If you’ve noticed your little one takes his or her arts and crafts very seriously (who says a work of fine art can’t be created with a good old-fashioned set of crayons?), you probably want to cultivate that passion early. Your child may be too young to appreciate hours at an art museum, but luckily, there are plenty of truly gorgeous kids books featuring illustrations that’ll mesmerize your baby Picasso.
The illustrations in the following books are sophisticated enough for an adult to appreciate — a major bonus if your child asks you to read their favorite book aloud at least 20 times a week. Plus, they also have beautiful words and fun plotlines. What more could you and your budding artist ask for?
1. Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin
Before she became a best-selling author, Emily Winfield Martin was known for the gorgeous prints she sold in her Etsy shop. This bedtime rhyme book asks the reader to close their eyes and think about what their dream animal will be. A fox? A bear? The possibilities are endless. Also available as a board book, Dream Animals is the perfect way to say goodnight to your little artist.
Dream Animals, $16.19 at Amazon
2. Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! by Sarah Suzuki, Illustrated by Ellen Weinstein
If you’re one of the adults who waited for hours to spend a few minutes in Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” (*raises hand*), this book, written by Museum of Modern Art curator Sarah Suzuki, is the perfect way to share the incredible artist’s work — and where she draws her inspiration — with your child.
Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity!, $16.40 at Amazon
3. Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly, Illustrated by Lisa Brown
When Emily’s parents split up and her dad moves out, she goes through a rough patch. But she finds comfort in the art of Picasso because he too “was sad for a while,” prompting him to paint only in blue. So Emily decides to be like Picasso and experiment with a blue period in her own art. In addition to beautiful illustrations, this book handles the topic of family upheaval with an empathy that will be appreciated by children going through similar experiences as Emily.
Emily’s Blue Period, $17.99 at Amazon
4. Imagine a City by Elise Hurst
Cultivate your young artist’s imagination with Hurst’s charming world of imagination, where anything is possible, from a bunny riding a bike to a lion who’s a total bookworm. Each page features simple but beautiful illustrations of magical places your child will clamor to visit. And we adults will be just as eager to go on the journey.
Imagine a City, $16.94 at Amazon
5. My Museum by Joanne Liu
If you think your little artist would love an art museum but there’s not one nearby, My Museum is the next best thing. Follow along as a little boy spends his first day at an art museum. When it gets crowded and hard to see the paintings, he realizes art truly is all around us, from another visitor’s tattoos to the patterns the sun makes on the floor.
My Museum, $13.86 at Amazon
6. An Artist’s Alphabet by Norman Messenger
There are a lot of alphabet books out there, but few are as beautifully illustrated as An Artist’s Alphabet. For each letter, Messenger has created an intricate, unique shape. Some are straightforward (an acrobat for A), and some associations are left to the readers’ interpretation — after all, it’s never too early to teach kids art is subjective.
An Artist’s Alphabet, $14.88 at Amazon
7. The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna
This delightful picture book follows 5-year-old Eddie as she searches for the perfect birthday present for her mom. The requirements are that it must be fluffy, little and squishy, and Eddie’s search takes her to all the neighborhood businesses, including the florist, the boutique, the butcher and the antiques dealer. The charming message and lovely, old-fashioned illustrations make this one a staple for your little artist’s library.
The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy, $15.42 at Amazon
8. Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) by C.G. Esperanza
When it’s time to teach your little one about mixing colors, look no further than this delightful book about a young girl who joins forces with a blue elephant to experiment with creating the most beautiful colors possible. In this practical, fun and gorgeously illustrated book, Esperanza includes rhythmic stanzas to tell the story of how this unique pair learns the ins and outs of mixing colors.
Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!), $16.99 at Amazon
9. I (Heart) Art: The Work We Love From the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Perfect for a middle schooler, this lovely collection from the Metropolitan Museum of Art features 150 pieces that live in the Met. The pieces are sorted by theme (including people, animals, and places) and each is accompanied by a description and insight into the art and what inspired it.
I (Heart) Art, $11.12 at Amazon
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