I hope you’ll be as surprised as I was at the range of topics that are covered through picture books about shoes. It’s not a common search phrase, but the more books I read the more intrigued I became. This list covers history, sports, kindness, immigration, creativity and so much more.
What I love about a book collection around something as simple as shoes is that you can introduce a lot of different scenarios and learning tangents. Kids may think it’s just a week of reading picture books about shoes (you don’t even need to tell them that much), but this list has books that look at insects, refugees, innovation, and biography.
Often we, or I, get so tuned into teaching kids in “core” subjects such as history, math, geography, etc. that children become numb to those areas. “Let’s read this for history,” triggers a glazed look and an involuntary shudder. They just learn to associate a word with an expected response.
But if we say “Okay, today we’re going to read a few books. Let’s see if you can guess what our theme is?” Or “Today we’re going to read three books about shoes,” and then we let the books do the talking, then sometimes, hearing something in a different context helps it stick better.
Maybe. Just a thought.
15 Picture Books About Shoes
In any case, without further ado, for your budding fashionista, world problem-solver, or muddy-play lover, here are fifteen picture books about shoes!
The Cobbler’s Holiday or Why Ants Don’t Wear Shoes by Musharraf Ali Farooqi – Did you know ants used to be the epitome of shoe style? Yes they did. Shoes were all the rage. And the lone cobbler of the colony had his work cut out for him. One day he realized he needed a break. He took his savings and went off to see the world. Chaos ensues – how will all the shoes be mended – until Red Ant attends a party completely shoeless! The scandal! The drama! The…plain, good sense? Read it to find out.
Sadie and the Silver Shoes by Jane Godwin – Sadie usually ends up with all the hand-me-downs from her brothers, but she does get to choose her own shoes. On one such trip she finds the most beautiful pair of shoes in the world. She wears them everywhere and all the time. Unfortunately, one day of play leads to disaster! Just when the reader thinks Sadie has found a workable solution – unique to her – author Jane Godwin takes it one step further. Sparkle shoes for the win (always)!
King Louie’s Shoes by D.J. Steinberg – In a rather interesting look at history, Steinberg notes the many “big” achievements of King Louis XIV and then the reality of the King’s rather short stature. In efforts to increase his physical stature to match his perceived importance (read: ego), King Louis had a tall throne built, wore really high wigs, and eventually introduced the world to high heels. Not sure if I would thank him for that or not. A fun perspective on King Louis XIV, if a bit idealized.
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams & Khadra Mohammed – A story set in a refugee camp in Pakistan that tells the story of two girls, Lina and Feroza, who each find one sandal from a matching set. They find a creative solution and become quick friends with “four feet, two sandals.” When news comes that Lina’s family has been selected to resettle in the United States, the girls find that the shoes have come to represent something much more precious than covering for their feet.
In Jesse’s Shoes: Appreciating Kids with Special Needs by Beverly Lewis – This is a beautiful story of a brother and sister. Allie struggles to love her brother Jesse who is “wired differently.” She knows that she does love him, but she is acutely conscious of the ways in which he is different from her peers. When Jesse kindly suggests that she walk in his shoes, like he overheard their dad saying to Allie, she takes the time to appreciate her brother’s perspective and who he is. The siblings are reconciled in the end and a new friend joins them, too.
Centipede’s 100 Shoes by Tony Ross – As anyone can imagine, putting socks and shoes on 100 feet each day would be a bit tedious, but that is the route this book takes. When Centipede gets a boo-boo on one of his feet, he decides to get shoes. By the time he laces up it’s time for bed. Then, add in socks. Then, add in an epiphany that maybe shoes aren’t necessary. What does centipede decide to do about his shoes? An entertaining story that will leave readers considering centipedes and shoes with new appreciation.
Salt in His Shoe: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris Jordan – Michael Jordan wasn’t always the biggest, tallest, fastest, best player on the basketball court. His mom and sister recount his journey to being the best with a snippet of insight into their life at home. A great story of Michael learning patience, perseverance, and prayer with a nod of appreciation to the mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers who spur us onward to pursue our dreams. Illustrations are by the incomparable Kadir Nelson.
Rocket Shoes by Sharon Skinner – José sees a commercial for Rocket Shoes and can’t think about anything else. Imagine the zipping, the flying, the zooming! He finally earns enough money to buy a pair, and the rocket shoes are as amazing as he imagined. The neighbors though think that they are a nuisance, a distraction, and dangerous. The adults successfully petition for rocket shoes to be banned, but when José has to use them to rescue a neighbor, mindsets begin to change. Are rocket shoes back for good?
New Shoes by Chris Raschka –Bright colors and simple terms describe the excitement of getting a new pair of shoes. Illustrations show only feet, shoes, and hands. The font is large, white, bubble letters. All together a very accessible book for young children.
New Old Shoes by Charlotte Blessing – Follow a pair of shoes as they go from one person to another. Told from the perspective of one pair of shoes, this story follows shoes as they go from a suburban landscape to an African country, they explore new worlds, engage with different animals, and marvel at the many uses for shoes. Even when it seems like the shoes have finally come to an end, another purpose for them emerges.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts – When Jeremy does finally get his own pair of coveted shoes – black high-top with two white stripes – he can’t wear them for long. Can he find the kindness to pass them on to a friend who needs shoes?
The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hakes Noble – The Orange Shoes is of a girl who is picked on at school for walking barefoot. When her father sacrifices to buy her a coveted pair of new, beautiful, orange shoes, she wears them to school only to have the other girls viciously destroy her gift. A fundraiser at the school leads her to a creative solution and ultimate victory. Sweeter still, the story points to the joy found in loving family and feeling the dirt beneath our toes.
My Shoes and I: Crossing Three Borders by René Colato Laínez – A young boy from El Salvador receives shoes from his Mamá in the United States. He and his father prepare for the long journey north. The story is about an immigrant child’s journey with his father to reunite with their mother. His shoes power him onward as he recounts the dangerous and unpredictable trip. This is a dual-language book with the text in English and Spanish.
Rubber Shoes…A Lesson in gratitude by Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri – A little girl, Gladys, tries to make her new, ugly shoes unwearable because she doesn’t like them. When she finally outgrows them, her mother passes the shoes on to another little girl who is delighted to have them. Gladys considers that perhaps her shoes were not so bad and that her response was not gracious. As she is considering, she allows her mother to pick out her new shoes rather than beg for a different pair. Text is in English and Spanish. The story is a quiet lesson on being thankful for what we receive.
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller – Alta is fast. When Charmaine introduces herself while showing off her new shoes, Alta immediately fires up for a race. On their way to celebrate their favorite heroine, Wilma Rudolph, they realize there’s room for both of them to be the quickest kids in Clarksville. The feisty characters are fantastic in this story, and the setting of celebrating Wilma Rudolph’s accomplishment of being the first U.S. woman to win three gold medals in the same Olympics is bonus history.
That wraps up this list. Do you know of any other picture books about shoes? What direction would you take this discussion if you were going to use some of these for a lesson or unit?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time…
Learn daily. Think deeply. Love widely. Live intentionally.