Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inspiring Nonfiction Art Summer Reads for Teens

My mom grew up in Germany. When I was little, summer vacation going to Grandma’s was not “over the river and through the woods”. Going to Oma’s house was a daylong international airplane trip, hopefully with no airsickness. Some days at Oma’s were filled with beautiful car trips to Heidelberg or a train ride to a castle or two, complete with foot fights with my little brother and arguing over who gets the window seat. But, most of the time was spent just hanging at Oma’s house while mom talked with her mom and other relatives and friends who stopped by. I filled my days mostly reading.

The summer of my sixteenth birthday, I brought Jane Eyre and devoured that in a day or two. Desperate to find another book to read, I wandered into my uncle’s bedroom and found the only book in English, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone. While learning about Michelangelo’s life was interesting, what pulled me in was his passion and desire to create his art. The second I finished reading the book I hunted down a sketch pad and pencils. The remainder of my vacation was spent sketching. My brother and I hiked to the castle behind Oma’s house and I sketched from there. I sketched in Oma’s garden. At the end of that vacation, I gave Oma my sketch of Strahlenburg castle and I'll never forget her exclaims of “schon, schon, schon”, meaning “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful” in German.  Oma framed that sketch and placed it in her entryway, which remained there until the day she died. That next school year is when I began art classes in high school and my love of all things art took off.

So, with summer vacation now upon us, I had to list a few wonderful nonfiction books that might ignite a passion for art in a child or student you may know. Who knows where that can lead?

Andy Warhol, Prince of Pop
by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Laurel Leaf December 2007

Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffe
by Laurie Lisle
Washington Square Press October 1997

Delicious : The Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud
by Susan Goldman Rubin
Chronicle Books 2007

I have listed only nonfiction YA books, though tempted to list some incredible works that are considered fiction. All Irving Stone’s books are works of fiction. For some wonderful fiction reads, check out my Goodreads page. If you have a NF YA art book to recommend, let me know and I will add it to the list.

Have to share, this year I fell in love with my new favorite book – The Swan Thieves: A Novel by Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova was just recommended to my daughter by a friend so, come to think of it, The Swan Thieves would be a good YA fiction read, also.
So, if whether you are going “over the river and through the woods” or on a long plane trip or both, I hope you all have a fabulous summer vacation. And, don’t forget to take along a nonfiction book to read.

Here's to a wonderful summer vacation!

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