There are so many books introducing young kids to art and artists. Not all of them are created equal, though. Some look like they have promise, but in reality they just fall short of being moving for young readers. So, how does one chose the art book for a young child? Here are a few things to consider.
Here are a few things to consider.
- Your child’s age
- Your own expectations
- Whether or not your child had previous experience with fine art
Of course, in any age you can simply show to a child an artwork and observe her reactions. You can talk to your kid about the subjects, feelings, colors, shapes, etc. In that case, you don’t need any special art book; your favorite “grown-up” book with artworks’ reproductions will serve this purpose quite well.
But what if you want to introduce your child to the world of fine art with children’s book? What if your child is still pretty young, like 3-4 years old? I would ask myself, first, what do I want to accomplish? Do I want my child visually remember the art work? Do I expect her to remember artists’ name and style? And, most importantly, why do I want my child to be introduced to fine art?
If my goal is for her to have factual knowledge, like artist’s name and style, then it could be easily accomplished just by “showing and telling” kind of book. I always felt that this is the wrong type of books for young children. To me, art must stir emotions and many biographical books for young readers fail to do so. I believe, that factual knowledge will “stick” better with older kids, not to mention that it’s wide availability online makes it easily accessible. It doesn’t mean that children should not be told artists’ names, artworks’ titles, styles or any other information you wish to share. It could be mentioned, of course, as long as it doesn’t become the main point of learning.
I’ve noticed that for some young kids who never experienced art before, it takes some time to get used to looking at artworks. That’s why a good children’s art book that uses creative approach could be invaluable. It’s like a good teacher: sometime through game, other time through story, and yet another time just through cleverly chosen artworks, a book creates an exciting emotional experience. And this could be the first step into a lifelong love for fine art. Isn’t that what your goal should be?
Here are some amazing children’s books I “found” and want to share with you.
I love children’s art books by Bob Raczka. Many of them are so original and thought provoking. 3-D ABC is not your regular art ABC book. Unique assembly of sculptures in the book provides readers with delightful visual experience and serves as great conversation starter.
Another Raszka’s book Art Is… makes one feel like visiting art museum while being guided by a playful rhyme. The book could be read first and then revisited multiple times posing at each image like one would in each room of art museum. Feel free to explore, guess, discuss, and learn.
The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock is a story about the artist Vasily Kandinsky. Like I mentioned before, there are many children’s books with artist’s biographies, but this book has qualities of a fairy tale. The magically spun tale with handsome illustrations by Mary GrandPré (best known for her illustrations of Harry Potter series), transforms the young reader to the world somewhat similar to Clara Stahlbaum’s family from The Nutcracker. Even though there is no magic per se in a story, you feel like it’s about to happen anytime. You might want to supplement this book with some bigger size images of Kandinsky’s work because the ones in a book are rather small.
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