As promised, this week I am giving you a quick sneak peek into my kids’ libraries and sharing our favorite international illustrators from around the world.

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International Illustrators Around the World

Kids Bookish Inspiration

Reading as a way of traveling virtually

Love for travel almost always goes hand in hand with an interest in global literature and unique illustrators around the world.

You might already know that books are my favorite way of traveling virtually and learning more about new cultures. So, it´s something I try to embrace for my kids as well.

Let´s agree on this one thing: a great story is only a part of the success of any children’s read, since usually it’s the beautiful illustrations that catch the attention of the little ones. I feel like unique illustrations ignite their imagination and embrace their love for visual arts.

While reading Spanish myths and legends or Popular Spanish Children’s Books is an amazing way to learn more about the country, when any story gets accompanied by magical drawings and colors – the reading experience is lifted to a whole new level. It immediately gets more captivating and exciting, especially for the little ones.

In this post, I will be sharing with you some of our favorite international illustrators. While many of them are also the book authors, this article is mainly about the visual side of our favorite international children´s books.

So, if you’d like to know more about different authors from across the globe that we read at home – let me know in the comments and I can wrap up this info for you ASAP.

unique childrens illustrators
Some of our favorite international illustrators and writers from across the globe

Reading in our family

If there’s one thing I’ve always splurged out on – it’s the unique books.

These take up more space in my kids’ rooms than toys. While there is a psychological explanation to this (stating that a bedroom should be a place to calm down and rest, while the endless colorful toys lead to overexcitement) – buying lots of beautiful books has always felt natural in our family.

When a mom is a bookworm herself, it´s usually a great platform to embrace reading at home.

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These days my kids do not go to bed without a good story that we share all together. With years it has turned into a family ritual. While I prepare myself a nice cup of herbal tea, both of my girls go through their libraries and each picks one book. Then we get together in their tipi and the magic begins.

I should admit that it´s not always an easy task. Life usually gets in between: after a long day of work and housekeeping, there are times I do not feel like reading at all. But the problem here is that they never go with new books to their dad, e.g it´s either me reading to them or no bedtime reading at all. Kids are the masters of non-verbal communication. I do not need to tell them how much I love books – they already feel it and know it. So, they want ME to read, because it’s a secret bond we share. So, the beautiful illustrations have saved me here quite a few times: when I picked shorter stories, but the reading experience was still visually enriching for my girls.

kids books beautiful illustrators
More of our favorite international illustrators: Tancho (Spanish Edition), The Snow Queen by Manuela Adreani, I Love You (Almost Always) by Anna Llenas, The Boy with the Big Hair by Khoa Le

Where do I get the books

I shop most of the books in Spain at Casa del Libro bookstores, or via Amazon. My favorite place to discover audiobooks for road trips is Libro.fm.

Different countries & languages

I used to do a cultural research on books of a certain country before taking any new trip (head to my posts – Books about India, Best Contemporary Spanish Books, Romance Novels Around the World). Well, now I do a doble research – for myself and for the kids (like it recently happened with books about Ireland and Books set in Spain).

At home, we have books in Spanish, Valencian, English, Ukrainian, and Russian. Back at school, I also learned French and German – so I plan to introduce one of these into the children s library next year. As I was born in Odessa, Ukraine, I do speak both Ukrainian and Russian – so, my kids also understand a bit of both (although they lack the practice to speak fluently.

But honestly, my aim with reading in other languages is not to force them to learn something, but to spark their interest in new cultures. For me, it´s the best strategy to learn a new language: no sophisticated teaching method could ever win over personal motivation and genuine cultural interest. This is how I learned Spanish in 4 months, vs French, where I went through 4 years of exams at school, reading Victor Hugo as homework, and now I can barely ask for the directions while traveling solo to Paris. I’d never want this to happen with my kids: traveling, learning languages, reading books in other languages – it should all be a part of a fun game.

spanish legends and poetry
Must-have books if you or your kids are learning Spanish: Poesías y Romances Españoles Spanish Edition and Cuentos y Leyendas Españolas Spanish Edition (this book is currently pricey on amazon.com, search for it while in Spain via amazon.es or Casa del Libro)

Well, the best thing about having a multinational background and speaking several languages is a an opportunity to discover books and illustrators that are not available internationally.

So, over the years of traveling and visiting different bookshops across the globe, my eye has become sharp for discovering unique illustrators around the world.

Let me share with you my favorite international illustrators and the books that help me to ignite the imagination in my children. 

Our Favorite International Illustrators

1. Cicely Mary Barker (England)

flower fairies books
Besides Cicely Mary Barker´s books, you can see Djeco Pop to Play Castle of Wonders and Crystal Music Box Carousel

Cicely Mary Barker was an illustrator from England (1895-1973), who created the famous world of the Flower Fairies.

Even a quick glimpse at her books is an authentic joy for all ages. While you can find some of her creations on Amazon, searching for used books is another reasonable option, since there are lots of people creating personal collections of Barker´s reads.

The books of Cicely Mary Barker that I own are in English and French: Magical Secret Garden, How to Find Flower Fairies (this one is our favorite), Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal, and Flower Fairies Magical Doors.

Since my girls were so excited about Cicely Mary Barker’s books, I also got them a cute DVD to learn to dance like the flower fairies – Dance Like The Flower Fairies [DVD], and a few activity books – Flower Fairies Sticker Storybook and Flower Fairies Enchanted Garden Sticker Activity Book.

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2. Chiaki Okada (Japan)

Chiaki Okada is a Japanese illustrator and author of children’s books from Osaka. She created the magical pictures for “For All the Stars Across the Sky” by Karl Newson, one of my kids’ favorite bedtime reads ever (this book has a brief and cute text, but you can gaze at the illustrations forever)

I currently want to buy more books of Chiaki Okada: I Wish I Could Tell You, Botoncito (Spanish Edition), La visita de Conejito (Spanish Edition), C’est toi le printemps?(French Edition), and La Petite sorcière et la forêt noire (French edition).

You can enjoy more of Chiaki Okada’s illustrations on Instagram: @chiakiokadapicturebook.

Another Japanese must-have in my home is Kamishibai, an ancient form of street theatre and storytelling in Japan. Kamishibai combines a set of illustrated paper cards paired with a scripted performance by the narrator. It´s just another creative way to embrace storytelling at home.

3. Anton Lomaev (Russia)

beautiful illustrations for kids
Our collection of children’s books illustrated by Anton Lomaev

Anton Lomaev is one of my all-time favorite international illustrators around the world. His books are pure magic.

While my kids are not fluent in Russian, they often bring me the books with Lomaev’s illustrations for reading (clearly captivated by his colorful and mysterious drawings). I often translate parts into Spanish for them. Unfortunately, most of the Lomaev´s books are available in Russian, German, or French. I once came across “Moby Dick” in English, but most of the artist´s illustrations are made for the classy Hans Christian Andersen’s tales.

Currently on Amazon, you can only get Sherlock Holmes (French Edition), Moby Dick (French Edition), and The Little Pirates Lullaby (in Russian).

You can check more of Anton Lomaev’s stunning illustrations via his website.

4. Khoa Le (Vietnam)

favorite books for kids from other countries
One of our bedtime favorites – Dulces sueños pequeña Luna

Years ago I came across Khoa Le books on Amazon, while searching for reads on personal hygiene. My youngest daughter could not sit still while I was trying to brush her hair, so I wanted to find a kid’s book showing what happens to children who do not like using a comb.

This is how I came across The Boy with the Big Hair, and my girls loved it. Since I found the illustrations so unique, I also purchased Dulces sueños pequeña Luna (it has been one of our favorite night-time books for a while). Even though the storyline is pretty simple – the stars try to make the princess Moon fall asleep, so that the Sun could rise and shine – but the illustrations are marvelous.

More unique books by Khoa Le: Sun and Moon Sisters, The Lonely Polar Bear, The Cloud Princess, Wishes of the World, Rumble and Roar: Sound around the World, Beatrice Likes the Dark, The Fish Who Found the Sea, The Hero of Compassion: How Lokeshvara Got One Thousand Arms, Holy Night and Little Star: A Story for Christmas, Mother God, A Few Beautiful Minutes: Experiencing a Solar Eclipse, The Most Beautiful Thing, Shakespeare’s Stories, and Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World.

You can check Khoa Le´s website to enjoy more of her stunning works.

5. Emily Winfield Martin (USA)

Emily Winfield Martin is an American author of the international bestseller The Wonderful Things You Will Be, the book celebrating dreams, acceptance, and parents’ love for their children. We have her book Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey and love it (there´s also really cool set Dreamers Board Boxed Set: Dream Animals).

More unique books by Emily Winfield Martin: Wonderful Seasons, This Is a Gift for You, The Littlest Family’s Big Day, Wonderful Babies, Snow & Rose, Oddfellow’s Orphanage, and The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger. Her The Wonderful Things You Will Be Growth Chart, Dream World: 20 Frameable Prints, and Dream World Matching Game could be amazing kids gift ideas.

You can see more of Emily Winfield Martin’s unique works on her website.

6. Alida Massari (Italy)

beautiful illustrators from different countries
Romeo and Juliet and Cuentos ilustrados de Las mil y una noches by Alida Massari

I discovered the illustrations of Alida Massari while searching for beautiful editions of the world classics, The Arabian Nights, retold for small children.

Back when I was a child, my parents used to read me a lot – but for some reason, The Arabian Nights was not in our home library. So, I really wanted to enjoy this book together with my kids. The one we have in Spanish is Cuentos ilustrados de Las mil y una noches.

My oldest daughter was completely bewitched by the story of Sheherezade and how she managed to engage the cruel Sultan’s interest in a series of interconnected tales. Her favorite part was The 7 Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor (we still keep reading it every few months).

After finishing The Arabian Nights, I was looking for more books illustrated by Alida Massari and got another classic – Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I was fully convinced that this story would stay on the shelf for a few years till it would be able to pick my girls’ interest. But no way – my oldest daughter simply adores reading it since she was 5.

More unique books by Alida Massari: The Marvelous Mud House: A Story of Finding Fullness and Joy, The Story of Christmas, Forgotten Bible Stories, and The Story of Easter.

7. Anna Llenas (Spain)

color monster favorite childrens books
Unique children’s books of Anna Llenas

Anna Llenas is one of the most popular Spanish writers and illustrators right now, all thanks to her books embracing talks on emotions: The Color Monster, The Color Monster Goes to School, and Dr. Color Monster.

Her books and the unique Color Monster board game were the favorites of my youngest daughter. Actually, I believe that talking about emotions and learning to recognize them might be a healing experience for the whole family. While there are quite a few children’s books on emotions, those of Anna Llenas definitely stand out thanks to the original illustrations.

More unique books by Anna Llenas: I Love You Almost Always ( for some reason, my youngest daughter adores this book since the first time she saw it), and Little Mole is a Whirlwind.

You can check out more of Anna Llenas’ unique books on her website.

It´s not the only author and illustrator from Spain that my kids love. You can check the list of Spanish children’s books here.

8. Oliver Jeffers ( Northern Ireland)

Following my recent trip to the Emerald Isle, where I discovered quite a few unique books and bookshops both in Dublin and Belfast, I must mention at least one local author on this list of my favorite illustrators around the world.

Oliver Jeffers is a Northern Irish artist, illustrator, and writer, who grew up in Belfast and currently lives in the USA. His most popular books Here We Are – Notes for Living on Planet Earth, What We’ll Build: Plans For Our TogetherThe Day the Crayons Quit, Stuck, This Moose Belongs to Me, Lost and Found, and The Heart and the Bottle are all the international bestsellers.

For now, we only own Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, but I do plan to get a few new books by Oliver Jeffers for my girls as Christmas gifts.

You can check more of Oliver Jeffers’s artworks on his website.

favorite international illustrators around the world for kids

For more inspiring reads check my Pinterest Board – Travel Books, Movies, and Quotes.

at lifestyle crossroads travel blog resources
  • Accommodation: For short stays, I usually book via Agoda, Booking, and Hotellook
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  • Museums&attractions: Get mobile tickets for attractions via Tiqets (use ATC5 code for a 5% discount via this link)
  • Semi-private & private tours: LivTours is my favorite place for unique & crafted experiences in Europe
  • For Foodies: Eatwith is a unique platform for finding culinary experiences with locals around the world
  • Audio guides: Book audio excursions & tours in 35+ countries via WeGoTrip
  • Flights: Find the best deals with Skyscanner, WayAway, and Kiwi
  • Driving in a new country? – Check out Tripiamo guides (do not miss Tripiamo Driving in Spain Guide)
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  • Car rental: To find the best deals, I use Rental Cars and Discover Cars
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  • Compensation for delayed/canceled flights: Check out AirHelp and Compensair
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