As an elementary librarian, I work very closely with the art teacher at my school. Our friendship and the proximity of our workspaces is definitely one reason, but the natural pairing of art and books is the main. Picture book biographies, stories about community art projects, illustrations that teach different art forms, even art activity books themselves highlight how art and books go together like peanut butter and jelly. Comfortable and classic. With this in mind, I’ve put together a list that includes art books for kids I’ve sourced while creating lessons and others I’ve hunted down to gift to kids from age 1 to 92.
You could be looking for art books for kids for any number of reasons. Maybe you’re encouraging a budding artist in your home. Maybe you’re getting a jump on your holiday shopping. Maybe you’re reconnecting with your own childlike sense of wonder. Children are natural artists, and the books I’ve included in this round up all touch on the magic that happens before inhibitions kick in and we begin to doubt ourselves. Whether you’re looking to learn about famous artists or get the skills to become a famous artist yourself, there is something for everyone in this list below.
Art Stories For Kids
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy, Teresa Howell, and Rafael López
This lovely book follows a young girl named Mira. Her personal art and paintings inspire the entire community to brighten their dull neighborhood with fantastic murals. Gorgeous illustrations will inspire!
Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson
A celebration of the fact that art is everywhere and can be made from anything! This simple story follows a young artist as they create found art from everything around them.
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos
An exuberant explosion of color and celebration of the wildness of art. This free-spirited story will delight little artmakers and their parents alike.
Art Biographies for Kids
The Met Georgia O’Keeffe: She saw the world in a flower by Gabrielle Balkan and Josy Bloggs
This newer series, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gives background and craft insight about different visual artists. In this installment, we learn what inspired Georgia O’Keeffe to look closely at and paint the natural world.
The Met Faith Ringgold: Narrating the World in Pattern and Color by Sharna Jackson and Andrea Pippins
From the aforementioned series put out by The Met, this book introduces young readers to the stirring work of Faith Ringgold. Budding artists interested in sewing or scrap art will be drawn in by descriptions of Ringgold’s fabric illustrations.
Zaha Hadid (Little People, BIG DREAMS) by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Asun Amar
The Little People, Big Dreams series does a great job of covering subjects from across disciplines, and this title about Zaha Hadid, a sharp architect, is one of the best.
Art Activity Books for Kids
Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists of All Ages by Susan Schwake and Rainer Schwake
Want to give a child a year’s worth of art lessons in a single tome? This is the book for you. Interaction, approachable lessons are grouped by medium and offer hands-on exploration of everything art.
Stone Painting for Kids: Designs to Spark Your Creativity by F. Sehnaz Bac
Rock painting has really taken on a new life in the past few years, and this book can guide young ones in creating small, portable works of art that can be displayed in homes or slipped into nature to delight unwitting neighbors.
What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Principles Activity Book by Laleña Garcia and Caryn Davidson
An art activity book with meaning! This book, developed by two seasoned educators, presents the 13 principles of the Black Lives Matter movement in child friendly language. Each principle has a place for reflection and a striking coloring page.
All the Things: How to Draw Books for Kids by Alli Koch
It is what it says it is: easy-to-follow mini lessons that teach young artists how to draw…everything. A great gift for a child who is always doodling, or an adult who misses being a child who doodles.
Art Books for Babies
Goodnight, Starry Night by Amy Guglielmo and Julie Appel
Baby’s first art book? This board book introduces the tiniest readers to class works of art in a format that can stand up to any slobber or slime.
Once Baby has the classics, it’s time for them to meet some modern artists. This board book is made up of infant-friendly black and white images designed by modern masters. The contrast is for the kiddos, but the adults will love it, too.
Pantone: Colors by Helen Dardik
There is no shortage of board books that teach the colors, but Pantone has given the concept a fresh face. Punchy graphics matching the Pantone color being taught will be enjoyed by all readers.
Art Reference Books for Kids
The Ultimate Art Museum by Ferren Gipson
This book is a museum. Think: the cafe, the lobby, the tourists, the galleries, the narration…this book is a museum. An excellent gift for a young art lover or even just someone who hasn’t made it to an in-person cultural experience in awhile.
Women in Art: 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
This informative, encyclopedic book includes everyone from giants of the art world to lesser known heroes, highlighting work across time periods and artistic mediums. The dreamy, quirky illustrations will introduce readers to a new favorite artist: Rachel Ignotofsky, the author.