Books on Minimalism for Kids


We do still have some books. While there aren’t too many on the shelf my Kindle over-floweth. Reading Life after Life right now and finished The Fault in Our Stars before that. On a popular fiction streak.

By far Henry, and now Wil, have the biggest collection. We’re still in a train stage so there are quite a few of those and we’re enjoying a big book of Curious George and the Little Wombat stories – Sometimes I Like To Curl Up in a Ball is my favorite.

Our favorite books tend to have honesty, sharing and simple adventure as themes. Great lessons and entertainment for the preschool set.

Are there books on minimalism for children? Or more accurately, are there books for young readers that have simplicity or anti-consumerism as the moral of the story?

We do have one beautiful book that has generosity and simplicity as the big lesson of the story. The book is The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken and we received it as a gift from family.

This is a story about finding happiness through generosity and giving. The king in the story wants everything and anything. He demands gifts and has rooms filled with beautiful things. But one thing he does not have is a beautiful quilt made by the quiltmaker. The story of how the king eventually gets one of the quilts is a beautiful lesson in finding purpose and happiness in simplicity and generosity.

I found myself tearing up the first time I read this book to Henry. The  story is very touching and really struck my have less give more nerve. The illustrations are gorgeous and so detailed; younger children will enjoy the bright colors and fairy tale like scenes while older children will enjoy the depth and detail of the watercolor illustrations. Everyone will love the story.

If you haven’t read this book search it out from your local library and keep it in mind as a gift for the young people in your life.

I would like to compile a list of books for young readers that have minimalism or simplicity as a theme or moral. Please share any book recommendations in the comments section. Thanks!

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  • I love that book! I also like “Too Many Toys”. It’s not minimalism per se, but it does talk about how kids today get way too many gifts/toys. When my son & I read it, he’s always agreeing with the moral.

  • We loved the Little Critter Books. All very simple-basic life lessons without extra hoopla. Easy to read and well illustrated. And our kids liked them from 1 yr to 10 yrs old still.

    Just looked up Little Wombat books and think Little Critter are on a similar line.

  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today
    by Carol McLeod

    It is a beautiful book about how our actions and our words are a great gift that fill people up and make them feel good. My 3 and 4 year old latched onto it and still use the jargon from the book.

  • As a former K-2 children’s librarian, I’ve been on the hunt for minimalist picture books to read to my daughters. Here are my meager offerings:
    More by I.C. Springman, illustrated by Brian Lies — My favorite minimalist story especially as it focuses on contentment with the simple natural world.
    Stuff by Marge Palantini, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones — The illustrations are so-so, but the story is a great example of what having too much stuff can lead to!
    Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen — Not as overtly minimalist, but definitely tells a simple heart warming story.

    Hope this helps as you make your list!

    • I heartily second “More” and “Extra Yarn”. More made it SO easy to have a conversation with my kids about giving things away in order to achieve a happy place with just the right amount of stuff. And extra yarn basically enforces that the most special “possession” of all is not a physical thing anyone else can hold/steal, but a spirit of generosity. Both amazingly illustrated as well. I’ll have to check out “Stuff”!

  • “Something from Nothing” by Phoebe Gilman a Grandfather makes a blanket for his grandson. As the blanket wears there is enough material to make it into a vest… and the story goes until the end there is “enough material for a good story” Not only is the story wonderful… the pictures are too.

  • The Trouble with Dragons is a favorite is my house. The Lorax as well. I’d say they both lean a bit more towards an emphasis on the environmental impacts of consumption.

  • The Spirit of Hope by Bob Graham features a wonderful family about to lose their home and their creative journey for a new one – could be tragic if it were not so well done.
    Yoko’s Cranes by Rosemary Wells – highlights what real gifts are

  • Check out Squash and a Squeeze. A woman is upset that her house is so small so a wise man has her bring in the farm animals one at a time. When she finally lets them all back out she is pleased to discover she had plenty of space all along.

  • The King of Capri by Jeanette Winterson. A story about a greedy king who loses everything, and the lessons he learns along the way. Beautiful illustrated. I think Winterson is as good a children’s author as she is writer of adult literature.

  • Not strictly minimalism, but encouraging children to realise that friendship is more important than the outward trappings of wealth and beauty – one of our favorites (we still have it and my youngest is 15) is A Pig Called Shrimp by Lisa Taylor.

    I love you forever – again more about the importance of relationships and the cycle of life.
    The Three Questions (based on a short story by Tolstoy)

    The House that Beebo Built and Beebo and the Fizzymen by Alain Gree and Phillipe Fix are fantastic but out of print. We have the copies my father bought when I was a child, they are worth looking out for in second hand shops.

    • Love “I love you Forever, “I love you because you’re you”, and the Little Critter books. Not minimalist books per se, but lovely simply stories about great core and family values. My kids love them (they are 4 and 7) and have been reading them for a few years now.

  • The Rainbow Fish

    “The most beautiful fish in the ocean is asked to share one of his shining scales with a little blue fish, and to which he refuses. All the other fish in the sea leave him alone, and he wondered why. He goes to the wise octopus for advice, and she tells him to give away his scales. Rainbow Fish reluctantly does so, except for one. In the end, he is less beautiful then he was before, but he has new friends and is now the happiest fish in the sea.”

  • My top two right now are “Mole Had Everything,” by Jamison Odone and “No Room for a Sneeze,” by Robyn Supraner. We also really adore the Gerda Muller board books (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall). They don’t have words but show children doing simple work and being in simple environments and making their own fun. These are intended for small children, but my older children (and even I) enjoy looking through them.

  • In Search of the Saveopotomas. A cute story about a dinosaur called hoardosaurus who. Is happier after he gives away all he has hoarded to just what he needs. Was a childhood book from the seventies…not sure if still in print…but secondhand copies around.

  • The Quiltmaker’s Gift sounds lovely and I’m looking forward to seeing if it’s available at my local bookshop! Just as a side note, I went to the link on Amazon and made the mistake of reading the 1 star review (of which there was only ONE). Apparently this delightful children’s book is socialist propaganda, poisonous for American children (only American children??), and promotes the danger of “excessive charity”. Seriously, what is wrong with people!!? Anywho, loving all of these suggestions for the little ones in my family! Thanks for sharing :-)

  • First saw this book when I was a bookseller for children in the 1990s. It’s wonderful and available on amazon.

    Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Caldecott Medal Book) Hardcover
    by Simms Taback (Illustrator)

    ” Joseph had a little overcoat, but it was full of holes—just like this book! When Joseph’s coat got too old and shabby, he made it into a jacket. But what did he make it into after that? And after that?
    As children turn the pages of this book, they can use the die-cut holes to guess what Joseph will be making next from his amazing overcoat, while they laugh at the bold, cheerful artwork and learn that you can always make something, even out of nothing.”

  • The Table Where the Rich People Sit (by Byrd Baylor)is my favorite children’s book about simple living/what really matters. I can’t recommend enough!!

  • Another good one is called Little Bears’s Trousers. It’s best for the preschool and young elementary set. We got it as a gift from someone in the family that was a teacher for that age most of their life and this was their favorite.

    It’s about a bear who loses his trousers and his friends find them and use them for all sorts of different purposes. At the end they celebrate together with some cake. I like the moral of finding lots of different uses for the same item, helping bear find his trousers, and spending time together.

  • I’m a little late to this party, lol, but I have a recommendation for you. My husband wrote and illustrated a book on appreciating the simple things in life. It’s called Boxes and follows a boy and his box through the accumulation of “stuff” until finally the boy realizes he was happier without all the stuff, when all he had was an empty box. It’s available on Amazon, I think in print, but for sure on Kindle. Just search for “Will Robertson Boxes” and sift through all the Duck Dynasty nonsense.

  • I probably missed the boat with this one, but I found a set of charming books illustrated by Jon Klassen. The books are a bit dark (i.e. A rabbit may or may not get eaten at the end), but the illustrations are superb and so far only smiles.

    This is not my hat
    The dark
    I want my hat back
    House held up by trees.

    A lighter author, but still amazing creations is Oliver Jeffers.

    The great paper caper (my personal favourite)
    The heart and the bottle (so good)
    How to catch a star
    And any of the Huey editions


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