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Beyond creating art, there are so many ways to help kids develop an appreciation for art discovery, artists, and the gift of creative thinking. As a kid (and throughout my adulthood) reading about art was such a fun way to explore creative concepts. During a recent trip to the library I took a walk through the children’s section to look for some art-themed picture books and my mind was totally blown by all the new talent and wonderful reading options.
For the last month, I’ve been researching and reading to compile an ongoing collection of some of my very favorite art-themed picture and board books for all ages. I’ve organized my top picks into a few general categories so whether you’re hunting for a specific theme, lesson reference, or gift, they’ll be easy to sort through.
You can easily jump to the following art-themed picture book sections with one click:
OR use our quick-shop collection link: Want to quickly peruse our favorite picks to shop or save for later? I try to shop local and buy from independent book sellers whenever I can, but sometimes I need a specific title I’m unable to find locally. I put together a full clickable collection of art-themed picture books (board books and teaching titles too!) here on an Amazon shopping list page. You can use it to shop or just as a quick reference (if you do make a purchase through Amazon, we get a small affiliate commission that helps us re-stock supplies from time to time). *
So many of the books in this collection are favorites of mine to give as a baby shower or birthday present. Do you write inscriptions in books you’re gifting? My family always did, so picking out art-themed picture or board books and handwriting a personal message has always felt like such a simple way to give a meaningful gift.
Some of these picture books are newly published rarities, others are contemporary classics, but all will be a great introduction to modern creative ideas and inspire young artists to create!
Pair these picture books with our free printable kids art challenge for easy art-themed afternoons and lesson planning!
Picture Books with General Art Themes
Another by Christian Robinson – This vibrant wordless picture book uses simple lessons in perspective to introduce kids to one of the most fundamental building blocks of art and creative thinking – imagination. Robinson’s unique style and rich palette make this an instant classic.
My Museum by Joanne Liu – Art is everywhere! Follow a young boy’s discoveries at the museum as he finds art in unconventional and unexpected places. The stylish illustrations feel like a trip to the Met!
The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi – Admittedly, art isn’t the main subject of this gorgeous book, but Bozzi’s painterly illustrations are so luscious I couldn’t bear to leave it out. Each page provides a wonderful visual introduction to handmade art, illustration and mixed media processes while telling a lovely story of adventure.
Let’s Paint by Gabriel Alborozo – This expressive celebration of art will leave you and your kiddo with a big smile on your face, ready to tackle a new art piece or learn more about some of the artists hinted at throughout the book.
Dog Loves Drawing by Louise Yates – This is my favorite book to gift with a sketchbook and pencil set! This sweet story is the best way to inspire a day of doodling fun.
Linus the Little Yellow Pencil by Scott Magoon – a darling book about a pencil that has lost confidence in his ability to draw (because even young artists can experience the frustration of an artistic block).
Art’s Supplies by Chris Tougas – Wild and wonderful illustrations, hilariously dotted with art puns – what’s not to love?? A great choice to pair with a mixed media art project!
Perfect by Max Amato – A brilliantly written picture book about the joy of art collaboration. The style and humor are so universally appealing this will be an instant favorite for anyone.
Draw by Raúl Colón – This gorgeous wordless picture book perfectly illustrates the idea that art can open your world to travel, adventure and excitement!
The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco – A story for anyone who’s had a memorable, life-changing teacher. This poignant autobiographical tale serves as a reminder to encourage a child’s talents, taking the time to watch and work through learning challenges. The perfect book for art teachers and students to read together.
Chalk by Bill Thomson – Another clever wordless story that begins with a found box of chalk and ends with a lesson in the power of imagination. The illustrations are SO stunning – even if wordless picture books aren’t your favorite – I guarantee you’ll find something to love in this one.
Art & Max by David Wiesner – What is art, anyway? If the details in these dynamic illustrations don’t pull your kiddo in, the fun story of a beginning artist coming into his own and accepting his own unique style definitely will!
Be a Maker by Katey Howes – This sweet book celebrates the millions of things to make – through rhyming verse and colorful, kid-pleasing illustrations.
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis – How many things can a cardboard box become? Let your imagination run away with you as you explore a “not a box” together!
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont – Set to the tune “Ain’t Gonna Rain No More” this sing-a-long story explores the joy of painting….everything! 😉
I am an Artist by Marta Altes – I love this quirky book for younger kiddos! Preschoolers especially seem to enjoy laughing along with this crazy little creator.
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds – An extra special story of finding one’s artistic style, and accepting imperfection to grow a unique creative voice. This one will resonate strongly with young sketchers and doodlers who like to imitate their favorites!
Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community by Susan Verde – This book checked all of my “favorite kind of kids book” boxes. An abandoned wall adopted by a young artist turns into a source of peace, mindfulness, and community. Timeless messages about the power of shared public art space in this one!
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg – An absolute classic, that you most likely have either heard of or seen around at least once. And rightly so, as the important parable it teaches is that it’s okay to make a mistake.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy – Tells the story of an actual urban art trail in San Diego, California (one of my former homes!). The warm colors and fun style are positively eaten up by little eyes!
Art by Patrick McDonnell -Fun rhymes and playful swirls tell the story of Art and his Jackson Pollock-inspired dreams. A perennial favorite for readers from Pre-K to early Elementary!
The Line by Paula Bossio – Oh the possibility of a line! This simple story is a wonderfully imagination-expanding journey!
Ellie by Mike Wu – A beautifully sweet story featuring a lovable little “Ellie” who saves the day with a little art and a lot of color. Perfect for younger readers.
The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle -You don’t have to look far to find SCORES of creative Eric Carle-inspired art project ideas for kids. This collection of animal art by Carle himself provides endless inspiration for young artists – along with the reminder to stay true to your own creative self.
The Museum by Susan Verde – Do you remember your first trip to the museum? This is a great book to read before a trip to an art show, gallery, fair or (obvi) museum.
Emma by Wendy Kesselman -A wonderful reminder that no one is ever too old to realize their artistic dreams. This touching story was a favorite of mine growing up!
The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg – An amazing adventure begins with the gift of a pencil! The tale of this imaginative (and suspenseful) journey suggests art is a key to other worlds…
The Art Lesson by Tomie DePaola – Oh how I adored Tomie DePaolo’s stories and illustrations as a kid – still do in fact! This sweet autobiography tells the tale of Tomie himself – what an inspiration!
Picture Books Exploring Famous Artists
Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg
The Cat and the Bird: A Children’s Book Inspired by Paul Klee by Geraldine Elschner
The Scraps Book: Notes From a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert
My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, A Young Artist in Harlem by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant
The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson
Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler by Elizabeth Brown
Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk
Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson
The Great Wave: A Children’s Book Inspired by Hokusai by Veronique Massenot
Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford
Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J. H. Shapiro
Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead
Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! by Sarah Suzuki
The Sleeping Gypsy by Mordicai Gerstein
Georgia’s Bones by Jen Bryant
Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford
Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky
A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D’Aquino
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall’s Life and Art by Barb Rosenstock
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown
Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt by Patricia McKissack
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Sonia Delaunay: A Life of Color by Cara Manes
Me and Uncle Romie: A Story Inspired by the Life and Art of Romare Beardon by Claire Hartfield
The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow
Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder by Sandra Lee Stone
A Bird or Two: A Story about Henri Matisse by Bijou Le Tord
The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan
Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter
Matisse’s Garden by Samantha Friedman
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring
If Picasso Painted a Snowman by Amy Newbold
Miró’s Magic Animals by Antony Penrose
Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors by Jane O’Connor
The Little Paintbrush by Bjørn F. Rørvik
A-Z Great Modern Artists by Andy Tuoh
We’re All Works of Art by Mark Sperring
Picture Books Exploring Color, Pattern, and Shape
Zoom: An Epic Journey Through Circles by Viction-Viction
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos
Pomelo Explores Color by Ramona Badescu
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Wild About Shapes by Jeremie Fischer
The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo
Square by Mac Barnett
Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
What Can I Be by Ann Rand
Picasso Loves Shapes by Judiee Lee
Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Follow the Line by Laura Ljungkvist
Blue vs. Yellow by Tom Sullivan
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Picture Books Exploring Emotion Through Art
Red by Michael Hall
My Color is Rainbow by Agnes Hsu
Be Still, Life by Ohara Hale
I Feel Teal by Lauren Rille
Drawn Together by Minh Lê
Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly
The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings by Anna Llenas
Interactive Art Workbooks For Kids
Art Play by Marion Deuchars
Herve Tullet: The Big Book of Art by Herve Tullet
Mix it Up by Herve Tullet
Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists by Marion Deuchars
Photo Finish by Pascale Estellon
The Game of Sculpture by Herve Tullet
Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith
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