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15 Picture Books to Teach Problem Solving To Kids

Like everyone, even preschoolers have their share of problems. Granted they aren’t often on the scale or caliber of most adult problems. So often it’s usually just easier for parents to step in and do the problem solving for their child. Of course, the easy way is not always the best way. Knowing how to deal with new problems as they come up is one of the most valuable life skills parents can teach their children. 

These picture books will be excellent resources for you to add to your home library. Each can be used to encourage problem-solving skills for young children.  

book with a book thinking, question marks around his head and lightbulb illustration

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15 Picture Books to Teach Problem Solving To Kids

The following books are a fun introduction to problem solving for preschoolers. In each of these stories, a character has a specific problem they are trying to solve. Reading about how the characters in stories solve their problems is a great way to help your little one learn how to deal with real problems in their own life. Although these problems are usually quite different than what adults face, each one is still very much a real problem to the child and they need guidance and problem-solving skills to work through them.

Surprisingly there are quite a few children’s books where the character encounters a problem that needs to be solved. You can probably use alot of your child’s favorite books to help them become creative problem solvers.  For instance, think of all the problems Dora the Explorer and Boots have to solve, like getting Little Lamb back to Mary In Dora Had a Little Lamb by Elle Risco.

Here’s a collection of some favorite books for preschoolers that can be resourceful tools in helping your little one to start exploring problems in a new way.

A  Frog Thing by Eric Drachman

In this story, Frank has a big problem. He dreams of doing what no other frog has ever done before –  he wants to fly!  Although Frank puts in a lot of hard work to try and solve his problem he eventually learns that a big problem can sometimes be easily solved with the help of some friends. This book comes with a CD.

How My Parents Learned to Eat  by Ina R. Friedman 

This story is told from the perceptive of a  little girl whose dad was serving as an American Sailor in Japan where her mom was a schoolgirl. Her parents wanted to go out on a date but had a problem. Her father needs to learn to eat with chopsticks and her mother needs to learn how to eat with a fork. In this fun story, children will learn that sometimes the answer to a problem is to practice. To take the lesson further let your little one practice eating with chopsticks themselves.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audry Wood

Little Mouse has a big problem. The big hungry bear is going to steal his red ripe strawberry. Little Mouse tries a number of ideas and finally comes up with a sweet way to solve his problem.

What Should Danny Do?  by Adir Levy

This is sure to be a favorite book! This fun interactive book gives preschoolers possible solutions (good and bad) to decide what Danny should do for the problems he runs into. As children make choices for solving the different problems they can see the consequences that result from the choice they made. I highly recommend this book!

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman 

Baby Bird has a real problem. He can’t find his mother. This is a favorite book with preschoolers. Baby Bird tries to solve his problem, of finding his mother, by asking all the creatures he meets if they are his mother. By the time he and his mother meet back in the nest, for the first time, Baby Bird knows for sure who she is. 

The Empty Pot by Demi

In the story of The Empty Pot, the emperor of China is going to pick a child from his village to be his successor. He gives each child in the village a seed and a year to show him the results. Ming is so excited when he receives his seed because growing plants is something he’s very good at. But at the end of the year, he has a real problem. In spite of his best efforts and hard work, his seed didn’t grow. Now he has to decide what to do the day the pots of flowers are to be presented to the emperor.

It’s Too Noisy by Joanna Cole

It’s Too Noisy is a classic story about a farmer whose house is way too loud. He doesn’t know how to solve his problem so decides to ask a wise man nearby, who gives him some very unusual advice for fixing his problem. This is a classic you may be able to find this at your local library.

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears by Cynthia Rylant

Mr. Putter and Tabby Pick the Pears is a sweet story about an older man named Mr. Putter who wants pear jelly. His problem is that he has crancky legs and can’t climb up the ladder to pick the pears. So he has to find another way to get the pears out of the tree. This book is part of a children’s book series by Cynthia Rylant. They make a great introduction to chapter books for preschoolers.

I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track by Joshua Prince

Jack is a switchman for a train track. One day as he settles down to eat his lunch he spies an ant on the railroad track just as a train is coming straight toward it. He thinks how he can solve this problem and then springs into action. Children will see that sometimes problems have a way of working themselves out differently than we planned. This book is filled with beautiful illustrations.

Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan

Sadie spends the winter making a snowman over and over again from leftover snow. When spring starts to come Sadie’s snowman gets smaller and smaller and she has to use her problem solving skills to come up with a way to save her snowman until next winter. Look for this book at your local library.

Clever Tom and the Leprechaun by Linda Shute

Here’s a fun book about a Leprechaun who is a master at problem-solving. Tom thinks he is clever when he catches a leprechaun and makes him tell him where his pot of gold is buried. But the leprechaun outwits Tom, while still keeping a promise. 

There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Williams

This is a silly book from the children’s book series, An Elephant and Piggie Book series. In this story Elephant’s problem is that he has a bird on his head… and then he has  2 birds on his… and then it gets worse. His friend Piggie tries to help get the birds off with a simple solution (or is it?)

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

In Caps for Sale, a peddler wakes from his nap to find that monkeys have taken his caps. In this silly story, children will learn sometimes you have to solve a problem you need to just do something – anything and then maybe a solution will present itself. If you encourage your little one to act out along with the monkeys this will make a fun interactive book your child will want to read over and over.

The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub

The Jazz Fly needs to discover a new beat so his band can continue to play at the Jazz Club. After some thinking, he finally comes up with a solution to his problem. This book comes with a CD (or you can listen to it on YouTube). In addition to being a problem solving book, it’s also a great introduction to jazz for young children.

What Do You Do With a Problem by Kobi Yamada

This is a great story for older preschoolers about a little boy with a problem.  The reader never knows the specific problem the young boy has but the explanation in this book can be applied to any problem (for preschoolers or adults).

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Debbie Brown Tothood 101


Hi! I’m Debbie Brown. I created Tothood 101 because I’m passionate about sharing preschool activity ideas, and resources that I’ve gleaned from 20+ years of experience teaching preschoolers at home and in the classroom. My goal is to encourage, guide, and help inspire you to make learning SUPER FUN for your preschooler at home! Check out the ABOUT page to learn more.


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