Art History For Kids
My Top 10 Art History Picture Books For Kids!

My Top 10 Art History Picture Books For Kids!

10. Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder. By Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Boris Kolikov.

A playful introduction to Alexander Calder and his wire sculptures. The story zooms in primarily on his circus maquettes, which will evidently spark the imaginations of your littlest of students. Recommended for: Grades K-2.

9. The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art. By Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpré.

One of my daughter’s favourites! She absolutely loves the the pictures in this book, which places emphasis on the harmony of colour and sound in all the imagery. Recommended for: Grades 2-4.

*8. Just Being Dali: The story of Artist Salvador Dali. By Amy Guglielmo, illustrated by Brett Helquist.

Guglielmo’s latest book release. The illustrations are beautiful and intriguing. I love how the author focuses in on all of Dali’s little quirks. Recommended for: Grades 2 to 6.

*7. Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe.

A serious book about Basquiat’s life story, honing in on his relationship with his mother who suffered from mental illness. Recommended for students ages 9 and up.

*6. Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky. By Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpré.  

Another gorgeous book by this stellar duo! Children can really dive into Van Gogh’s paintings thanks to all the vibrate dream-like pictures. Not to mention, it’s also a humble and poetic read. Recommended for: Grades 1 to 6.

*5. Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol. Written and illustrated by James Warhola.

I absolutely love this silly story by Andy Warhol’s nephew Jamie, author and illustrator of this playful picture book. FYI: Warhola has written an additional children’s book about Andy’s many many maaany cats. Recommended for: Grades 2 to 5.

*4. Frida Kahlo & Her Animalitos. By Monica Brown, illustrated by John Parra.

In my opinion, this is the BEST of all the Frida Kahlo picture books out there! I love how the author focuses on Frida’s resilience and perseverance, in addition to her grand love of animals. Recommended for: Grades 2 to 6.

*3. The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau. By Michelle Markel, illustrated by Amanda Hall.

My students absolutely adore gazing at the illustrations in this book. It always sparks great conversations and a game of “cherche et trouve“. Markel really captures the essence of Rousseau in all of the book’s illustrations. Recommended for: Grades 1 to 6.

*2. Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing! By Kay Haring, illustrated by Robert Neubecker,

If you read this book to your students, I guarantee you they will fall madly in love with Haring! Ever since I read this book to my grade 2s and 3s back in January, they’ve been sneaking his wiggly figures into all their artworks every chance they get! Recommended for: Grades K to 6.

*1. Pocket Full of Colors: The magical world of Mary Blair, Disney artist extraordinaire. By Amy Guglielmo, illustrated by Jacqueline Tourville.

My personal favourite. The images are bright, cheerful, and the story offers so much hope to all those aspiring artists that don’t fit the “mold”. A great way to generate conversation about gender stereotypes and how much has evolved over the last 100 years. Recommended for: Grades K to 4.

I am so passionate about merging literacy with art history that months ago I began designing digital task cards to help support elementary and art teachers alike in their classrooms. So far I have 8 Boom Card decks that serve as book companions for 8 of the art history picture books mentioned above (all of which have been indicated with an asterisk*). You can check them out, in addition to many of my other art history resources, by visiting my Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s shop: smART Studios with Ms. Hope.

Cheers, and happy reading with your aspiring little artists!

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