Here are some children’s books by other authors that I like and recommend. The list does not include everything I read because a) I only includes books I recommend and b) I mainly try to include books where the topic is related to art. Sometimes I just pick a book because the art in it is beautiful or because the language was exquisite. Some of the links are “affiliate links” to Amazon.com, which means that Amazon pays me a few pennies if you end up buying the book through the link here. Your price is the same whether you use the affiliate link or find the book another way. You’re free to click, look on Amazon and not buy.
This list is organized by picture books, chapter books, books for older readers, and books about children’s book artists. Scroll down to find what you want.
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos is–surprise–about color. Swatch lives where colors run wild. She attempts to tame them and put them in jars until the day she meets Yellowest Yellow, who does NOT want to be tamed (and is a little fierce). Author/illustrator Julia Denos has illustrated several children’s books and says the hardest question for her to answer is “What is your favorite color?” This delightful book is her answer. Preschool – Grade 2.
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. Beautifully illustrated book addresses the question, “What is Poetry?” The book’s answer ties everything together in a neat way. I love that it is a boy finding poetry and that, in the next book below, a woman is navigating the high seas.
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. This is an exciting read and I couldn’t put it down. Eleanor became a great navigator and she led her husband’s boat from New York, around Cape Horn and on to San Francisco in record-breaking time. Storms, broken masts, a woman winning by skill and guts and a quicker grasp of science than competing navigators! The language is beautiful. Here is one example: “Ellen’s heart raced like a riptide….” The illustrations are perfect. Did I say I like this book? I do. A lot!
Vincent Paints His House by Tedd Arnold. Cute book about color. It teaches kids in a fun way that every basic color has at least four versions (e.g., red can be rose, crimson, scarlet, or vermilion).
Chalk by Bill Thomson. You don’t “read” this exciting book–the pictures give the whole story. It is almost like a movie and gets just scary enough. The illustrations make me wish I could draw!
The Song of Delphine by Kenneth Kraegel. Cinderella meets Where The Wild Things Are. Lovely book. Magical trips on giraffes.
Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre (writer) and Zac Retz. This made me laugh! It’s not really about art; it’s about what can happen in art class. Great twist at the end.
Drum Dream Girl. How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Picture book about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga who, in 1932, overturned the Cuban tradition that only boys could play drums. She became a world famous musician.
Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter (Author), Kevin Hawkes (Illustrator). Great picture book about how Picasso stood up to harsh criticism to become one of the greatest painters of the Twentieth Century. It makes his story exciting. I wish I had written it.
Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock (Author) and Mary GrandPre (Illustrator). A picture book story about the condition of synesthesia and how accepting the condition helped Kandinsky become the pioneer of abstract art.
When Pigasso Met Mootisse is Nina Laden’s classic book about, well, the meeting and artistic rivalry between Picasso and Matisse. Full of puns and an absolute delight. As fresh now as when it came out in 1998.
Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box by David McPhail tells how Beatrix got a point box when she was young and how that inspired her.
In a Village by the Sea, written by Muon Van and illustrated by April Chu features (in one part) a cricket who paints up a storm that endangers the fisherman-father. It gives young readers a sense of the risky lives of fishermen and their families. But the story has a good ending and the illustrations are very beautiful. I really like that the book is not “saccharine:” we do not see the father come home safely, it is implied by the art. Great book to spark conversation with your child!
Math at the Art Museum is written by Group Majoongmul and illustrated by Yun-ju Kim. The book is primarily pedagogical (rather than a gripping story like the other books on this page). I include it because there are too few books that combine art and math and because I really liked the painting the book uses to illustrate symmetry: Praying Mother and Son Rock Formation by Kim Jae-hong.
The Hare & the Hedgehog is the classic story by the Brothers Grimm. This version was recently published with gorgeous illustrations by Jonas Laustroer. Not directly about art, but a beautiful book.
Clowns On Vacation by Nina Laden. Hey, its Nina Laden. Do I need to say more?
Langston’s Train Ride by Robert Burleigh (Author) and Leonard Jenkins (Illustrator). A picture book that captures how creativity strikes. It is about the moment that inspired one of Hughes’ most famous early poems.
Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez (Author) and Julie Paschkis (Illustrator). Very pretty picture book about Georgia O’Keefe.
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau written by Michelle Merkel, illustrated by Amanda Hall. A picture book that tells us its never too late to teach yourself how to paint.
My Name Is Georgia by Jeanette Winter. Very nice book about Georgia O’Keefe.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by e.l.konigsburg is for older children (8 to 12) and is as incredibly delightful today as it was when it won the Newbery Medal in 1968. Claudia, who decides to run away, wants to go someplace beautiful and comfortable, not someplace untidy like a picnic with bugs. And that’s why she goes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m quoting the book jacket here but it is because it says exactly what I want to say about this gem of a story: “It is an adventure, a mystery, a celebration of art and beauty, and most of all, a journey of self-discovery.” This is one that really makes art more exciting!
Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells with illustrations by Marcos Calo is a middle grade mystery about–you guessed it–art thieves trying to steal a few Picasso paintings on New York City’s “museum mile.” Fun book.
A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole (author/illustrator). This graphic novel (for grades 3 – 5) uses a fictional mouse to introduce readers to naturalist and painter John James Audubon and his assistant, Joseph Mason. While the book does not include any of Audubon’s paintings, Cole’s illustrations are beautiful. The opening is exciting and the ending is a heartfelt reflection on what “home” really is. It was an Amazon Best Books of the Month selection when it was published in 2010.
Books for Older Readers
A Weekend with Van Gogh by Rosabianca Skira-Venturi, translated by Ann Keay Beneduce. Book for older children and a beautiful “coffee table” book. It is told as if van Gogh is talking to the son of his brother Theo. Very comprehensive, good selection of reproductions of his art.
Books About Children’s Book Artists
The Scraps Book: Notes From A Colorful Life by and about Lois Ehlert, one of the most accomplished authors and designers of picture books.
Alan Say is a noted artist for children’s books and has won the Caldecott Medal and praise from many critics. Drawing From Memory is his autobiography. The text is for teens, rather than younger readers.
Eric Carle is one of the giants in the field of picture book illustration. Carle’s book, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, is about an artist from whom he drew inspiration: German artist, Franz Marc (who did indeed paint a blue horse).