As a country, we spend a lot of time talking about reading to our children and the importance of literacy. Thankfully! Obviously, literacy is important in and of itself, but the other part of reading to our children is that they need to have an interest in and appreciation for reading in order to pursue higher learning. In the future, they’ll learn about everything from art to math from books. The children’s book suggestions here include two books written by author-artists (or author-art-appreciators) who have made it possible for our kids to start using books to learn about art from a very early age.
This book offers a review of the alphabet in a really clever way. For example, the page for “N” says that “N is for neck” and encourages children to stretch their necks out long like the women in the Modigliani painting. Every page has a suggestion for something to bring out the details of the piece — which is great for someone like me who has simply never been that art inclined. Both of the authors are employed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Katy Friedland is Manager of Family and Children Programs and Marla Shoemaker is Senior Curator of Education. Every piece pictured in this book is contained within the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I loved the idea of this because we haven’t taken our son to our local art museum and probably won’t take him until he’s a little older (although, he did experience the art museum in utero when my husband and I walked the halls tirelessly attempting to start my labor). I like that he’s being exposed to this quality early-on.
Artful Reading by Bob Raczka
This one is right up my alley because the art is all focused on reading. My son loved this because it read like a poem and he could “help” me read it after a few times through by remembering the next rhyming word. I loved the idea of reading about art about reading, and the idea of talking about how people enjoy reading, but I was really impressed by the poetry of this book as well. The prose on each page encouraged Harrison to bring up qualities of the paintings, so he was really engaging in the art in a way that some of other books don’t necessarily encourage.
The author, Bob Raczka, has published 14 or 15 children’s books on art and could really be the mascot for this post. Bob studied art in college and works as an advertising writer by day. He is the father of three children, the oldest of whom ignited his interest in children’s books. In 1995, Bob says that reading “Polar Express” to his first son made him want to write a children’s book. Over the course of the next 5 years, he sent out 50-75 manuscripts – alphabet books and baseball stories. It wasn’t until 2000, when he submitted “No One Saw”, a book that utilized his art background, that he was picked up by Millbrook Press. Fast forward a decade – Bob has published more than a dozen children’s books on art. Currently, he’s writing primarily children’s poetry. The next on my list to check out is Lemonade – How to Squeeze Poems from a Single Word.
While we actually checked out 8-10 children’s books on art in preparation for this post, Artful Reading and A is for Art Museum were favorites in our household for quite a while – which means that my son asked for them twice a day (at naptime and bedtime) for an extended amount of time.
Do you and your child have a favorite children’s book related to art appreciation?