Best Noah's Ark Picture Books
The story of Noah's Ark is a favorite for parents and children alike. Where else will you find a classic story that so readily lends itself to teaching toddlers and preschoolers important information and skills like animal names, animal sounds, and counting? It's also often a child's first introduction to the Bible, so it's important that the story be accessible.
Here is a guide to some of the best illustrated versions of the Noah's Ark story for children, including recommended ages.
If you have a favorite I haven't included here, please feel free to add it to the comments. I'm always on the lookout for great books!
Noah's Ark illustrated by Peter Spier
This Caldecott Medal winner is a study in story-telling through art. There is very little text in the book, allowing you to tell ther story to your child the first time, and have her "read" it back to you in the future. It also makes for a satisfying book for your child's room, since she can tell herself the story by looking at the pictures, without needing you to read her the words.
The poignant artwork can be a little sad or even scary for some children, so think twice if your child is especially sensitive. It will not bother most children, and is appropriate for toddlers through children in the elementary grades, who will see and understand more of the detail in the illustrations.
Two by Two by Barbara Reid
Two by Two is my personal favorite version of the Noah's Ark story. Although it is out of print, you can occasionally find copies on eBay or in the library. Barbara Reid's gorgeous artwork is completely made of clay, and so detailed, vibrant, and full of life that you can page through for hours, finding new things every time. The book ends with sheet music for the song "Who Built the Ark?" to which you can actually sing the whole story, as she has written it in rhyme. Two by Two is also one of the only books that shows Noah sending out a raven before he sends out the dove, an important element of the story for those of us who prefer our biblical stories as accurate as possible when teaching our kids.
A few years ago, Reid published another Noah's Ark story, this one told from the point of view of a lonely fox who notices pairs of animals all headed in the same direction. This version is a bit more suspenseful—is the fox going to make it? It is also illustrated with her spectacular layered clay images, and is readily available at Amazon.
These books include easy rhyming words in a large font, and so make a great read-together story for preschoolers and read-alone story for kids up to second grade.
Noah's Ark by Lucy Cousins
This version of the Noah's Ark story is told in simple language and brightly colored illustrations for the youngest audience. There's not much religion or theology in this version; it really focuses on the animals, and is great if your purpose is to teach your toddler about all types of exotic animals. When my kids were babies, we used to spend hours trying to identify every type of animal represented on the endpapers of the book.
This book was once printed in a board book version, and if you're lucky enough to find it on eBay, it's perfect for young toddlers to read again and again.
Noah's Wife by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Noah's Wife: The Story of Naamah takes as its starting point an ancient midrash (rabbinic story) about who Noah's wife was. Rabbi Sasso asks the question, "What was she doing while Noah was building the ark and gathering animals?" According to this modern midrash, God also speaks to her, and gives her the task of saving all the plants in the world. This beautifully illustrated volume shows her doing just that, and the importance of her work after the flood finally ended.
This book is great for older children who are accomplished readers and are already familiar with the story of Noah's Ark (fourth grade and up).