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Introducing Art to Very Young Children

No child is too young to begin learning about visual art. It is simply a matter of using the proper approach.

Toddlers and pre-schoolers will probably not enjoy visits to art museums, but there are a variety of ways to make visual art accessible to young children.

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These picture books contain exceptionally fine art work:

The Big Big Sea
Written by Martin Waddell
Illustrated by Jennifer Eachus
ISBN: 1564020665, Published by Candlewick Press, 24 pages.

Medium

Colored pencil

Card catalog description

A young girl and her mother take a nighttime walk to the sea, creating beautiful memories of a special experience.


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Written by Susan Wojciechowski
Illustrated by P.J. Lynch
ISBN: 0763619302, Published by Candlewick Press, 40 pages.

Medium

Watercolor paintings

Book Description

A woodcutter's wounded heart is healed and his faith is restored through a joyful miracle in this holiday classic.


Hattie and the Wild Waves
Written by Barbara Cooney
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
ISBN: 0140541934, Published by Puffin, 48 pages.

Medium

Acrylic painting with colored pencil and pastel accents.

Card catalog description

A young girl from Brooklyn, New York, enjoys her summer at the beach where she can paint and listen to the wild waves.


The High Rise Glorious Skittle Skat Roarious Sky Pie Angel Food Cake
Written by Nancy Willard
Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson
ISBN: 015201019X, Published by Voyager Books, 64 pages.

Medium

Egg tempera paintings

Card catalog description

As she is preparing a special angelfood cake for her mother's birthday, a girl is surprised by three angels who have dropped in for a taste.


Island Boy
Written by Barbara Cooney
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
ISBN: 0140507566, Published by Puffin, 40 pages.

Medium

Appears to be acrylic paintings with pastel accents

Card catalog description

Matthais grows from a little boy to a grandfather on a small island off the coast of New England.


King Bidgood's In The Bathtub
Written by Audrey Wood
Illustrated by Don Wood
ISBN: 0152427309, Published by Harcourt, 32 pages.

Medium

Oil paintings

Card catalog description

Despite pleas from his court, a fun-loving king refuses to get out of his bathtub to rule his kingdom.


The Last Dance
Written by Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by Debrah Santini
ISBN: 1561451096, Published by Peachtree Publishers.

Medium

Combination of pencil sketches and brightly hued watercolors.

Book Description

An extraordinary story that speaks to children and adults alike about the value of promises and the limitless power of love.


The Magic Paintbrush
Written by Robin Muller
Illustrated by Robin Muller
ISBN: 0385253737, Published by Doubleday Canada.

Book Description

A story of magic and wonder inspired by a Chinese folk tale. Full-colour throughout.

Nib, a young orphan, has but one wish- to paint pictures so real people will think they are alive. One night Nib rescues an old man from a gang of thugs, and receives his wish as a reward for his bravery. But Nib's dream is nearly his downfall, as a greedy king tries to take advantage of the boy's gift. Nib finally triumphs, but only after he has learned a valuable lesson.


Miss Rumphius
Written by Barbara Cooney
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
ISBN: 0140505393, Published by Puffin, 32 pages.

Medium

Acrylic paintings with colored pencil accents.

Card catalog description

As a child Great-aunt Alice Rumphius resolved that when she grew up she would go to faraway places, live by the sea in her old age, and do something to make the world more beautiful--and she does all those things, the last being the most difficult of all.


The Napping House
Written by Audrey Wood
Illustrated by Don Wood
ISBN: 0152567089, Published by Harcourt, 32 pages.

Medium

Oil paintings.

Amazon.com Editorial Review

There is a house,
a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.

"Everyone," in this case is a snoring granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, a slumbering mouse... and a wakeful flea! Uh-oh. Looks like the napping house won't be napping for long. With their very own brand of humor, Audrey Wood and Don Wood create an appealing bedtime book compatible with Margaret Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon. The sleepy household congregates on Granny's bed, slowly building a very relaxed pile of bodies in shifting positions. Young readers will enjoy tracking the critters as they make their way, one by one, to the bed--and then guessing what will happen when the wakeful flea joins the heap. - Emilie Coulter


Persephone and the Pomegranate
Written by Kris Waldherr
Illustrated by Kris Waldherr
ISBN: 0803711913, Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 32 pages.

Medium

Oil paintings

Card catalog description

Demeter refuses to allow spring to appear until she has been reunited with her daughter Persephone, who has been abducted to the Underworld by Pluto.


Rapunzel
Written by Alix Berenzy
Illustrated by Alix Berenzy
ISBN: 0805057935, Published by Henry Holt & Company, 32 pages.

Medium

Colored pencil and gouache.

Book Description

Alix Berenzy's Rapunzel, based on sources that predate Grimm, portrays a strong heroine who survives many hardships before finding her fairytale ending. Rich, light-drenched paintings eloquently capture both the spirit and the landscape in which the story of Rapunzel began.


A Song for Lena
Written by Hilary Horder Hippely
Illustrated by Leslie Baker
ISBN: 0689807635, Published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 40 pages.

Medium

Watercolor and pencil.

Card catalog description

Lena's grandmother tells about the time when her mother in Hungary shared some freshly made strudel with a beggar who repaid her hospitality with a beautiful song. Includes a recipe for apple strudel.


The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks
Written by Katherine Paterson
Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
ISBN: 0140557393, Published by Puffin, 40 pages.

Medium

Pastel and watercolor paintings done in the style of 18th century Japanese woodcuts.

Amazon.com Editorial Review

A beautiful mandarin duck is captured and caged by a greedy lord who wants to show off the bird's magnificent plumage. But the wild creature pines for his mate. When Yasuko, the kitchen maid, releases the bird against her lord's command, she and the one-eyed servant, Shozo, are sentenced to death. The grateful bird intends to return their kindness, but can he outsmart the cruel lord?

Winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Illustration, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year.


Introducing Art to Children
Resources for introducing art to children.

Stop Motion Animation
Tips for getting started making animated films using dolls and clay.

Visual Arts
Resources for studying visual art media and art history.


Art is identical with a state of capacity to make, involving a true course of reasoning. - Aristotle




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