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Best Children’s Books About Artists

Looking for the best children’s books about artists? Check out these fiction and non-fiction children’s books about artists. These books and lesson plans are full of activities and ideas to teach these mentor texts. These books for kids Kindergarten through upper elementary are perfect childrens books about artists! Children’s books about famous artists, art, painting, diverse artists, and more!

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Radiant Child HERE

Check out these fiction and non-fiction children's books about artists. These books and lesson plans are full of activities and ideas to teach these mentor texts. Books just for fun and others to inform for Kinderarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade. These books for kids Kindergarten through upper elementary are perfect childrens books about artists! Children's books about famous artists, art, painting, diverse artists, and more!
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Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown

This story recounts Frida’s beloved pets—two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn—and playfully considers how Frida embodied many wonderful characteristics of each animal. 

Get the lesson plan and activities for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos HERE

Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Guglielmo

Mary Blair lived her life in color: vivid, wild color. From her imaginative childhood to her career as an illustrator, designer, and animator for Walt Disney Studios, Mary wouldn’t play by the rules. At a time when studios wanted to hire men and think in black and white, Mary painted twinkling emerald skies, peach giraffes with tangerine spots, and magenta horses that could fly.

She painted her world in the It’s a Small World ride.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Pocket Full of Colors HERE

Dazzle Ships by Chris Barton

During World War I, British and American ships were painted with bold colors and crazy patterns from bow to stern. Why would anyone put such eye-catching designs on ships? Desperate to protect ships from German torpedo attacks, British lieutenant-commander Norman Wilkinson proposed what became known as dazzle. These stunning patterns and colors were meant to confuse the enemy about a ship’s speed and direction. By the end of the war, more than four thousand ships had been painted with these mesmerizing designs.

History and war meet art and design in this book also excellent for Veterans Day!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Dazzle Ships HERE

Maybe Something Beautiful by Isabel Campoy

What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!

Frida by Jonah Winter

This stunning picture book is the perfect gift for art enthusiasts of all ages. When her mother was worn out from caring for her five sisters, her father gave her lessons in brushwork and color. Later when polio kept her bedridden for nine months, drawing saved her from boredom. When a bus accident left her in unimaginable agony, her paintings expressed her pain and depression – and eventually, her joys and her loves. Over and over again, Frida Kahlo turned the challenges of her life into art.

This is also an excellent book for Hispanic Heritage Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Frida HERE

The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davis

If there was one thing James Audubon loved to do more than anything else, it was to be in the great outdoors watching his beloved feathered friends. In the fall of 1804, he was determined to find out if the birds nesting near his Pennsylvania home would really return the following spring. Through careful observation, James laid the foundation for all that we know about migration patterns today.

Capturing the early passion of this bird-obsessed young man as well as the meticulous study and scientific methods behind his research, this lively, gorgeously illustrated biography will leave young readers listening intently for the call of birds large and small near their own home.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Boy Who Drew Birds HERE

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Blue crayon needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. Black crayon wants to be used for more than just outlining.  And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun. What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Day the Crayons Quit HERE

Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare

Climb aboard the spaceship bus for a fantastic field trip adventure to the moon! Once their bright yellow ship lands, students debark and set out with their teacher to explore. They jump over trenches and see craters and mountains on the moon’s surface and even Earth in the faraway distance.

But when one student takes a break to draw some pictures and falls asleep, they wake up to discover that the rest of the class and the spaceship are gone. How the student passes the time waiting to be rescued makes for a funny and unexpected adventure that will enchant children all over the galaxy as the child encounters aliens just as interested in drawing as he is. This book is also excellent for exploring space!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Field Trip to the Moon HERE

The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Nicky is convinced that his summer with his grandmother in the Wisconsin woods is going to be the worst summer ever. She cooks food that he doesn’t like, there’s an art studio where her living room should be, and he’s expected to do chores—including fishing, the most boring chore ever.

But one afternoon, while Nicky is trying to catch their dinner, a raft drifts down the river towards him. The raft has a calming magic about it, affecting both Nicky and the wildlife of the river and woods. Through the raft and the adventures it brings him on, Nicky finds new common ground with his grandmother, a fellow river rat, who encourages him to explore his newfound talent for art.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Raft HERE

Drawn Together by Minh Le

When a young boy visits his grandfather, their lack of a common language leads to confusion, frustration, and silence. But as they sit down to draw together, something magical happens-with a shared love of art and storytelling, the two form a bond that goes beyond words. This is also an excellent book for Grandparents Day and for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Drawn Together HERE

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers

It’s a glorious summer day at the shore, and all Jamie wants is to finish her art project in the sand. A little time to herself is all she needs. But everyone around keeps asking her pesky questions she doesn’t know how to answer: what are you making? Aren’t you clever?

Jamie does her best to tune it all out and focus on her creation . . . until she finds a like-minded friend, who’s as happy to work quietly as she is.

Get the lesson plan and activities for Hum and Swish HERE

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds

The sky’s no limit as the author-illustrator of The Dot and Ish winds up his Creatrilogy with a whimsical tale about seeing the world a new way.

Marisol loves to paint. So when her teacher asks her to help make a mural for the school library, she can’t wait to begin! But how can Marisol make a sky without blue paint? After gazing out the bus window and watching from her porch as day turns into night, she closes her eyes and starts to dream. . . . From the award-winning Peter H. Reynolds comes a gentle, playful reminder that if we keep our hearts open and look beyond the expected, creative inspiration will come.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Her teacher smiled. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw – she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. “There!” she says.

That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds’s delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us. This is also an excellent book for talking about growth mindset!

You can get a lesson and activity with Google Docs and Google Slides as well as printable activities included by signing up here:

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock

Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers—like a proper artist.

But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound—the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Noisy Paint Box HERE

The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers

One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Night Gardener HERE

Funny Bones by Duncan Tonatiuh

Funny Bones tells the story of how calaveras came to be. The amusing figures are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). Lupe learned the art of printing at a young age and soon had his own shop. In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not that of the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de Muertos festival.

This book is also great for Hispanic Heritage Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Funny Bones HERE

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon by Dean Robbins

As a boy, Alan wanted to fly planes. As a young navy pilot, Alan wished he could paint the view from the cockpit. So he took an art class to learn patterns and forms. But no class could prepare him for the beauty of the lunar surface some 240,000 miles from Earth. In 1969, Alan became the fourth man and first artist on the moon. He took dozens of pictures, but none compared to what he saw through his artistic eyes.

When he returned to Earth, he began to paint what he saw. Alan’s paintings allowed humanity to experience what it truly felt like to walk on the moon. An excellent book also for discussing outer space!

Get the lesson plan and activities for The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon HERE

Paper Son by Julie Leung

Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing–which he loved to do–but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime–and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.

Also an excellent story for talking about Asian American Heritage Month!

Get the lesson plan and activities for Paper Son HERE

Children’s Books About Artists

What are some of your favorite children’s books about artists? Are there any must read childrens books about art that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

Check out these fiction and non-fiction children's books about artists. These books and lesson plans are full of activities and ideas to teach these mentor texts. Books just for fun and others to inform for Kinderarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade. These books for kids Kindergarten through upper elementary are perfect childrens books about artists! Children's books about famous artists, art, painting, diverse artists, and more!
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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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