Last night we hosted a wonderful event, A Day in the Life of an Infant Toddler Center and a Day in a Preschool in Reggio Emilia presented by Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini. The Carle’s Art Studio is very much inspired by the philosophy of the early childhood centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy and each year The Carle coordinates Reggio Emilia styled programming (even including trips to Italy to observe and learn from their classrooms) for educators.
These early educators are some of my favorite customers in our Shop because they are always so excited and eager to discover new books for their classrooms and centers. They always have lots of questions, looking for classic as well as contemporary picture books that use themes or concepts they would like to explore with children. Yesterday, there were lots of requests for picture books that explore art appreciation for pre-schoolers and so I’ll share with you some of our recommendations.
There are just so many picture books about art, and some of my favorites fall into distinct categories:
CATEGORY 1: The Mentor
These books, especially, strike a note with art educators because they are books that focus on a teacher/mentor or friend giving confidence and permission to the main character to make art and to see things in their own unique way. Some of my favorites from this category:
The Dot and Ish by Peter Reyolds
The Art Lesson and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush by Tomie dePaola
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle
Eric Carle’s newest book is a tribute to one of his own favorite artists, Franz Marc. Marc’s surrealist art gave Eric (and so his book’s main character) the freedom and inspiration to make art his own way.
CATEGORY 2: Art & the Imagination
These books stress that art has the power to bring imagination to life and in that way empowers the child characters in other aspects in their life. Favorites from this category include:
Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
Chalk by Bill Thomson
Lily Brown’s Paintings by Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis
CATEGORY 3: Art Concepts
There are so many wonderful books that touch on concepts of early art education, such as mixing colors and shapes. These are some of my favorites:
The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
Many of Lois Ehlert books, like this one, work really well in the classroom because students can get inspired to play in similar ways with colors and shapes, making them into animals and objects.
CATEGORY 4: The Many Faces of Art
These books celebrate the breadth and expanse of different types and forms of art. In my experience this often includes a lot of puns, especially with using the character’s name as “Art”. Some favorites:
Art & Max by David Wiesner
Art by Patrick McDonnell
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
I love the way that Michael Hall explores and plays with textures and collage in this colorful book.
I’m sure this list can go on and on, but I’d love to hear some of your favorite suggestions! What are your favorite picture books that stress an appreciation of art?
Tags: art, Art & Max, art education, Chalk, Color Zoo, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Ish, Jeremy Draws a Monster, Lily Brown's Paintings, Little Blue and Little Yellow, Mouse Paint, Perfect Square, picture books, preschool, Reggio Emilia, teachers, The Art Lesson, The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse, The Color Kittens, The Dot, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, White Rabbit's Color Book