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Top Inspiring Art Books for Kids (and Adults!)

Art Books to Inspire Kids

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Katie Art Books by James Mayhew

Do you have a budding Picasso? Would  you like to introduce your kids to art or even specific artists? Look no further and check out our favourite art books for kids.

I got more than a little bit excited when I discovered that our ‘spirited’ almost 4 year old had a talent and real passion for drawing. Finally we had found something that would involve him sitting still for more than 5 minutes. We encouraged him by buying lots of art jotters, different pens, pencils, paints and signed him up to an art class. Over the years, we have amassed a rather large collection of art books – they vary from story books, general art books and books about specific artists. We love them and in fact, sometimes I think that *I* actually love them even more than the kids do.

Story Books about Art

Pile of Inspiring Art Books for Kids

Many books have been written with the aim of fostering creativity and an artistic spirit in children. The books, through fun stories, teach life lessons and encourage children to use their imagination. They show them that there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do art and these lessons are usually wrapped around a sweet, inspiring story.

Tip: Check out this post about encouraging process rather than product.

The Dot (Peter Reynolds)

 

 

We love all books by Peter Reynolds!

Vashti’s art teacher tells the class to ‘make a mark and see where it takes you’. The class has finished and Vashti is still starting frustratingly at her blank piece of paper, convinced that she’s not an artist… she eventually allows herself to go on a journey and discovers her creative inner spirit. Read the story to find out about her journey. This lovely, short book encourages a ‘can-do’ attitude as well as the fostering of artistic and creative confidence in children (and adults too!).

Ish (Peter Reynolds)

This story is about Ramon who after some mean remarks from his brother, loses all interest and enjoyment from drawing. He starts to seek perfection in his artwork and is unhappy when he doesn’t get things ‘right’. His little sister, however, comes along and gets him to see that things don’t have to be just right, they can be ‘right-ish’.

Willow (Denise Brennan-Nelson)

We often hear that we adults can learn so much from children and in this story, we have a real case of the child becoming the teacher. The little girl in the story shows the ‘grumpy’ art teacher that there is no ‘wrong way’ to do art and rekindles the teacher’s love of art

Beautiful Oops (Barney Salzberg)

This really is one of my all-time favourites. It’s so simple and perfectly adapted to younger children. It’s full of pull-the-flaps, pop-ups and life lessons – don’t worry about making mistakes, they can often lead you to new, different and maybe even better ideas. It teaches growth mindset demonstrating that in every mistake, there is an opportunity to grow and discover something new.

General Art Books

Angela Wenzel has written a series of beautifully illustrated books that showcase art mysteries, sculptures, buildings, specific artists.

13 Art Mysteries Children Should Know

13 Paintings Children Should Know

13 Modern Artists Children Should Know

13 Buildings Children Should Know

13 Art Techniques Children Should Know

13 Sculptures Children Should Know

We also have both of the Art Book for Children books (the white and the yellow one). These books provide a comprehensive introduction to art, artists and their famous works to children. They’re great reference books that are very accessible to young children (recommended from age 7). They cover a large number of artists, along with their most famous works. It introduces them to the ‘classics’ along with newer less-known artists.

          

Books about Specific Artists

When Pigasso Met Mootisse (Nina Laden)

This is a fun, tongue-in-cheek, playful and entertaining book which depicts the relationship between Picasso and Matisse – fairly volatile! A taste of art history for kids. It’s filled with colourful and bright illustrations.

Dali and the Path of Dreams (Anna Obiols)

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book. If you’re planning a visit to the Dali museum or anything Dali-related, make sure you pick up this book! It was created for the centenary of the birth of Salvador Dali. Check if your library has a copy as Amazon no longer seem to provide it as a reasonable price (£32 – what’s that all about?!) The story centres around the adventures of young Salvi – he initially finds a magic key ‘under’ the ocean. This then leads him on various adventures from riding long-legged elephants, to flying on floating boats. Children are introduced to the world of dreams where Dali’s paintings and surrealism are brought to life.

The Katie Books Series (James Mayhew)

I think we must have just about all of James Mayhew’s ‘Katie’ books now. The main character, Katie, is always embarking on an art adventure whilst being looked after by her granny. She often jumps into a famous artwork, has a short adventure, all whilst her grandmother has a short nap.

Katie and the Spanish Princess

Katie and the Starry Night

Katie and the Waterlily Pond

Katie and the Mona Lisa

Katie and the Impressionists

Anholt Book Series

Next we move on to the Anholt’s Artist Book series which are my son’s favourites:

Camille and the Sunflowers

Leonardo and the Flying Boy

Matisse, King of Colour

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet

Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail

Cézanne and the Apple Boy

Frida Kahlo

Degas and the Little Dancer

So there you have it, a comprehensive round-up of all of our favourite art books for kids.

Every Child is An Artist Quote by Pablo Picasso
One of my most favourite walls in our house

If you’re now feeling inspired to get out your easel, paint brushes and watercolours, then check out our post on knife and fork painting or for a contemporary twist, give blindfolded drawing like Spanish artist Miro a try!

Do YOU have any favourite art books for kids? We love to hear about new ones and would be delighted if you shared them in the comments below.

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