The other night, I watched a Dr. Who episode with the great artist, Vincent Van Gogh. Now, I think fondly think of Van Gogh, as if I knew him. (Just because of this television episode!)
Stories help us remember information. Which is why I love teaching children about great artists using narrative picture books. Here are our favorites, starting with one that was recently re-released, Linnea In Monet’s Garden.
Picture Books About Famous Artists
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk and Lena Anderson
Do you remember this picture book from your childhood? Well, now it’s back in print on it’s 25th anniversary for your own children to enjoy! Linnea travels with her friend, Mr. Bloom, to Paris. There, she learns about Claude Monet and Impressionism. They visit museums with Monet paintings and the sites he painted: his garden, the famous Japanese bridge, and the sunrise over the Seine. The book feels like a scrapbook, it’s filled with full-color Monet paintings, old photographs, and notes throughout the story. Linnea narrates her adventure which includes gems of information shared by Mr. Bloom who knows all about Monet and the stories of the paintings. You and your child enjoy this brilliant way to better understand Monet and Impressionism. Oh, and although the book seems like a picture book, it’s better for older readers who can read chapter books. Linnea in Monet’s Garden is also a short movie. Click here for the trailer.
Anholt’s Artists Activity Book by Laurence Anholt
If your child loves art, run to the store and buy this amazing picture book. It’s half biography and half activity book. We learn about Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse, Monet, and Cezanne and try art activities that imitate each of the artists’ styles. Anholt’s books are perfect for introducing great artists to children!
Leonardo and the Flying Boy by Laurence Anholt
I absolutely adore this picture book about the famous artist DaVinci — Anholt masterfully brings alive Leonardo da Vinci throug the eyes of a young boy named, Zoro, his apprentice. In this story, Zoro watches as da Vinci invents a flying machine. And, Zoro just can’t resist giving it a little test. It’s a delightful story told in comic form. (Don’t miss his other title similar to this, Camille and the Sunflowers.)
When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden
“There once was a young pig named Pigasso” the story begins. Pigasso painted in a most unusual way. “At the same time, there once was a young bull named Mootisse” who painted “big, bold, bright pictures.” In this funny tale, the two artists are neighbors who dislike each other’s art — until one day. This brightly illustrated picture book will entertain and delight your kids — we think it’s hilarious.
Katie Meets The Impressionists by James Mayhew
We first found this picture book at the library when AJ was 3 or 4 and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t order it because it was out of print. The Katie books are a series where Katie visits a museum with her grandmother and steps into a picture and has a grand adventure. You can still order the books from a used bookstore but I hope that one day they’ll publish these books about Katie meeting famous artists again.
Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg
Children follow Claude Monet as he walks through the town to the ocean where he paints. Illustrated in impressionistic watercolors, this is a sweet and simple depiction what Monet’s life must have been like.
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel
Did you know that Henri Rousseau started painting at 40 years of age and it took years for anyone else to believe his art was any good? While I’m not a huge Rousseau fan, I love that this story shows his perseverance to create art – art that now hangs in museums.
The Cat and the Bird: A Children’s Book Inspired by Paul Klee by Geraldine Elschner and Peggy Nille
I found out about The Cat and the Bird on a fantastic blog called Deep Space Sparkle, art lessons for kids. Visit her blog and see how she used the picture book to teach warm and cool colors.
Matisse Dance with Joy by Susan Goldman Rubin
A simple picture book that expresses the feelings one could have while looking at a Matisse painting — “Sometimes I want to dance!” This art board book is one in a series by Goldman Rubin, the others are Andy Warhol’s Colors, Magritte’s Imagination, Jacob Lawrence in the City, and Counting with Wayne Thiebaud.
Me, Frida by Amy Novesky
I went through a big Frida phase after living in Puebla, Mexico for two summer semesters. Her story is so intriguing, as is her art – and Diego Rivera’s as well. This story shares how Frida adapted to San Francisco and learned to go after her dream of painting like her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera.
Touch the Art: Make Van Gogh’s Bed by Julie Appel
I happen to love Van Gogh (even before that Dr. Who episode!) and was horrified to learn how badly we Americans ruin his name. (Thanks to an exchange student from Brussels.) Do you know how it’s pronounced? Anyway, Make Van Gogh’s Bed comes from the Touch the Art series of touch and feel board books by Julie Appel. They’re all delightful introductions to famous artists. Other titles include: Touch the Art: Feed Matisse’s Fish Touch the Art: Tickle Tut’s Toes Touch the Art: Count Monet’s Lilies Touch the Art: Pop Warhol’s Top Touch the Art: Find King Henry’s Treasure Touch the Art: Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair Touch the Art: Catch Picasso’s Rooster
The Stories of the Mona Lisa: An Imaginary Museum Tale about the History of Modern Art by Piotr Barsony
We just were sent this book by the publisher and were engrossed from the first moment we opened it. We see the Mona Lisa re-imagined from the artistic style of modern day painters (Monet, Manet, Cezanne, Picasso, Bacon, Pollock, and others) with famous styles such as cubism, expressionism, fauvism, impressionism, minimalism, surrealism. It’s really cool! A great picture book about the famous painting!
What are your favorite picture books about famous artists?
**Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!