15 Picture Books That Support Children’s Spatial Skills Development

Having strong spatial skills — the ability to understand and mentally manipulate shapes and figures — has been identified by researchers as characteristic of those who find success in STEM fields and creative pursuits. Developing those skills can start early through activities and the language that caregivers use with children. Parents can also support young children’s spatial reasoning skills by reading them “spatially challenging picture books,”

These includes books that examine scenes from various angles or perspectives, that include maps and spatial language, or whose illustrations require close attention to decipher their meaning.

The power of these books is both in the illustrations themselves and in how parents and educators talk about the pictures with children, says Julie Dillemuth, a spatial cognition geographer. Researchers have found a “vast range in the amount of spatial language that children are exposed to,” says Dillemuth, and this has the potential of creating an early spatial skills gap.

Read the full list of books here on KQED Mind/Shift.

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