Picture Books That Teach Problem Solving

A young child using her problem solving skills to play a math game.

Children are natural problem solvers, and they often find creative solutions and workarounds that adults can miss. It helps that youthful optimism makes it easy to change perspective to find answers. In fact, the Jewish value of optimiyut (optimism) is also a term used for the ability to solve problems.

These nine picture books tackle all kinds of problems, from finding lost items to environmental issues. Each also teaches children lessons about ingenuity and resilience. 

¿Dónde está Shmata?
by Tana Ross

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

Shmata is missing! Is it there behind the pillow — or is that an armadillo? Lift the flaps to help the little kid in this book find a beloved blankie in this sweet story set in Latin America

The Littlest Pair
by Sylvia Rouss

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

There isn’t one animal happy to see a pair of termites come aboard their temporary floating home. When things aboard the ark get slippery and uncomfortable and the little termites have a solution to their problem, all those creatures quickly change their tune.

10 Things I Can Do to Help My World
by Melanie Walsh

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

Taking care of the world may feel like a very big job, but even very little people can help. From turning off lights to using both sides of a piece of paper, this book offers easy reminders for all of us to help protect our planet.

Just Enough and Not Too Much
by Kaethe Zemach

Recommended for ages 3 to 4

Simon is a fiddler who loves a lot of things -- and consequently fills his house with a lot of stuff! Eventually there’s so much stuff there’s barely room to move around. What should he do?

A Watermelon in the Sukkah
by Sylvia Rouss

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Michael’s teacher told all her students to bring their favorite fruit to school so they could hang them from the roof of the sukkah. But Michael’s favorite fruit is a big, heavy watermelon -- and the roof of a sukkah is really just branches! How will they solve this problem?

Izzy the Whiz and Passover McClean
by Yael Mermelstein

Recommended for ages 4 to 5

Izzy the Whiz is an amateur inventor who, right before Passover, creates a super-duper machine that whirs and purrs and munches and crunches and miraculously cleans the entire house just in time for the holiday -- but not without creating havoc along the way.

Stone Soup with Matzoh Balls
by Linda Glaser

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

How can you make a huge pot of delicious matzoh ball soup when all you’ve got is a cold, hard stone? In Chelm, anything can happen -- and does.

Stork's Landing
by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Recommended for ages 6 to 7

Israel has one of the largest populations of migrating birds -- and in this story, one of them gets stuck in a net in the fish ponds on Maya’s kibbutz. Maya and her dad have to figure out how to save it!

Clever Rachel
by Debby Waldman

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

Two youngsters, Rachel and Jacob, learn the importance of putting differences aside and working together as they solve tricky riddles that change lives.