It was asked regarding the prohibition of pictures, “Does the same rule apply even if it is meant for small children? Also what if the hair and beard or just a hijaab are drawn which outlines the head?”
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came back from the campaign to Tabook or Khaybar, and in her alcove there was a curtain. The breeze came and lifted the edge of the curtain, uncovering the “daughters” of ‘Aa’ishah, i.e., her dolls. He said: “What is this, O ‘Aa’ishah?” She said: “My daughters.” And among them he saw a horse with two wings of cloth. He said: “What is this that I see among them?” She said: “A horse.” He said: “What is this on it?” She said: “Two wings.” He said: “A horse with wings?” She said: “Have you not heard that Sulaymaan had horses with wings?” She said: And he smiled so broadly that I could see his eye teeth.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (4932), classed as saheeh by al-Iraaqi in Takhreej al-Ihya’ (2/344) and by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Abu Fajr AbdulFattaah bin Uthman:
Pertaining to the Hadeeth of Aishah there are several opinions regarding it.
The first is that it is confined to a material a child can make a toy with on his./her own, and not meaning toys which are manufactured from the stores and are ready made.
Shaykh Muqbil, rahimahullah said:
ويستثنى من ذلك لعب الأطفال التي تكون من الخرق والعهن كما في لعبة عائشة الفرس الذي له أجنحة ،وأما أن تشترى من البلاستيك فلا
“…And it is exempted from it the toys of the children that which are made from wool or pieces of clothing, similar to the horse of Aishah. And as for you buying it from what is made from plastic then no”
The second opinion is that the hadeeth was before the prohibition of taking pictures, which has been disputed.
The third opinion is that it was not an actual horse, being the reason that the Prophet had to ask Aishah what it was, since its description was not exactly that of a real horse.
And the fourth opinion is that it is an exception for all toys for the children.
This is relating to actual toys. I am not sure if this applies to what you asked regarding people making pictures in books for children to learn although some may say this (that it is permissible). However, I believe that before embarking upon it, let us examine the hadeeth of Aishah which indicates towards this meaning first. And Allah knows best.
المصورة. لأن في حلها شكا لاحتمال أن يكون إقرار النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لعائشة على اتخاذ اللعب المصورة قبل الأمر بطمس الصور، فيكون ذلك منسوخا بالأحاديث التي فيها الأمر بمحو الصور وطمسها إلا ما قطع رأسه أو كان ممتهنا كما ذهب إليه البيهقي وابن الجوزي، ومال إليه ابن بطال، ويحتمل أنها مخصوصة من النهي كما قاله الجمهور لمصلحة التمرين، ولأن في لعب البنات بها نوع امتهان، ومع الاحتمال المذكور والشك في حلها يكون الأحوط تركها، وتمرين البنات بلعب غير مصورة حسما لمادة بقاء الصور المجسدة، وعملا بقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((دع ما يريبك إلى ما لا يريبك))
Also here is some nice speech of Shaykh Bin Baaz on the matter
“What is more cautious is abandoning the toys that have images on them because allowing them brings about doubts. This is since it is possible that the Prophet had acknowledged Aishah of possessing a toy that has an image on it before the command of destroying the image (had been established), whereas it would have been abrogated by the hadeeths which command the erasing of the image and destroying it except that of which the head of it has been cut off…”
[A rough translation of some of it]
“…Or that it is degraded (having toys with images on them) as al-Bayhaqi and Ibnul Jawzee held (that) as an opinion and what Ibn Battaal inclined to. And it is possible that it (Aisha having the doll with an image) was made specific from the prohibition, as has been stated by the majority of the scholars for the benefit of training (the young girls) and being that the toys of the young girls are somewhat degraded. So along with these possibilities and the doubt found in allowing it, the most cautious way is in abandoning it and training the young girls with toys that don’t have images on them…”