20 Picture Books to Inspire Young Artists
Check out these picture Books to Inspire Young Artists of all ages! Let kids read about and get inspired by the beauty of art & what makes it so universal.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” ~ Pablo Picasso
I think this quote by Picasso is the perfect way to describe what’s happening to the world today. Kids are natural artists; but we adults end up stifling their creativity and imagination with all kinds of rules. When what we should actually be doing is encouraging them to build their imagination and explore all forms of art.
Introducing kids to arts and crafts is just one step – we need to take that further and imbibe a love for art. Encouraging kids to understand and explore art is more than just learning to mix colors – they learn about history, about humans across the world and how the world is evolving.
If you’re wondering how you’re going to teach your kids all this, don’t worry – books are here to help! We’ve drawn up a list of the top 20 picture books about art for kids, that are filled with gorgeous illustrations but also tell a meaningful story at the same time. There are books for all ages here, so go ahead and take your pick!
20 Picture Books to Inspire Young Artists
1. Harold and the Purple Crayon
This is an adorable little story that toddlers and preschoolers can identify with – a boy who goes on a walk when he’s supposed to go to sleep! Harold has with him a large purple crayon, which is enough for him to create a world filled with excitement and details. The book shows kids that an active imagination is the only tool they need.
2. The Dot
Paul Klee said, “A line is a dot that went for a walk”, indicating that every great piece of art starts in a small place – a dot! This book by Peter H. Reynolds tells kids that no matter what anyone says, we all have that creative dot within us – the one that’ll take us places if we only try! A good pick for International Dot Day.
3. What Makes a Rainbow?
This is a delightful little book for toddlers who’ll love seeing a ribbon of the rainbow peeking out of every page! It’s a great way to learn about different colors, as well as how all of them come together to create something even more beautiful.
4. The Big Orange Splot
This is one of those books that subtly conveys the message of diversity and how being different actually makes us better. It’s also a great lesson in turning adversity to our favor, like Mr. Plumbeam painted around his orange splot!
5. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More
Every parent on this planet is familiar with the scene of their little one standing in front of their wall, covered in scribbles and drawings! This fun book is perfect for preschoolers, celebrating this stage when art has no limits and can appear anywhere – on the wall, the ceiling or their feet!
6. I’m Not Just a Scribble
Here is another book about inclusivity and how art can bring it about. Poor Scribble gets shunned by other drawings, but he’s confident enough to stand up for himself and show the other drawings that they’re all in this together. A lovely little book for younger kids.
7. Mouse Paint
You’ve heard of the song about three blind mice, but these are three white mice who can certainly see everything – especially colors! Young kids will marvel at how colors mix to form other colors, and the paper collage-like illustrations may give you some ideas for a new craft!
8. Let’s Play
Similar to The Dot, this book is also about a yellow dot who’s super excited and sets out on a fun journey! Kids can follow the dot as it travels, through illustrations that are very basic and simple, but artful all the same. The book helps little kids appreciate the simple beauty of something as small as a dot.
9. A is for Artist
You can’t go wrong by choosing a book that contains paintings from the Getty Museum! This unique alphabet book picks out details from over 20 famous paintings by artists like Degas, van Gogh and Cezanne. Can’t think of a better way to teach preschoolers their letters!
10. I Spy Colors in Art
If the kids can learn their letters through art, why not learn about colors too? This excellent book features the works of artists from all over the world, in gorgeous detail. Kids can spend a lot of time poring over the pictures and pointing out the details and colors.
11. Rain Fish
The Rain Fish is one of those books you’ll want to treasure forever. Lois Elhert weaves a beautiful story about fish that come alive when it rains, with all the bits and pieces that float in rivers and streams during rain. The artwork is spectacular, and teaches kids a lesson about how the unlikeliest things can turn into gorgeous art.
This is the perfect book to kickstart some craft projects in your home! The book features faces made from all kinds of materials, which will give kids ideas on using odds and ends lying around their home to create art.
13. My Museum
A trip to the museum may sound a little overwhelming for early school goers, or even middle schoolers! However, this book helps to look at it in a different way, and shows us that art is all around us, and not necessarily in a museum alone.
When your name is Swatch, it’s only a matter of common sense that your passion is color! The only problem is that Swatch wants to make the colors do what she wants – which doesn’t go down well with the colors! A fun book for early to middle school goers.
15. Beautiful OOPS!
Oops is a word we always associate with negatively – spilled milk or a torn book. But Barney Saltzberg’s book shows us that it doesn’t have to be so; an Oops can be the start of something new, something even more beautiful! A great book to teach kids to overcome adversity and make the most of mistakes.
16. Maybe Something Beautiful
Art can transform lives, and so can little artists! Based on a true story, Isabel Campoy’s book celebrates the power of art in any form, and how people can get together for a good cause to bring about real change. A lovely book that’s relevant in today’s times.
17. Willy’s Pictures
Kids learn better when humor is used, and this book is an excellent example of that. Willy paints famous paintings like the Mona Lisa – but he paints himself and his friends into them! The book features full color foldout pictures of original works of art by artists like Da Vinci, Raphael, Manet and others.
18. The Art Book for Children
This is a book that kids can grow with, especially once they start being able to identify famous paintings. The book features 30 artists including earlier painters like Matisse and Rembrandt to more contemporary ones like Warhol and Sherman.
19. Museum Trip
Take a regular museum visit a step further with a question – what if you suddenly became a part of the art you see? Older kids will have fun imagining exciting scenarios along with this book by Barbara Lehman.
20. Looking at Pictures
As kids get older, they can look beyond just the colors and style of art. This book teaches them how to appreciate art, by looking at finer details and enabling them to build a certain ‘eye’ for good art.
Most of these books are pretty popular and easily available everywhere – some have even won awards! You can get these online by shopping here. While you’re at it, you may also like to explore famous artists and their work. When reading these with your child, take it slow – if your child wants to pause the story to look at the pictures, let her – that’s the point of the whole exercise! Let our kids learn that art can unite people, solve differences and help us bring about change for good!