Top 10 Children’s Books to Inspire Creativity by Kristen Williams
In a time when video games seem to rule the kid scene and funding for the arts is on the chopping block, we should highlight the many wonderful books out there involving art and artists. From preschool to middle school these books are sure to inspire kids to go out and create masterpieces of their own.
Are You an Art Sleuth? by Brooke DiGiovanni Evans (Grades Preschool-3)
A seek and find book featuring 21 famous work of art — each of which is enhanced by a two page spread delving further into the history, subject matter or artistic style of each painting. As a simple seek and find, this book works well with preschool-3rd grade, along with being challenging for 2nd and 3rd graders as an art lesson.
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (grades k-3)
A perennial favorite, The Dot is shared in schools around the world. It’s the story of a young girl who, given encouragement from her art teacher, is able to change her view on what it means to be a “good” artist.
Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter (grades k-3)
A beautifully illustrated and very dear book describing Matisse’s life. It follows him as a painter, through his illness that finally leads him to his work with paper and scissors. The book illustrates how art is available to everyone in one form or another, and it can be as simple as cutting paper with scissors.
When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden (grades 1-4)
A rolicking picture book introducing children to the art of Picasso and Matisse. The characters begin as friends and neighbors, but quickly turn to criticize one another’s artwork. It takes a happy accident for the neighbors to appreciate each other’s artistic style and realize that having different views is okay.
Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales
This simple, bi-lingual biography is a wonderful example of art used to describe art. Morales’s sparse text and art truly demonstrate the magic of the artistic process. The book is filled with photographs of the author’s hand-made puppets which introduces a unique art form to children.
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos
Kids’ imaginations and paint brushes will truly run wild after reading the story of Swatch, the color tamer. This book will inspire kids’ use of color, and might get them dreaming up descriptive names for them!
Magic Trash by J.H. Shapiro (grades 3 and up)
The inspiring true story of Detroit native Tyree Guyton, who spends much of his life creating art from others’ trash, and using his art to bring together and strengthen his community. This story will move children to use everyday cast-off items to create their own masterpieces.
Masterpiece by Elise Broach (grades 4-6)
Similar in vein to The Mixed -Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Masterpiece is a wonderful art history-themed mystery focused on James, an 11 year old boy, and Marvin, a beetle who lives in James’s home. The two forge a friendship when Marvin uses James’s pen and ink set to create a miniature masterpiece.
Under The Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (grades 4-7)
Another middle grades novel sure to get kids interested in art history and mystery solving. Under the Egg tells the story of 13 year old Theodora Tenpenny, who is left in charge of her mom, the family townhouse, and her grandfather’s art when he passes away. Theodora quickly finds herself involved in an art mystery involving her grandfather, the Nazis, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A. Haring (grades k-3)
Released in February 2017, this biography tells the story of Keith Haring and his iconic art work. Using many of Haring’s own art, the book is full of joy and will encourage students to draw, just for the pleasure it brings.
Kristen Williams is a kids’ book blogger, former language arts teacher and school librarian who just couldn’t give up her book habit. You can check out her blog at literaryhasbeen.blog and follow her on Instagram at literary_has_been.