Why illustrations are essential for children’s books

Why illustrations are essential for children’s books

Can you imagine children’s books – at least those for the younger readers – with no illustrations in them? Just words, words and more words, for youngsters who are probably not old enough to read and who are relying on an adult to read stories to them. How very dull they would look. No wonderful Quentin Blake drawings alongside Roald Dahl’s words; no images of Alfie or Annie Rose alongside the books of author/illustrator Shirley Hughes.

Images are a powerful addition to children’s stories, which is why we are so thrilled at The Elephant’s Trunk to have the wonderful team at Happydesigner creating the illustrations for our books.

So, why are illustrations so important for children’s books? We’ve been finding out.


Opening up a world: illustrations in children’s books are like magical portals that transport young readers into worlds filled with wonder, excitement, and boundless imagination. They serve as visual companions to the narrative, making words come alive.


Making sense of words: at the heart of every book is a compelling story. But for younger readers who might just be starting to decipher words, illustrations provide a crucial bridge to understanding the narrative. Including vivid, colourful images alongside the text can start children on that journey to learning to read.


Fostering the imagination: illustrations in children’s books can really inspire the imagination – and few people are as imaginative as young children. As stories are read by children or to them, the images enable them to begin to visualise characters, places, and events in a way that words alone sometimes cannot. Our books, like The Name That Blew Away or Three Naughty Bunnies, are brought to life by the illustrations, allowing children to visualise the worlds we are trying to convey.


Making an emotional connection: they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is so true of the illustrations in children’s stories. A few words accompanied by an image convey so much more than words alone can, and help young minds and hearts really connect with the story and the text. Children can more easily feel what the characters are feeling, whether that’s happiness, sorry, fear or courage.


Aiding development: more than just making the stories look great, the illustrations play a crucial role in a child’s cognitive and emotional development. They help with improving observation skills, pattern recognition, and fostering an appreciation for art. Illustrations can help children understand complex concepts, learn about different cultures, and navigate various emotions, contributing to their emotional intelligence.


Making memories: which books and stories do you remember best from reading as a child? Would they be stories from Enid Blyton, or Lewis Carroll? Roald Dahl or Jacqueline Wilson? We’re prepared to bet that part of what makes them memorable, and why you look back on them so fondly, is the illustrations. Illustrations become ingrained in a child’s memory, leaving a lasting impression that can shape their love for reading and storytelling well into adulthood.


There is no denying illustrations are essential for children’s books. They stimulate young minds, nurture creativity, and create a world where words and images blend together

Next time you open a children’s book, take a moment to appreciate the skill of the illustrator and what he or she has brought to the narrative.

We hope you enjoy the illustrations in our books, all aimed at promoting inclusivity for children. Take a look at our books here.