What if you love art, but your child seems indifferent? What if you homeschool and would like to introduce your kid to famous paintings, but not sure where to start? Fear not, there are so many amazing books for young children just waiting to help you with this task.
I have to confess: as a child I was not interested in art at all. My grandfather had a great many art books and postcards with reproductions of famous works of art. He often tried to share with me his passion, but I always found more interesting things to do. Then, he bought me a set of postage stamps depicting famous works of art and a stamp album. I’ve got interested in collecting stamps, and he kept buying them for me. Not all of them depicted fine art, but many did. And somehow, these became my favorite ones. While arranging my stamps and flipping through pages of my album, I got to know and like fine art.
Yes, it is possible to kindle an interest in a child through familiarity. Remember, familiarity breeds liking effect? The tricky part is to find the way to familiarize a child with fine art without creating disliking. Of course, there are always classes and museum exhibitions for children. I absolutely encourage you to take advantage of these, especially now, in Covid world, when many museums provide free workshops online.
I also want to share with you a great variety of art books for children. I hope you’ll be lucky to find many of them through your local library (that’s what I did). If not, you might pick and choose some of them to add to your personal book collection.
Art books That Teach through play.
These are the books that often have words like spy, spot, or find in their titles. They employ gaming techniques to arouse child’s curiosity about work of art. Here are my favorite author’s and titles.
- Lucy Micklethwait has so many good art books for young children that encourage play. My favorite ones include I Spy a Freight Train and A Child’s Book of Play in Art.
- Can You Find it? Metropolitan Museum of Art series. My favorite ones include Can You Find It, Too?: Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 20 Works of Art and Can You Find It Inside?: Search and Discover for Young Art Lovers .
- I love Are You an Art Sleuth?: Look, Discover, Learn! I hope you and your child will enjoy it too!
- Unlikely Pairs by Bob Raszka is a great book to introduce the concept of “belonging together” to young children. Young kids totally get most of the pairs in this book. And, by the way, there are other Bob Raszka’s art books for kids that you might want to check out.
ART BOOKS with projects.
These books not only introduce fine art, but also supply the projects in a style of presented piece of art.
- Get Into Art by Susie Brooks series has fun information about works of art and creative projects to go with them.
- Activities and Adventures series by Joyce Raimondo have great questions to start conversation and 2 projects per each piece of art!
Fun stories about art and artists.
There are many great stories about fine art and artists for young children. Here are a few things to bear in mind when choosing this kind of book.
- At young age it’s less important for children to know the name and the biography of the artist, but more important to be able to relate to an artist. (Poor old Matisse! His was not strong enough to paint, but he could use scissors to create his cutouts. And by the way, we can use scissors to make cutouts too!)
- If the story doesn’t provide the original work of art, I suggest finding it online and showing to a child. Often, illustrators create their own take on famous painting or sculpture, but children deserve to see the original one (even if it’s a reproduction on a computer screen.)
With that said, here are my favorite art stories for young children:
- Matisses’ Garden by Samantha Friedman
- The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel
- A Dragon on the Roof from the series Children’s Books Inspired by Famous Artworks
- Katie and the Impressionists by James Mayhew. A few words about other Katie books: there are many of them and they are wonderful! They cover many different artists and styles. And most importantly, they are fun!
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