My arty daughter helped me create two arty gift guides for kids. This is the first one: 10 Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids. I basically collected the art books over the past few years that my daughter and son enjoy. Grasshopper and Sensei also created a list of art supplies for VERY SERIOUS arty kids that I will be posting on soon.
p.s. More Art Gift Ideas for Kids here:
Inspirational Art Books for Arty Kids
Goodnight, Starry Night by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo
There is this trend in board books to expose preschoolers and toddlers to adult themes. Sometimes it works, other times it feels like the reader is really the adult who is reading aloud. In this case, there is a nice balance. The design of the book with peek-a-boo holes makes this an interactive fun experience for the littles. Simple nouns are highlighted and illustrated through works by the great masters: Vincent Van Gogh, Berthe Morisot, Henri Rousseau, Franz Marc, and Diego Rivera. Details for the adult are in the back. I wish there were more female artists represented but it’s more the result of the art world during this period which was a patriarchy than the selection of work by the authors. [board book, ages 2 and up]
Pippin Paints A Portrait by Charlotte Mei
Pippin the dog (and artist) takes the reader on a short art history lesson comparing many artists and he creates his own self-portrait. The artists included are Edgar Degas, Vicent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georges Seurat, Henri Matisse, Chris Ofili, Yayoi Kusama, and Mark Rothko. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
My Favorite Color by Aaron Becker
Aaron Becker takes his favorite colors and color mixing to subtlety introduce color theory. What’s amazing about this board book is the clear panels of colors that overlay over the page to show different hues of color. This is the perfect introduction to color for toddlers and will be appreciated by artists of all ages. [board book, ages 1 and up]
Drawing Outdoors by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, translated by Elisa Amado
A school located in the middle of nowhere seems to have nothing beyond a blackboard and a few chairs. But if you look more closely, there is a wonderful teacher who inspires the kids’ imagination as she takes them outdoors to draw and observe the local prehistoric wildlife. It’s a day to remember! [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Learn about Art History, Illustrators, and Illustration
Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art by Michael Bird, illustrated by Kate Evans
This is a beautiful art history book with works by major artists and really interesting stories about their lives, with particular detail to the work featured. If you want one art history tome for your kids, use this one. Enjoy it cover to cover, or just flip around as the art catches your eye. [art history chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children by Eric Carle and the Eric Carle Museum
Renowned illustrators — Mitsumasa Anno, Quentin Blake, Ashley Bryan, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Eric Carle, Tomie dePaola, Jane Dyer, Mordicai Gerstein, Robert Ingpen, Steven Kellogg, Leo Lionni, Petra Mathers, Wendell Minor, Barry Moser, Jerry Pinkney, Alice Provenson, Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart, Maurice Sendak, Gennady Spirin, Chris Van Allsburg, Rosemary Wells, and Paul O. Zelinsky — share their illustration process, their advice, and a glimpse into their studio with children. They take the mystery out of what it takes to become a picture book illustrator/author in this beautiful child-friendly anthology. [nonfiction anthology, ages 5 and up]
Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang
Caldecott honor illustrator and author Molly Bang breaks down how to show emotions through simple shapes. This is a book for anyone interested in illustration, from professionals to students studying illustration. [art drawing theory nonfiction book, ages 15 and up]
Fun Arty Books to Get Kids Drawing
Tangle Art & Drawing Games for Kids by Jeanette Nyberg
My blogger friend Jeanette from Craftwhack has this wonderful book with 46 drawing games for kids. Her open-ended drawing games are fun and provide structure for kids to do themselves, with friends, and with the entire family. From drawing to mixed media, she has activities that can be done over and over again, making this a creative drawing book to take on the road, in restaurants, or when you want the screens turned off. [art activity book, ages 4 and up]
Dream It! Draw It! Think It! Do It!: Activities to Ignite Creativity by Courtney Watkins
This is like a Klutz book in that each page is an assignment with space to draw and doodle; sketchbook diary style. The topics include drawing and writing assignments like slam poetry, decoding, and creating a creature from a kitchen utensil. It’s fun stuff for the kid who likes a challenge and wants to scribble in a book. This book would appeal to girls in particular. [activity book, ages 6 and up]
Draw Like an Artist: A Self-Portrait Sketchbook by Patricia Geis
Using famous self-portraits by artists including Dürer, Frida Kahlo, Mondrian, Picasso, Van Gogh, and others, this book has the reader sketching a self-portrait side by side with each master’s work. Readers who will enjoy this drawing challenge will thrive on emulating the masters and won’t be afraid to jump right in. [art history book with drawing pages, ages 6 and up]
The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How to Draw by Mark Crilley
This is a graphic novel that covers the principles of drawing from perspective to shading and everything in between. It’s a great learning tool for kids who like to read graphic novels, but the story is really based more on learning how to draw. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
The Pursuit of the Pizza Pirate (Doodle Adventures) by Mike Lowery
This is a fun concept: it’s a graphic novel where the reader draws part of the story, filling in the blanks on each page. With Carl the Duck as narrator and reader armed with a pencil, embark on a mystery adventure to figure out who is stealing all the pizza in town. [graphic novel that you draw in, ages 6 and up]
Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith
For kids who like subversive drawing instructions, try this drawing journal that encourages destruction in creating art! For the rebellious artist in all of us! Try one or buy the set. [drawing journal, ages 6 and up]
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
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p.s. More about Art Colleges from our college tours:
and some fun stuff …
If you are visiting New York City, here are our cheap foodie finds.
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.