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Artists: Picture Books For Kids

They say art is subjective, but they'll change their minds once they see our ultimate list of books about artists! Whether your little ones are interested in painting, dance, writing, photography, music, or more, we've gathered the best books to educate your little prodigies and help them find their muse. We're sure they're going to create many masterpieces.

“Every artist was first an amateur." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Poem for Peter book
#1
A Poem for Peter
Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Lou Fancher, Steve Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day. The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

The Art of Miss Chew book
#2
The Art of Miss Chew
Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Patricia Polacco's signature illustration style vividly tells this emotional story based on her own childhood and her own start as an artist. I love the personal attention and care both Mr. Donovan and Miss Chew give her in helping her overcome her struggles with reading and also excel at her passion—art.

After spending the summer with her artist grandmother, Trisha knows she wants to be an artist, too. She’s thrilled when her sketches get her into Miss Chew’s special art class at the high school. A substitute teacher tells her she’s wasting time on art when she should be studying – but fortunately, this is one battle that Miss Chew and Trisha are up for! This true story shows just how important a teacher can be in a child’s life – and celebrates the power of art itself.

The Dot book
#3
The Dot
Written and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

All about a little girl's journey to discover her artistic talent but more especially her self-confidence! I love that after a little encouragement from her very wise and positive teacher, she takes it upon herself to pass along the lesson she learned to a little boy in her same predicament.

Vashti believes that she cannot draw, but her art teacher's encouragement leads her to change her mind.

The Magical Life of Mr. Renny book
#4
The Magical Life of Mr. Renny
Written and illustrated by Leo Timmers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When he is unable to sell his paintings and has no money for food, Mr. Renny meets a man who is able to make his paintings come to life.

Claudia & Moth book
#5
Claudia & Moth
Written and illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

A small girl with a passion for nature turns to her new passion for art as the seasons turn colder. Claudia loves butterflies. Blue ones. Yellow ones. Purple ones with dots. And since she can’t take them home, she paints them in all their beautiful colors. But when winter comes, there are no more butterflies to paint…until she finds a little moth. Suddenly, Claudia sees winter in a whole new light.

  1. The Art Lesson - Having learned to be creative in drawing pictures at home, young Tommy is dismayed when he goes to school and finds the art lesson there much more regimented.

  2. If Picasso Painted a Snowman - The Book Snob Mom - This was a great introduction to a host of very famous painters in an approachable and entirely enjoyable way, demonstrating what a snowman might look like in each of their signature styles!

  3. Willow - The Book Snob Mom - This book is a reminder that sometimes it's not the teachers who always have a profound impact on the students... sometimes it's the other way around. Willow's positivity, kindness and resilience despite continuous criticism from her art teacher allow her to break down barriers and touch her teacher's heart, changing her for the better. The illustrations are bright and just the right amount messy... just like Willow herself.

  4. The Night Gardener - Everyone on Grimloch Lane enjoys the trees and shrubs clipped into animal masterpieces after dark by the Night Gardener, but William, a lonely boy, spots the artist, follows him, and helps with his special work.

Draw! book
#10
Draw!
Written and illustrated by Raul Colon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Based on his own childhood, beloved and award-winning artist Raúl Colón’s wordless book is about the limitless nature of creativity and imagination. A boy alone in his room. Pencils. Sketchbook in hand. What would it be like to go on safari? Imagine. Draw… A boy named Leonardo begins to imagine and then to draw a world afar—first a rhinoceros, and then he meets some monkeys, and he always has a friendly elephant at his side. Soon he finds himself in the jungle and carried away by the sheer power of his imagination, seeing the world through his own eyes and making friends along the way.

Henri's Scissors book
#11
Henri's Scissors
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

An introduction to the life and paper-cutout art of Henri Matisse describes his early sketching hobby, famous paintings and the illness that confined him to a wheelchair and inspired his sophisticated paper-cutout masterworks.

Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! book
#12
Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee!
Written by Andrea J Loney and illustrated by Keith Mallett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

James Van Der Zee was just a young boy when he saved enough money to buy his first camera. He took photos of his family, classmates, and anyone who would sit still for a portrait. By the fifth grade, James was the school photographer and unofficial town photographer. Eventually he outgrew his small town and moved to the exciting, fast-paced world of New York City. After being told by his boss that no one would want his or her photo taken -by a black man, - James opened his own portrait studio in Harlem. He took photographs of legendary figures of the Harlem Renaissance--politicians such as Marcus Garvey, performers including Florence Mills, Bill -Bojangles- Robinson, and Mamie Smith--and ordinary folks in the neighborhood too. Everyone wanted fancy portraits by James Van Der Zee. Winner of Lee & Low's New Voices Award, Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! tells the story of a groundbreaking artist who chronicled an important era in Harlem and showed the beauty and pride of its people.

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing book
#13
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
Written by Kay Haring and illustrated by Robert Neubecker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Iconic pop artist Keith Haring comes to life for young readers in this picture book biography lovingly written by his sister This one-of-a-kind book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his meteoric rise to fame. It sheds light on this important artist’s great humanity, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment art world. Reproductions of Keith's signature artwork appear in scenes boldly rendered by Robert Neubecker. This is a story to inspire, and a book for Keith Haring fans of all ages to treasure.

I Have an Idea! book
#14
I Have an Idea!
Written and illustrated by Herve Tullet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

From one of the true creative geniuses of this generation comes a unique meditation on and celebration of the magic of the birth of a simple idea. Sparkling with visual wit and bubbling with imagination, this is a richly emotional exploration of the creative process: from an initial tentative inkling, to the frustration of chasing the wrong notion, to finally the exhilaration of capturing—and nurturing—just the right idea. I Have an Idea! is a scrumptious cloth-spined package of color and inspiration equally at home on a child's bookshelf, in a new graduate's backpack, or atop a creative's desk.

  1. Viva Frida - Bilingual text, accompanied by colorful photographs, explores the famous artist's life, and illuminates the laughter, love, and tragedy that influenced her work.

  2. Rabbityness - Tells the story of a rabbit whose love of music and art inspires other rabbits even after he disappears.

  3. Rosa's Animals - Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eug�nie, and befriended "Buffalo Bill" Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal's anatomy and wearing men's clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time. Among the artworks discussed are The Horse Fair and Ploughing in the Nivernais. Along with her life story are a list of museums that house her work, a bibliography, and an index.

  4. Cloth Lullaby - Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) was a world-renowned modern artist noted for her sculptures made of wood, steel, stone, and cast rubber. Her most famous spider sculpture, Maman, stands more than 30 feet high. Just as spiders spin and repair their webs, Louise's own mother was a weaver of tapestries. Louise spent her childhood in France as an apprentice to her mother before she became a tapestry artist herself. She worked with fabric throughout her career, and this biographical picture book shows how Bourgeois's childhood experiences weaving with her loving, nurturing mother provided the inspiration for her most famous works. With a beautifully nuanced and poetic story, this book stunningly captures the relationship between mother and daughter and illuminates how memories are woven into us all.

Polka Dot Parade book
#19
Polka Dot Parade
Written by Deborah Blumenthal and illustrated by Masha D'yans
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"Beautifully rendered and told, the book brings to life the work of a gifted 20th-century artist whose creative vision will always be in vogue." Kirkus Reviews, Starred review This is a moving and impassioned picture book about the iconic fashion photographer Bill Cunningham that will inspire young readers to go discover their own ideas of beauty and embolden the world with their own creativity! He found "sheer poetry" in the drape of an evening dress, delight in the swoosh of a knife-pleated skirt, and sartorial splendor in Jazz Age garb. Every day, Bill Cunningham pedaled his bike through New York City searching for beauty. As he took picture after picture, Bill found beauty not in people, but in their clothes. Drawn to bold and creative choices, Bill's photos captured the attention of the New York Times. He traveled to Paris for Fashion Week, and admiration for his work grew. With his sense of creativity and daringness, his own personal style of photography came to be known as street art photography. His photos left a lasting impression on all those who came across his work and they continue to inspire creativity today. This is the story of the legend who created street fashion photography and left behind a legacy of glorious pictures. Bill Cunningham used his passion and talent to capture the beauty he saw in fashion and the ultimate freedom that it represents to each and every person. This is an inspiring picture book about finding your path and being creative.

The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell book
#20
The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell
Written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Gerard DuBois
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Joey Cornell collected everything — anything that sparked his imagination or delighted his eye. His collection grew and grew until he realized that certain pieces just looked right together. He assembled his doodads to create wonderful, magical creations out of once ordinary objects. Perfect for introducing art to kids, here’s an imaginative and engaging book based on the childhood of great American artist Joseph Cornell, told by master picture book author Candace Fleming and lauded illustrator Gérard DuBois.

The Magical Ice Palace book
#21
The Magical Ice Palace
Written by Lindsay Taylor, Suzanne Smith and illustrated by Marnie Maurri
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-99

Doodle Girl uses her magic pencil to create adventures by transforming doodles into fantastical lands, full of amazing animals! On their latest outing, Doodle Girl and her friends find a curly, curvy shape. What is it supposed to be? While trying to work it out, they find a sad, lonely mammoth high up on a mountain. What’s he doing there? Will Doodle Girl be able to help him? And what is the curly curvy shape going to be? Find out in this gorgeous picture book that inspires creativity and fun—and includes a giant, free doodling poster and stickers.

Leonardo Da Vinci book
#22
Leonardo Da Vinci
Written by Isabel Muñoz and illustrated by Jane Kent
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Why could Leonardo da Vinci paint the human form so accurately, in all its beauty? How was he educated and trained as an artist? What inspired his most famous work, including The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa? And what fun machine did he invent? Find out about this unique artist and the many areas, from architecture to flight, he drew on and influenced.

Pencil's Perfect Picture book
#23
Pencil's Perfect Picture
Written by Jodi McKay and illustrated by Juliana Motzko
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Pencil is trying to draw the perfect picture for his dad. So, he asks his friends Brush, Pastel, Marker, Crayon, and Chalk what makes their art perfect. But they each have a different answer. How will Pencil be able to create his own perfect picture?

  1. Dancing Through Fields of Color - They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler became an originator of the influential "Color Field" style of abstract expressionist painting with her "soak stain" technique, and her artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. Dancing Through Fields of Color discusses Frankenthaler's early life, how she used colors to express emotion, and how she overcame the male-dominated art world of the 1950s.

  2. Flights of Fancy - In a beautiful anthology, ten children's book greats share stories, poems, pictures, tips, and prompts meant to inspire young readers to create works of their own. Have you ever sparked the start of a story by playing a game of What if? Is there any value to all that doodling you do? What does being "a sponge" have to do with facing down a blank page? Did you know that pictures can sometimes inspire stories, rather than the other way around? From Quentin Blake's drawings of fantastical vehicles to Michael Rosen's inside look at his poetry, from Anthony Browne's shape game (no need to be an artist to play) to Lauren Child's look at her creative process, this anthology -- whose contributors were all British Children's Laureates -- aims to encourage budding writers and artists to let their imaginations soar. The final spread is a collection of prompts from all the contributors, passing the creative torch to the next generation. With contributions by: Malorie Blackman Quentin Blake Anthony Browne Lauren Child Julia Donaldson Anne Fine Michael Morpurgo Chris Riddell Michael Rosen Jacqueline Wilson

  3. JIMI: Sounds Like a Rainbow - A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix - Jimi Hendrix was many things - a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. But first, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself a question: Could someone paint pictures with sound? This a story of a talented child who learns to see, hear, and interpret the world around him in his own unique way. It is also a story of a determined kid with a vision, who worked hard to become a devoted and masterful artist. Jimi Hendrix - a groundbreaking performer whose music shook the very foundations of rock 'n' roll.

  4. Clackety Track - Queue up for a whistle-stop tour of trains of all kinds, narrated in lively verse and featuring dynamic retro artwork. Rows of grooves, cables, and bars. Graffiti rockin' out the cars. A badge of rust. A proud oil stain. There's nothin' plain about a train. Trains of all shapes and sizes are coming down the track -- bullet train, sleeper train, underground train, zoo train, and more. All aboard! Skila Brown's first-class poems, as varied as the trains themselves, reflect the excitement of train travel, while Jamey Christoph's vintage-style illustrations provide a wealth of authentic detail to pore over.

Out of This World book
#28
Out of This World
Written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Amanda Hall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A gorgeously illustrated picture book biography about the fascinating life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, from Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall, the acclaimed team behind The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau. Ever since she was a little girl, Leonora Carrington loved to draw on walls, in books, on paper—and she loved the fantastic tales her grandmother told that took her to worlds that shimmered beyond this one, where legends became real. Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to be an artist. In London, she discovered a group of artists called surrealists, who were stunning the world with their mysterious creations. This was the kind of art she had to make. This was the kind of person she had to be. From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst, to Mexico where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century. Out of This World is the powerful, stunningly told story of Leonora Carrington, a girl who made art out of her imagination and created some of the most enigmatic and startling works of the last eighty years.

Imogen book
#29
Imogen
Written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Lisa Congdon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Introduces the life and achievements of twentieth-century photographer Imogen Cunningham, describing her first darkroom experiments during childhood and the challenges she faced as a mother of three boys.

When Pencil Met Eraser book
#30
When Pencil Met Eraser
Written by Luis O. Ramos, Jr., Karen Kilpatrick and illustrated by German Blanco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this funny, clever picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends. When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity—until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together. From Karen Kilpatrick, Luis O. Ramos, and illustrator Germán Blanco, When Pencil Met Eraser brings to life something kids use every day at school and at home. Engaging art, adorable characters, and a clever ending create a memorable message about friendship and creativity.

Chalk Boy book
#31
Chalk Boy
Written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Mandy Ord
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Barnaby is a pavement artist. This morning he started drawing me. I have a head that can think, eyes that can see, ears that can hear and legs that can run. Best of all, I have a heart that can feel. Thank you, Barnaby. Award-winning writer Margaret Wild compresses epic themes into a poetic, poignant story, vividly brought to life by Mandy Ord's distinctive, dynamic art.

Along Came Coco book
#32
Along Came Coco
Written and illustrated by Eva Byrne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a time when children were meant to be seen and not heard, along came Coco, a small French orphan with an eye for style, a talent for sewing, and a big imagination. Coco grew up in an orphanage run by very strict nuns, but she wasn't very good at following rules. At a time when girls were told to brush their hair 100 times until their arms were sore, Coco promised herself that one day she would snip away her locks so that she wouldn't have to be so fussy--girls needed time for other things, and they needed some of the comforts that boys enjoyed. Why shouldn't girls have pockets? And why did they have to wear corsets all the time? An exploration of Coco's early life and a celebration of her creativity, Along Came Coco ​shows the ways in which Coco Chanel's imaginative spirit led her to grow into one of the world's most beloved fashion icons.

  1. Anywhere Artist - Anyone can make art anywhere, anytime, with anything! Follow a young artist as she moves through a number of natural environments, creating gorgeous artworks along the way from natural materials. Stunning hand-crafted illustrations with handlettered text. An ideal springboard for your own creations!

  2. Crafty Llama - Llama loves to make things. It doesn't matter what, really--something special, something lovely. Beaver loves to make things, too. But he likes things to be useful. On this lovely day, Llama is inspired. She is having fun making things, like gifts for her friends. And soon many of her friends are inspired right along with her. But Beaver needs to think about what Llama and the other animals are making. What useful thing can he do with this day? With lots of craftiness and fun, this is a delightful story about how something lovely can be useful, too, and how the best gifts are the ones that bring us together.

  3. Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts - "Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts is a great way to encourage kids' interests in all manner of artistic pursuits that they might aspire to. This volume introduces children to the many different types of creative fields in the arts including drawing and painting, music and dance, writing, design, architecture, and photography."--Publisher's description.

  4. Arty - Join Arty the frog and find out how he became the world's greatest artist! As Arty creates a series of record-setting masterpieces, he ends up in some strange and funny situations, from balancing on a stepladder at the top of Mount Everest to being strapped to the wing of a supersonic plane. Kids will laugh at Arty's antics . . . and feel inspired, too.

Isabella, Artist Extraordinaire book
#37
Isabella, Artist Extraordinaire
Written by Jennifer Fosberry and illustrated by Mike Litwin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Isabella has a day off from school, her mother suggests doing something special. Instead, Isabella walks her parents through all of the exciting things they could do as she imagines herself in famous paintings ranging from Van Gogh's The Starry Night to Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans. Through her musings, Isabella creates a wondrous museum of her own making, showing how home can be the most special place of all!

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!