Because of this, that happens, and so on. It gets kids thinking of how things relate to each other and the ripple effect of one small moment. 

Not everyone has the same kind of intelligence. And knowing and understanding that is important for kids to understand when they begin looking at a problem. A student may have a hard time in math or reading but still ace problem-solving in engineering, coding, or design. 

The Smart Cookie book for inquiry-based learning

New ideas are always popping up everywhere, and students need to know that they can do something with their ideas. That that's how new things invented. This story illustrates how ideas can grow as our confidence in them grows. 
What Do You Do With an Idea book for inquiry-based learning
Did you know you don't have to brave all the time? Just at the right time. This story encourages students to take chances that feel right for them. 
What Do You Do With a Chance book for inquiry-based learning

16. On a Beam of Light
This story shares Einstein's journey of curiosity and scientific discovery. It's a charming story that will get your kids laughing and thinking about how they are closer to being an Einstein than they ever knew. 

On a Beam of Light book for inquiry-based learning

This cute, interactive story shows students how mistakes can be made into something beautiful. That even the craziest blunders can become amazing. 

Beautiful Oops book for inquiry-based learning
This story illustrates how color can transform a space and inspires students to use their creativity to create positive change. 

Maybe Something Beautiful Book for inquiry-based learning

When asking students what happiness is, read a book like this one to get them thinking. It's a Peanuts book written years ago, but it's a beautiful introduction to a happiness inquiry unit. 

Happiness is a Sad Song book for Inquiry-based learning

Inquiry question: What is the most beautiful sound in the world? It's a great question and one that is explored in this book. It can also be explored in your classroom during a unit on sound energy. 

The Best Sound in the World Book for inquiry-based learning

This list is not all inclusive of course and is ever changing. But I hope you found some new ideas for your book collection. Have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon!

Stay cozy,   

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