Good art history and art appreciation books for kids are not so easy to find. There are tons of series books on creating art (drawing, painting, crafts, etc.) and a good number of artist biographies, both series and stand-alones. And, of course, the rise in popularity of graphic novels has created an art genre all its own. However, books that help young readers understand the broader concepts of art–how it relates to human culture, how it influences and is influenced by historical time periods, and how it expresses the human soul—are less common. Worthy titles in this area can be used across the curriculum. Here are five new titles providing a wealth of information and insight for all ages—PS through 12. Enjoy!
Exquisite describes this book. The author draws in her young audience with a “look and discover” approach. Die-cut pages preceding each of ten famous paintings lead children to explore what’s behind the openings. The book is a counting book too, as the cut-aways go from one to ten. When the page turns from the cut-outs to the full painting, children encounter a concrete poem which perfectly captures the initial impression of the image. What a wonderful way to introduce young children to famous works of art. Artists range from Leonardo da Vinci to Paul Klee. This is a perfect read-aloud book and would make an excellent storytime choice.
This is the latest in an award-winning series by author Gillian Wolfe. The book surveys seventeen paintings and examines the tricks artists use to make viewers see the works in different ways. Examples include trompe l’oeil, surrealism, pointillism, use of light and texture, and multiple viewpoints. Artists represented include Escher, Hockney, Chagall, Pollock, Durer, Seurat, Dali, Van Dyck, Lichtenstein and others. The text explains the various techniques used by the artists in a way that invites discussion. It’s also just plain fun to look at these famous paintings and figure out what the artist was up to!
All of the works included in this attractive book are part of the collection at the National Gallery of Art. It is written by museum educators with years of experience in helping young people connect to art. The book is arranged thematically in seven chapters. Each explores an approach to art: studying nature, telling stories, observing everyday life, etc. The text is broken up into short blocks interspersed with reproductions of paintings. There is abundant information about individual painters and specific works of art, as well as general background on art history and technique. To top it off, there are 40 activities to help budding artists experience their creativity firsthand.
The latest title in the excellent Eye on Art series from Lucent Books (Gale Cengage) explores this important era in American art. The text traces the movement’s historical roots to nineteenth century England and explains its key characteristics of simplicity, beauty, and function. Arts and Crafts design encompasses architecture, furniture and decorative objects created by well-known artists and architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. As with all titles in this series, there are beautiful full-color photographs, diagrams, clear text, informative sidebars, quotes, and a bibliography to help middle school/high school students gain insight into the world of art.
Continuing in the tradition of the worthy Handy Answer Book series, this title offers an excellent introduction to art history for middle school/high school students. It is useful for both research and browsing. The book covers art from the prehistoric to the modern across the global spectrum. It provides an overview of history, techniques, materials, forms, colors, style, the nature of artistic expression, and how to look at art. This is followed by a survey of the main periods and movements of art history, represented by almost 150 color images of famous works. There is also a glossary of terms for quick reference.
Guest Blogger: Ann, Mackin Collection Management Librarian. Before coming to Mackin, Ann worked as a middle school/high school library media specialist. At Mackin she creates collection development lists for customers and keeps up with new publications in language arts, fine arts, history, religion, and biography.