Red Ted Art set me thinking about books that inspire children about art. We’ve got quite a few of these as I much of my degree involved History of Art and I still try to keep up with art and go to exhibitions when I can. Henry’s gone to art galleries from an early age and we are regulars at Birmingham City Art Gallery, the Barber Institute and the Ikon, all of which are family friendly.
Over the years I’ve acquired a collection of books to inspire Henry to love art as much as I do. I thought I’d share a few of these with you.
Willy’s Pictures by Anthony Browne is a really fun way to introduce children to art. Willy is a character, a chimp, that appears in many of Browne’s story books. Each page features Willy in a famous or not so famous work of art. The pull out section at the back of the book tells children (and adults) about the real works of art and then they can compare the originals to Willy’s pictures.There are all sorts of amusing details, like background figures which are dressed up chimps. Lots of fun for children and adults with be drawn to it too.
I don’t believe in talking down to children and often show Henry books that are designed for an adult audience. Obviously, they need to be very visual and The Art Book fits the bill. Each page features a different artist and the reproductions are of excellent quality. A little information is given about each one, but you could simply talk about the pictures together. This way you can adapt the book to the child’s age and understanding.
I read books illustrated by Quentin Blake in my childhood and he’s still producing wonderfully visual books today. Tell Me a Picture features 26 pictures of works of art, one for each letter of the alphabet, with a full page reproduction of each image. On the neighbouring page, Quentin’s own characters discuss and ask questions about the art works providing a starting point for you at home. Not all the pictures are by famous artists and some are by famous children’s illustrators like John Burningham.