What’s a Matisse?
Why is Andy Warhol so famous?
Picasso? How the heck do you explain him to a five year old?
Those were some of the questions I asked myself ten years ago when I signed up at my daughter’s elementary school’s Art Volunteer In the Classroom program. Yes, I earned a BFA. Yes, I passed the required year of Art History classes, BUT the lectures were in a huge, dark auditorium with over a thousand students at 9:00 a.m. while the professor in a monotone voice taught from the book, The History of Art. My biggest challenge in the class was staying awake. I managed to ace the exams but, believe it or not, the information jumped right out of my head after the test. (I wonder why?) So, when I signed up to be an AVIC parent, I had to relearn everything about art history AND make it fun and relatable for elementary students, and for myself.
I still remember in fourth grade when the Picture Lady came to our classroom. Many people ask me, “Do they still have Picture Lady? I remember that.” Of course, and we are still going strong. For the last eight years, I have run the Art Volunteer Program at our school. Always searching for great books that explain art to kids (and the parents), one of my favorite places in the entire world is the Children’s Book section at The Art Institute of Chicago’s Museum Store. This past year I also visited the LA County Museum of Art and the Getty Museum’s Museum Stores, and (of course) the museums, too.
The following are just a few of the most recent books I love that give a fun and kid-friendly GENERAL introduction to Art Appreciation, with an emphasis on Paintings (... and are great for parents, too!)
Looking at Paintings
An Introduction to Fine Art for Young People
Bunker Hill Publishing 2002
What a fun book for kids! Mickey Mouse... need I say more?
I found this book at The Writer's Stop (a bookstore tucked away at Disney World MGM). While my family goes on the rides, I wander the parks. Finding this book was the highlight of my trip!
Tell Me A Picture
Frances Lincoln 2006
Fun read for Kindergarten through fifth grade classes.
Asks great questions which lead to discussions about the stories behind paintings.
Quentin's drawings are fun and cool.
Millbrook Press 2007
Combines two of my favorite things: Reading and Paintings!
The paintings are by some of my favorite artists and the captions that match each painting will spark great conversations.
(This is exactly what Bob was refering to in his most recent post on I.N.K. ~~~ "The trick is to write a headline that not only imparts information, but does so in an interesting way.")
Art Up Close
Chronicle Books 2006
All age ranges love this book.
This was one of the books that I would read to my little guy before bed.
The layout of the book is a treat from the large paintings and fun graphics to the great historical tie-ins to the key flap-format at the end of the book.
Well, there you have it ~ my inaugural post. I am so proud and honored to be part of an amazing group of writers. I hope you will look forward to many more artsy-fartsy (that one was for Kathleen) posts and an occasional rant about increasing art education in the schools.