So, you want to introduce your child to the world of art, but you haven’t quite mustered the courage to take your toddler to the hushed rooms where the canvases of great artists are stared at in silence by adults who may be less than tolerant of a child’s lively enthusiasm. Art should be enjoyed by all ages, but we agree, this can be a challenging excursion for a young child.
“Shhhh, no, don’t touch, no, you can’t do that! I’m sorry, please excuse us, no, no–!” If that’s the dialogue that you’re envisioning, relax. There’s an easier way to safely travel with your child to the world of art and that’s through children’s books about famous artists. A number of writers have skillfully and evocatively recreated the artists’ works in a form that children can appreciate, while parents can enjoy the experience of introducing their children to art books for kids. Let the books bring the museum to you in your own home, where your children can be as noisy as they please! Board books, rhyming texts, quotations from the artists themselves, and of course, the eye-catching images that will capture a child’s imagination await you in these children’s books about famous artists.
Henri-Emile Matisse is a favorite subject of children’s books about famous artists for kids. Marjorie Blain Parker introduces young Henri in Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse. The boy who loves color lives in a drab, gray world that is as dull as his parents’ dreams for him. Henri wants to be an artist but his parents don’t feel that this is the right occupation for their son. However, once he starts painting, the world learns to love his bright colors and his images. In Henri’s Scissors by Jeannette Winter, we meet the young Henri-Emile Matisse, who earns his fame as an artist in Paris. Then he becomes ill and is confined to a wheelchair. But that doesn’t stop Matisse’s creativity as he uses his scissors to create amazing paper cutouts. And what better way to teach colors and artistic concepts than to use the artist’s cut-outs? In Blue & Other Colors, an art book for kids in board book form, published by Phaidon, serves as Matisse’s color palette as the young reader learns colors, shapes, scale and depths.
The royal couple of the art world is introduced to children in a pair of art books for children. Written in Spanish and English, Jonah Winter’s Diego tells Diego Rivera’s story and his love of his native Mexico using miniature paintings that highlight the works of his early years. Amy Novesky’s Me, Frida, explores the experiences of Frida Kahlo, who leaves Mexico for the first time to travel to San Francisco with her famous artist husband. As she becomes familiar with San Francisco, her own artistic talent is released and she finds her art in America.
James Mayhew takes Katie on magical journeys through the works of art in thirteen different stories. In Katie and the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous model has lost her smile and it’s Katie to the rescue, encountering a princess, a dragon, an angel and a lion with wings along the way as she makes her way through the art of the Italian Renaissance.
Claude Monet’s beach vacation is a little different from our seaside getaways, as he takes his art supplies to the cliffs of Manneporte, working quickly to capture the light but forgetting that the tide is coming in. In Monet Paints a Day, Julie Danneberg includes snippets from Monet’s notes and letters, along with a bibliography so that young readers can meet the impressionist master.
Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré make abstract artist Vasya Kandinsky the subject of their Caldecot Honor Book, The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, exploring his remarkable world where color and sound merge to create a bold symphony of images.
Illustrations in The Cat and the Bird by Geraldine Eischner are taken from the artwork of Paul Klee in this tale of a cat who longs to have the freedom of the bird she sees through the window. When the cat escapes, she dances on the roofs by the light of the moon, concluding in a reproduction of Klee’s painting, Cat and Bird.
Imagine if an artist’s cat could take you on a tour of an artist’s studio! That’s exactly the story that Berenice Capatti shares in Klimt and His Cat, as Gustav Klimt’s cat points out the familiar sights and smells of the place where her master wields his craft.
Laurence Anholt’s account, Cezanne and the Apple Boy, of a painting expedition taken by the artist Paul Cezanne and his apple-cheeked son includes reproductions of Cezanne’s works. The neighbors don’t think much of Cezanne’s paintings—in fact they don’t think he’s a very good artist at all—but a Parisian art dealer has a different perspective and the artist’s fame grows as a result.
Julie Merberg’s Mini-Masters series is a board book art gallery that makes it possible for little hands to hold big pictures. Titles in these children’s books about famous artists include: On an Island with Gauguin; In the Garden with Van Gogh; Painting with Picasso; Sharing with Renoir; Quiet Time with Cassatt; Dreaming with Rousseau; Sunday with Seurat; and Dancing with Degas. The stories are told in a child-pleasing rhyming text set against the canvases of some of the world’s most famous works of art. With such a range of artists, these art books for kids will hold the attention of toddlers with varying interests.
While you’re waiting for just the right time to take your child to the art museum, you don’t have to wait to show them the world’s favorite artists, thanks to these art books for kids.
Resources you might be interested:
- What does and Artist do? (Reading Comprehension)
- Why Would Someone Want to Become an Artist? (Writing Paragraph)