Family Books Club: What If

Cover for the picture book What If, written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato

Title: What If by Samantha Berger and Mike Curato (you can find a read-aloud version here, but please buy from an indie bookstore to support the author and illustrator, if you can!)

Reading level: picture book

Synopsis: This girl is determined to express herself! If she can't draw her dreams, she'll sculpt or build, carve or collage. If she can't do that, she'll turn her world into a canvas. And if everything around her is taken away, she'll sing, dance, and dream. Stunning mixed media illustrations, lyrical text, and a breathtaking gatefold conjure powerful magic in this heartfelt affirmation of art, imagination, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Categories: creativity, resiliency, art


  • What's your favorite way of expressing yourself? 
  • What new ways of expressing yourself would you like to try?
  • How do you see your friends, family, and community members expressing themselves?
  • Are there particular ways of expressing yourself important to your family and/or culture?
  • The author, Samantha Berger, had to leave a lot of her art supplies because of a flood. Have you ever lost something? What made you feel better afterward?

Activity: In the author's note, Berger explains that she had to leave her home because of a flood. She was in the middle of a big project, but she couldn't take any supplies with her, which made her really sad. But then she realized that, with a bit of creativity, she could turn anything into art. Here in Minnesota during fall, beauty is all around us! Take a walk with your parents/guardians and bring a big bag, collecting leaves, pinecones, and odds and ends as you go. When you get home, create a collage! Or maybe a sculpture! Or a diorama! Or a fairy garden! However you feel like expressing yourself, use your bag of newfound treasures to do so.

Thank you so much to Red Balloon Bookshop for partnering with us on this series! If you'd like to see all of the Family Book Club picks in one place, check out their FBC page