Art History for Preschoolers – 40+ Books to Study Great Artists

by Meghan

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Big M is very artistically inclined.  She has great imagination and loves to create. And, as I’ve discovered, she loves learning about real world topics, beyond just the usual preschool nursery rhymes, ABCs and dinosaurs (though we do plenty of that as well!).  We recently decided to undertake an exploration of Art History, studying the great artists, their techniques, mediums and taking a shot at reproducing their famous works in our own, preschool fashion.  Since I have ZERO official background in art, we started our study at the library, checking out books perfect for introducing the topic to early learners.

40+ Books to Study Great Artists with Preschoolers

Great works of art are inspiring to grown-ups and children alike.  To teach Big M a little more about Art History and the great artists, we began a search at both our local library and bookstore.  The good news? There are a plethora of authors out there who write about art, famous works of art and the masters.  The great news? There are even authors who write about it in a context intended for early learners.

What is Art?

This first group of books serve as great introduction to the concept of art, broadly.  Everything from color mixing to inspiration and encouragement for your preschool artist, who may still just be mastering using pencils, brushes and crayons.  Many also convey lessons of being unique, standing out in the crowd, self-confidence, and that anyone can be an artist. I especially love the latter message for Big M because she is quite the perfectionist.  She often won’t try something new because she’s afraid she won’t get it quite right.

Art History - Intro to Art Books for Preschoolers

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Peter Reynolds Creatrilogy Box Set
The Dot
Sky Color

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg

Art by Patrick McDonnell

by Herve Tullet
The Big Book of Art
Press Here
Mix It Up

The Museum by Susan Verde

Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman

Elmer by David McKee

The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

Who are the Great Artists?

There are countless books covering the lives and works of the great masters.  But I have narrowed this list to ones specifically written for preschoolers, emphasizing famous works and life highlights, while glossing over some of the masters’ more colorful life experiences!

Art History - 25+ Books to Meet the Great Artists for Preschool

The Art Book for Children

The Art Book for Children Book Two

Look! Look! Look! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace with Linda K. Friedlaender

Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter

When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden

Vincent’s Colors by Vincent VanGogh

Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel

The Cat and the Bird: A Children’s Book Inspired by Paul Klee by Geraldine Elschner

Journey on a Cloud: A Children’s Book Inspired by Marc Chagall by Veronique Massenot

The Noisy Paintbox: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock

Degas and the Dance by Susan Goldman Rubin

Anholt’s Artists Books for Children:
VanGogh and the Sunflowers
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet

Degas and the Little Dancer
Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail
Matisse the King of Color
Cezanne and the Apple Boy

Books by James Mayhew:
Katie books, exploring artists from the Italian Renaissance to Post-Impressionism

Katie’s Picture Show
Katie and the Starry Night

Katie Meets the Impressionists
Katie and the Waterlily Pond
Katie and the Spanish Princess
Katie and the Mona Lisa
Katie and the Sunflowers
Katie and the British Artists
Katie’s Sunday Afternoon

Great Parent Reference Books

There are so many great books out there, it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to even begin!  I have found the Prestel books to be a great reference for me in planning where we would begin on this adventure, as well as to enhance my own background.  There are several other books in the series, but these three have served as my starting point with Big M.

Art History - Parent Reference Books

13 Art Techniques Children Should Know

13 Paintings Children Should Know

13 Artists Children Should Know

Having done lots of reading, we are ready to start our adventure exploring all these great artists and their techniques.  We hope you will join us on this journey.  Stay tuned for our first preschool interpretations of famous works of art, as well as a great list of supplies to stock your craft closet with in preparation!  Who is your favorite artist?  Do you have a great book about the masters we missed on our list?

You can find this post, as well as others on the topic from around the web on our Art for Kids board on Pinterest.

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