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25 Awesome Art Books for Kids

Art Books for Kids

I’m back with another list of 25 more of my favorite art books!  Be forewarned, this is a long post.  I have given you extra details about the books and some ideas to spark your lesson planning.

It is no secret that I love children’s books.  Previously, I wrote a list of 25 amazing art books which I like to use in my art classroom.   This has been one of my most viewed posts.  Since then, I have discovered some new books that I wanted to share with you.  Some I use along with a specific lesson plan, others are great for the start of the year or when I have a few extra minutes in class and other are nice for kids to browse on their own from the class bookshelf.

Don’t feel you need to stock a whole bookshelf of art books if this is your first year.  Start out by purchasing a few of your favorites each year.  My first year teaching I spent so much time ordering and checking books out from the local library.  It is also good to see them in person before you decide that you need it for your classroom.  It is helpful to look at preview pages (many times Amazon gives you a glimpse of some of the pages) to be sure it is right for your teaching situation.  Half.com is a good place to find discounted used books.  You could also talk to your school librarian to see if there is money in the library budget to purchase art books.

(Disclosure:  Links to the books are affiliate links, which means I get a small compensation for sales.  I only link to products I recommend and use.  Thanks for supporting my blogging hobby!)

25 Art Books for Kids

Books about Color

1. Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin.  This book goes great with a monster art project, scribbling and color mixing.. I have one in this lesson plan bundle.

2.  The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.  The crayons write letters to their owner in this charming story.  I read this to my students before they made an All About Me crayon earlier this year.

3.  Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.  This is the adventures of a boy named Harold and his purple crayon.  I have used this book with kindergarteners to make monochromatic collages like these.  I also like this idea incorporating the child’s photograph.

4.  The Wonders of the Color Wheel by Charles Ghigna.  This is a simple introduction to the color wheel, in easy to understand language for young kids.  It is appropriate for Pre-K to about 1st grade.  I think it might be too babyish for kids older than that.   An obvious lesson idea is to make a simple color wheel with paint!

5.  My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess.  A beautiful book all about colors and feelings.  After reading this book, you could make a color collage and write sense poems to go with your pictures.


6.  Mouse Magic by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  The mice from Mouse Paint are back.  This time they are exploring complimentary colors.  Here are some fun complimentary color collages.


Books about Artists & Art History

7.  A Child’s Introduction to Art: The World’s Greatest Paintings and Sculptures.  This is a great art history book for kids.  See a more detailed review on this blog post.

8.  A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant.  I’ll admit, I haven’t read this book to my classes yet, but I have it on the bookshelf for kids to look at.  I just love love love the beautiful, mixed media illustrations in this story book.  Patty Palmer has a beautiful lesson plan about imagination drawings that goes along with this book.

9.  Henri’s Scissors by Jeannette Winter.  Another good  book about Henri Matisse and his cut paper pictures.  Here are some patterned paintings and cut paper collages that my students made.

10. Snail Trail by Jo Saxton.  This is the story of a snail who looks at various modern artworks to find the one that looks like him.  I like that there are actual photographs of several different modern artworks to look at.

11.  The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America by Bob Raczka.  We read this on Veteran’s Day and my students made pictures using symbols, icons and landmarks of America.  This would be a good book for students studying American history.

12. Baby Einstein: The ABC’s of Art.  It’s almost too bad that the book has the name “Baby Einstein” because really I think this book is appropriate for ages K-3.  Each letter of the alphabet has a different artwork to go along with it.  For instance, H is for Horse and it shows a blue horse by Franz Marc with some “looking questions.”

13. The Year with Grandma Moses.  Each page in this book has a beautiful reproduction of one of Grandma Moses’ folk art paintings.  The book takes you through the seasons and you get a sense of the community she lived in.  After reading this book, my 2nd graders make winter landscapes and learn about foreground, middleground and background and how to show depth using basic techniques such as size.  This lesson was shared with me by the wonderful art teachers (Thanks Jeannie and Karen!) in the district I taught in during my first year of teaching at the elementary level.

14. Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly. I love this book. The illustrations are lovely. It references Picasso, but is not entirely about him. It’s good for a class who maybe has already learned a little about Picasso. This is a story about Emily, whose parents are divorcing and now she has two homes. She goes through her own “blue period” of sadness. Her art teacher asks the class to make personal collages about their homes. She doesn’t know what to do because she has two homes now. She ends up making a beautiful meaningful collage about all the parts of her life that are dear to her heart. I read this book to my third graders and they are finishing personal collages about their lives. I will post about this project here soon.

Creativity & Confidence

15.  Ish by Peter H. Reynolds.  This would be great for a sub plan!  Read the book Ish and then divide a paper to create your own “ish” drawings.  There is a printable template here.

16.  Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre.  This is probably the children’s book that is picked off my bookshelf most by the kids.  I have a full review of this book here and I love this Too Much Glue art project from Painted Paper.

17.  A Little Bit of Oomph! by Barney Saltzberg.  From the author of “Beautiful Oops!” comes another creative, interactive children’s book.  This book inspires kids to put a little bit “extra” into their work, a little bit of “oomph” to make something beautiful.

18.  Let’s Paint! by Gabriel Alborozo.  This book teaches children through its artsy illustrations and text that their ideas are valuable.  It shows how different styles and ways of working are valid and beautiful.  It’s a quirky little book and fun to read with a few moments left in class, but I don’t think it’s one to build a whole lesson around.  So, I included it because I love the illustration style, but I don’t think it needs to be one of the first art books you buy for your classroom.


19.  Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World.  Ed Emberley rocks!  This is the drawing book that my students seem to use the most.  Lots and lots of little things to draw to make your own world.

20.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.  This is a long chapter book and the movie is very good also.  The book has many pages of beautiful black and white graphite drawings that are perfect for teaching about cross-hatching.  I photocopy the pages for the kids to look at while they make their own cross-hatched animals or portraits.


21.  Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett.  My principal found this book in our school library on a day when I was unexpectedly sick from school at the last minute.  (Too many sick days this year!!)  After finding this book, she had the substitute teacher read the book and the kids glued down a piece of yarn to their paper.  Then, they drew around the piece of yarn to make a picture.



22.  The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Elhert.  The inspiring story of Lois Elhert and her life as an artist.  This book will show you her process to creating artwork for books and encourage you to explore your own creativity.

23.  Flo & Wendell by William Wegman.  Read my book review and see the accompanying lesson plan on a previous blog post.  Also, I interviewed Wegman in this audio recording.


24.  Look! Look! Look! at Sculpture by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.  A nice introduction to 3-d art, with several photo examples of famous sculptures.  Good for younger kids.

General Art Inspiration

25.  An ABC of What Art Can Be by Meher McArthur.  A fun ABC book with many introductory art vocabulary words.. including:  “K is for Kiln, an oven that’s hot.  You can bake clay inside it and make a nice pot.”  or “R is for Rough draft, a quick first design.  Erase it! Redo it! – until it’s just fine.”


Well, I hope you enjoyed my list of art books.  Are there any that you would recommend to other teachers?



Be sure to check out my first post about amazing art books.


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About Marcia Beckett

Marcia is an elementary art teacher and loves painting, drawing, sculpture, art journaling and clay. Her blog, Art is Basic, features many exciting art projects for kids.

6 Responses to 25 Awesome Art Books for Kids

  1. Megan says:

    What a great post! Thank you for all of these.

  2. Jena says:

    I just added about half those books to my amazon wish list! Most of the others I already have in my classroom! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Abbie says:

    Great list! I’m looking for a kids’ story book about perspective. I really like The Pencil, but I’d love for one with even more examples of one point (or 2 point?!) perspective. Do you have any suggestions? (Please feel free to email me if you know a great one.) Thanks so very much!

  4. Suzanne says:

    The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds is an awesome book to add to your list. You will love it!

  5. Betty Chapman says:

    Art and Max by David Weisner

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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