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Preschool Books About Art and Artists

Updated on May 1, 2018
wannabwestern profile image

I've written over 50 articles about children's literature for library, preschool or home settings. I have a BA in English Lit from BYU.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is a new book by Eric Carle and its all about being an artist!
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is a new book by Eric Carle and its all about being an artist!
The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola is a classic story about coloring outside of the lines.
The Art Lesson by Tomie de Paola is a classic story about coloring outside of the lines.
Willie's Pictures will introduce youngsters to the topic of art history through a talented chimp named Willie.
Willie's Pictures will introduce youngsters to the topic of art history through a talented chimp named Willie.
I Spy, an Alphabet in Art
I Spy, an Alphabet in Art
Charlie Harper's ABCs is a wonder children's board  book by the late artist Charlie Harper, who worked in Ohio and had a background in commercial graphic art.
Charlie Harper's ABCs is a wonder children's board book by the late artist Charlie Harper, who worked in Ohio and had a background in commercial graphic art.

Fine art seems like a topic that might be too highbrow for young children, but you would be very, very wrong. Children have an affinity for art, at young ages, even more than text. And the best illustrated children's picture books are collaborations between gifted storytellers and talented and creative artists. Some picture books are illustrated by their authors, and these books often seem to be the most cohesive. It's only natural to turn to the children's book genre to introduce children to the subject of making art and appreciating art.

These lovely children's book selections are recommended for reading with preschoolers and early elementary ages. Some of them are about fine art and art history, but others capture what it means to be an artist.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Young Harold needs only his purple crayon and a very active imagination to take him on a self-created adventure. He dreams up a forest (really, an apple tree) with a dragon to protect it, a picnic lunch made of nine kinds of pie, and rescues himself from falling from a mountain height by drawing a hot-air balloon. This book not only is about a character making art, but also showcases the twists and turns of the artistic process, where minds changes, ideas evolve, and the imagine can take you anywhere you want to go.

The Art Lesson is by Tomie DePaola is one of the most well-known books in this category, based on the author's experiences as a child with his art teacher in kindergarten. Little Tommy loves to make pictures with his crayons, and eagerly anticipates art lessons with a new teacher. But when the teacher requires him to stifle his creativity and conform to her wishes, he becomes frustrated, until he comes up with a simple solution. Like all of DePaola's stories, this book has a gentle humor and a ring of reality.

Willy's Pictures by Anthony Browne is a different kind of book about art, featuring an artistic chimp named Willy who paints 16 masterpieces of his own, styled after famous works of the masters. Paintings Willy mimics include The Mona Lisa by DaVinci and The Birth of Venus by Boticelli. Most of his paintings include primate characters. This book is a humorous but informative introduction to art history and will be enjoyed by an elementary-aged crowd, even if the reknowned artists Willy apes are rolling in their collective graves.

I Am an Artist. Children will learn to stretch their imaginations while feeling a deep affinity for pattern and design in the splendor of nature. This book begins each page with "I am an artist when I..." Some examples are finding shadows made by the moon, finding faces in the clouds, or making something with objects found. This book is about imagination, discovery, and noticing and interpreting the world around us.

The Man Who Painted a Blue Horse is a recently-published children's book about the life and art of the prolific and very talented artist and children's book author Eric Carle. This autobiographical book about art and artistry is a simple homage to his inspiration, artist Franz Marc. The book shows many of the animals depicted in his other books, but the important message is it is okay to have a black polar bear, a spotted donkey, or a blue horse. This book about unconstrained creativity is a must-read book for parents, teachers and young children exploring art.

I Spy An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Micklethwait is one of three books in this author's I Spy series of books that uses the premise of the well-known game "I spy with my little eye..." to find objects hidden in famous paintings pictured on each page. This book offers a cultured twist to the other I Spy picture books out there, and will give even very young children a reason to spend hours pouring over important masterpieces of art. This particular volume in the series includes works by Dutch Masters and the 19th century Spanish artist, Goya, among others. Whether you are within walking distance of the Met or living in the middle of the desert southwest, like me, this series offers a great introduction to museum-quality art pieces for the very young to the very old.

Charley Harper ABCs is a children's board book featuring artworks of the late artist Charley Harper. Charley Harper was a modernist artist who created images for the National Park Service. His vivid and simple drawings evoke the 1960s, and often feature birds and animals. This is one toddler board book you won't tire of reading, and it is very easy on the eyes.

© 2011 Carolyn Augustine

Comments

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  • AaronBurton profile image

    Aaron Burton 

    3 years ago from US

    Lots of talent here.

  • Homeplace Series profile image

    William Leverne Smith 

    4 years ago from Hollister, MO

    The horse drew me in... Thanks for sharing! ;-)

  • wannabwestern profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Augustine 

    6 years ago from Iowa

    Thanks Random, kids need art so much. It is a soul-quenching experience for kids!

  • randomcreative profile image

    Rose Clearfield 

    6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    You're absolutely right that fine art is not too high brow for little children at all. The preschool that I worked at during undergrad did art units as part of the summer program sometime during which the kids would explore any number of different artists. They always loved it and got a lot out of it.

    This is one of my favorite kid art books: http://www.amazon.com/Visiting-Museum-Picture-Puff...

  • wannabwestern profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Augustine 

    6 years ago from Iowa

    nenytridiana, perhaps you can find an artist who needs some inspiration to illustrate your book! Good luck!

  • nenytridiana profile image

    nenytridiana 

    6 years ago from Probolinggo - Jawa Timur - Indonesia

    Great hub. When I wrote the children story, one of my problem was pictures. I don't have drawing skill, and I have a problem to find a fresh picture object (image). This is interesting.

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