Talking to kids about art can be as simple as saying it’s pretty, as fun as making it a scavenger hunt or as stimulating as imagining the story behind the painting. It’s all a matter of how you want to approach the topic. With these books, you can start educating your little one’s art sensibility in such a diverse manner that you may spark a personal interest well into their adult life.
By Susan Goldman Rubin
If ever a painter talked to people’s imagination withthought-provoking images, René Magritte would be the one. Starting on a train that chugs along out a fireplace, the book’s pages follow a journey through paintings that are as absurd and surrealist as Magritte’s art. Sized just right for little hands with round corners, this book will appeal as much to toddlers eager to hear a simple story as to preschoolers exploring fantasy lands.
Who hasn’t dreamed of whale blue seas, beet red pull wagons and grasshopper green landscapes? Having revolutionized the graphic industry with its color-matching system, Pantone now has a board book to introduce shades and nuances by color category to children. With 20 nuances per color group and a big image to illustrate, this book should keep little ones entertained way beyond their morning breakfast.
The Art of Treasure Hunt: I Spy with My Little Eye
Written by Doris Kutschach
Forget Waldo and try to spy (with your little eye) a tower clock in a Flemish Renaissance landscape, a girl in a yellow dress in an Indian 18th century miniature or three light-blue umbrellas in a Japanese 19th century woodblock print. Asking children to spy shapes and colors in famous artworks is a great way to get kids excited about art and something you can easily reproduce on any museum trip, making art education a fun game to look forward to.
Journey on a Cloud: A Children’s Book Inspired by Marc Chagall
Written by Véronique Massenot, illustrated by Élise Mansot
Who wouldn’t want to live in a blue village in the mountains and travel on a cloud to a tropical jungle where colorful birds hide in giant trees? Based on the striking art of modern painter Marc Chagall but re-interpreted to follow the travels of Zéphyr the postman, this book tells a sweet love story leading to an actual famous wedding painting by Chagall featuring the Eiffel Tower. Next time your child loves a work of art, try to imagine the story that led to it – you’ll be surprised at how creative you can be.
Art for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Draw
Written by Susan Schwake, illustrated by Rainer Schwake
If your little one loves smattering finger paint or draw bold shapes in crayons, this book will inspire your family to try new things. Just like a recipe book, each of the 52 projects includes a list of ingredients, step-by-step photos and a sidebar on a specific artist who illustrates the technique at its best. From finger-layered soft pastel drawings to string painting, fruit and vegetable prints and DIY collages, this book is a perfect birthday gift for the artsy child who loves to experiment.
Note: All these books can be found at the store at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the perfect excuse for an artsy day trip with junior.
This review first appeared in the Golden Gate Mothers Group Magazine, July-August 2012, as the Books for Kids column. I’ve been writing this column since 2005.