Do you have an art loving kid? These books celebrate many aspects of art whether you’re an artist or just like to know about art, your kids will love these inspiring picture books and chapter books about trips to the museum, famous artists, and making your own art.
Inspiring Children’s Books for Art Lovers
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Vashti is discouraged — she is no artist. She makes a dot on her paper just to prove that she can’t do art. That’s when her teacher encourages her to explore dots. And that changes everything. It’s a marvelous, inspiring story about being brave, trying something new, and seeing the possibilities. I also recommend Ish and Sky Color by this same talented author/illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds.
If Picasso Painted a Snowman by Amy Newbold, illustrated by Greg Newbold
I adore this beautiful book that takes us through a tour of snowman art — more specifically, how 17 famous artists would paint a snowman — from Lichtenstein to Monet to van Gogh. All the snowman are painted in a different style and set in different settings. Use this book to inspire your own snowman painting AND become more familiar with these famous artists’ styles.
Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins, Gail Herbert, and Liz Crump
Anna is an imaginative, curious girl who visits the art museum with her mom. She accidentally sets off an alarm and gets in trouble for eating a snack. Bored, she explores only to discover the place where the artwork is restored. She finds a painting she totally connects with –a grumpy girl like her– and that changes how she sees all of the artwork. Beautiful illustrations of real, diverse art.
Mr. Owliver’s Magic at the Museum by Carolyn Bracken
In a story that changes famous paintings to include animals, you’ll find famous artwork memorialized and celebrated! Mr. Owliver worked as the night watchman at the art museum. He loved seeing the art close up with no crowds, having conversations with the paintings, even imagining he was in the paintings. Then one night, the paintings’ subjects are missing! Has he failed at his job? No! All his painting friends surprise him with a birthday party– a masterpiece of a birthday.
Art & Max by David Wiesner
Exquisitely illustrated, follow the creative journey of two friends, Max and Arthur, who both love to paint but with different levels of experience. Together, the two find brave ways to explore their art. I found this to be incredibly inspiring.
The Art Collector by Jan Wahl
Oscar isn’t an artist but he is an art appreciator. Starting with the red crayon chicken drawn for him by his great-granny, Oscar frames and collects art he loves. The book describes the different paintings, how they seem different to him some days, that he says good-night to them, and how it grows so big that a museum had to be built to hold it. JJ loves this book.
Imagine! by Raúl Colón
A celebration of New York City and the magic of artwork! The illustrations say everything in this wordless picture book…When a skateboarding boy visits the Museum of Modern Art, the paintings come to life. Painted people and animals step out of their frames to exuberantly explore New York City with the boy. They visit a roller coaster, the Statue of Liberty, a hot dog stand, Central Park, and then return to the museum and their canvases. But that’s not the end of the story! The boy finds an empty building wall where he paints a large mural about his joyful day. Colon’s richly textured, earth-colored illustrations sparkle with energy.
Emma and Muse by Nancy Lemon
Emma’s art is inspired by her dog, Muse. But, she gets mad at Muse. So mad that Muse leaves home. Emma feels terrible. She uses art to paint her apologies all over town. Kids will learn a little about artists and their inspiration as well as solving a conflict.
You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, illustrated by Robin Glasser
The little girl leaves her yellow balloon tied up outside the art museum. While the girl and her grandmother visit the artwork inside, the balloon and a pigeon have a wild adventure around NYC outside in delightful parallel stories with no words. What can you do with a wordless picture book like this one? Read ideas here.
Anholt’s Artists Activity Book by Laurence Anholt
If your child loves art, this amazing picture book is for you. It’s half biography and half activity book. You’ll 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!
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk and Lena Anderson
Although the book seems like a picture book, it’s better for older readers who can read chapter books because it’s very text heavy. 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.
The Stories of the Mona Lisa: An Imaginary Museum Tale about the History of Modern Art by Piotr Barsony
My kids and I were engrossed from the first moment we opened this book. 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.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhoodby F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Mira brightens up her world with her colorful paintings. She inspires everyone to paint the city walls with colorful murals.
See recommended famous artist picture book biographies here.
The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr
Celebrating artwork, this magical mystery reveals that the people in the paintings are ALIVE. Of course, the Beaverbrook Gallery paintings have strict rules to prevent humans from discovering this truth. Only Mona Dunn doesn’t always follow the rules. She’s seen by the curator’s son named Sargent who is visiting his estranged father for the summer and they develop a close friendship. Meanwhile, she and the other paintings wonder if the creepy art restorer is an art forger because something is suspicious. The book shows copies of all the paintings including a Salvador Dali which give readers a vivid sense of where much of the book takes place — in the paintings themselves. It’s an excellent, page-turning mystery with important themes about family, forgiveness, and friendship.
Why Is Art Full of Naked People? by Susie Hodge
My 11-year-old, artistically-inclined daughter thinks this is the BEST book! In fact, she says it’s been much better than this year’s not-so-great art teacher at her school. You’ll find out so many useful facts to questions you probably didn’t even know you had such as: Why is everything blurry? Do artists copy each other? Why is art so expensive? This book takes common kid questions and helps children understand and appreciate art in a deeper way. Very interesting!! I’m glad we own it.
Masterpieces Up Close Western Painting from the 14th to 20th Centuries by Claire d’Harcourt
I love the format of this nonfiction art book but very much dislike that no women artists were included. Each famous masterpiece includes close up details on the sidebar which share facts about the paintings, ask questions, and so forth. Lift-the-flaps on the back pages give biographical information about each artist.
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