Favorite Art Books for Children (Part 2)

As promised here is part 2 of my favorite art books for children....  

I am sharing two books today from the author Peter Reynolds.  I LOVE his books!  I am a nut because every time I read them I want to cry, they are quite simple but their messages are profound.  Ish is about a boy named Ramon that loves to draw until his older brother made fun of his drawings saying that they did not look real.  Ramon started to think that he did not know how to draw so he crumpled up all of his drawings.  Then he discovers that his little sister had been saving all of his crumpled up drawings and hanging them all over her bedroom walls.  She says, "This is one of my favorites." - pointing to a vase.  Ramon says,"That was supposed to be a vase of flowers, but it does not look like one."  To which she exclaims, "Well it looks vase - ISH!"  Ramon realized that his drawings did not have to look real - that he could draw them as he saw them.  This book reinforces the important message that children should draw things as they see them from their own point of view.    

The Dot is about a girl named Vashti who is in an art class at school but does not think she is a good artist so at the end of class her paper is blank.  Her teacher says, "Just make a mark and see where it takes you."  So she draws a dot on the paper and signs it.  The next class she was shocked to see that her teacher had the dot hanging up in a frame above her desk.  Vashti was then determined that she could make a better dot than that so she starts making all sorts of dot paintings....  big dots, small dots, colorful dots.....  Everyone loved her paintings at the school art show and then she in turn encourages another child to create art.  This story is a beautiful reminder that children have endless possibilities and they are counting on us to help them see their potential.  Check out this link made by the author of these books.  It has great activities that apply to the stories.

It Looked Like Spilt Milk Board Book [IT LOOKED LIKE SPILT MILK-] [Board Books]

I love It Looked Like Spilt Milk because of the way it teaches children that art can be found anywhere - even in the clouds.  Each page has a white familiar shape that looks like spilt milk but at the end the children realize they are all clouds in the sky.  This book is a great tool to define shapes: organic and irregular.  It also can be used as a lesson for positive and negative shapes and to teach about outline drawings.....  For very young children and toddlers it is fun to splatter white paint on blue paper. 

My boys and I love the spunky little pig named Olivia who is always full of endless ideas and believes anything is possible.  I love to read the original Olivia book to my children and my art students because she visits an art museum and is so inspired by a Jackson Pollock painting that she goes home and decides to make one of her own and splatters paint all over the painting (and makes a big mess) just like Jackson Pollock.  During my summer art class the kids had the opportunity to do the same thing outside in my backyard and they loved it!

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a 1955 children's classic.  Harold is a curious 4 year old boy with a purple crayon that has the power to create a world of his own just by drawing it.  There is no moon, so he draws one.  There is nowhere to walk, so he draws a path.  He has lots of adventures and in the end he draws his room and his bed and goes to sleep.  I think this book is adorable.  

This is a really fun story about mixing the three primary colors.  It starts with three white mice on a white piece of paper.  Then the mice come across three jars of paint... red, yellow and blue.  Then they start dipping their toes in the colors, creating new colors.  By the end the mice are painting all sorts of colors and having lots of fun.  This book is a must have!

The next book is a story about 2 lizards... Art who is an artist and Max who is an aspiring artist.  Art does not believe that it is possible for Max to be an artist.  Max sets out to prove him wrong and makes Art the subject of his paintings and magically turns Art into a big blob of colorful paint, a long string, a pointillism painting and in the process proves that he is also an artist.  I love this story and highly recommend this book which by the way was just published in 2010.  

Katie and the Mona Lisa is one of a series of books in which a young girl travels with famous artists to learn more about art.  In this book Katie goes to an art museum with her grandma and as she is admiring the Mona Lisa, the picture comes to life and she is taken on an adventure to see many famous works from the Italian Renaissance.  In my experience children find these books intriguing and they are so entertained that they hardly realize they are learning about famous artwork!

Elmer is one of my favorite children's books.  Though it is not an "art book"  it is a great story about the beauty of color.  I have used this book to introduce my students to color and fun ways to use it in art.  This book also teaches a great lesson about being true to yourself.

When Pigasso met Mootisse is a really fun story that is loosely based off of the relationship that Picasso and Matisse had when they were alive.  It is a great story about two artists that see things very differently and eventually come to appreciate their differences and develop a great friendship.

Not a Box is an adorable story about a little bunny that sees a lot of potential in a simple cardboard box.  Though everyone else sees it as a box he creates a race car, a mountain, a building, a robot, a hot air balloon and more.  I will be using this book as part of my introduction to form in my spring art class and one of the projects will be to create something from a cardboard box.

Hello, Red Fox

Last but not least is the book Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle.  This book is so fun and unique.  I love that it is a simple book for children about a little Frog's birthday party but it is really teaching about complementary colors and how if you stare at a color for 10 seconds and then look at a white piece of paper you will see the complement of that color.  Children find it magical and get a laugh out of this book.  This is a great tool for teaching about art.

I hope you will add some of these books to your collection.  I want to give a big thanks to everyone who sent me their recommendations, keep them coming!


  1. What wonderful books! You don't know how much I want to go to Amazon and order all of them RIGHT NOW! :)

  2. Oh how I LOVE Peter Reynolds books! Patrick McDonnell's book "Art" is another one of my favorites! I know what you mean about them making you want to cry! Thanks for posting the link to the activities that go with them. So awesome! I've decided to give one of these kind of inspirational art books to each of my kiddos at our Art Exhibition night to celebrate our spring class :)

  3. I can't wait to get my hands on some of these books...and some of them are already favorites...I just posted about Harold and the Purple Crayon today. http://helpinglittlehands.blogspot.com/2011/03/crayon-on-walls-harold-purple-crayon.html

  4. Harold and the Purple Crayon is one of my favorites. I just discovered Elmer recently and we read 4 different Elmer books when we did the letter E. I have Mouse Paint and Hello Red Fox on hold at the library. I thought they would be appropriate seeing as you are starting your online course with color.
    Thanks for sharing this great list.

  5. I love all these book selections. Some we already have in our home and others I will be going out to buy soon. Thanks for sharing them. Another art related book ww have and love is Luke's Way of Looking. I cannot think of the author at the moment. We love the message of the story as well as the illustrations.