The Red Book Book Poster Image

The Red Book



Wildly original wordless book deconstructs magic of reading.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers are exposed to the idea of "getting lost" in a book, so to speak, through visuals that let the reader imagine going into the book, being transported by it, meeting other characters, and getting to know them, as well as being known by them.

Positive messages

The Red Book promotes strong messages about the appeal of reading and becoming deeply engaged in a subject, place, and characters.

Positive role models

The heroine in The Red Book and the friend she makes along the way both are engaged, curious, and gentle.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Red Book is an unconventional, image-only book-within-a-book that takes readers on a journey inside a book where they are engaged, transported, lost, and found. It's suitable for any age, though it's ideal for preschoolers and beginning readers who will marvel at the simplicity, structure, and imagination. Expect delight, awe, wonderment, and many questions about how it works.

Kids say

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What's the story?

A young girl finds a red book on the way to school. Inside, it holds a map with an island, and ever-closer pictures lead to a new friend. Suddenly, she's looking at a picture of a new friend looking at a picture of her. Before she knows it, she's off on an adventure traveling through space and time to make new friends and leaving behind the joy of reading.

Is it any good?


With stunning images and turns that surprise and delight, THE RED BOOK is not easily forgotten. Young readers enter a book that ultimately deconstructs the magic of books. It's a visual-only journey aided by vivid, simple pictures in watercolors, gouache, and ink. But altogether, it gets the brain of kids and adults alike firing on all cylinders, reminding readers of the wonder and awe books offer by simply showing us another world. 

Kids will marvel at the magic of the storytelling: How is she seeing him and he seeing her at the same time? Where is she going? What happens to the book now? Parents will find the clever yet simple approach refreshing and impressive and likely a source of very engaging conversation.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the magic in the book. How is the girl in the book seeing the boy, and how is he seeing her? What do you think the next person who picks up the book will see?

  • How does the girl feel about the adventure in the book? Is she excited? Scared? Happy? 

  • What's your favorite book that takes you to faraway places? What do you like about it?

Book details

Author:Barbara Lehman
Illustrator:Barbara Lehman
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters, Friendship
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication date:September 27, 2004
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Available on:Paperback, Hardback, Kindle
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Educator and Parent Written byJanelle Brin April 3, 2016

delightful, wordless story

My daughter and I have read this book many times. A delightful wordless story that you can talk about with your child and enjoy time and again.


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