You’re Never Too Young to Appreciate (and Learn from) Art

It is never too early to introduce children to art. There are a variety of children's books that incorporate basic
education components, such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, and shapes, into famous paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and textiles. With additional prompts, however, children can begin to interact with and interpret the pieces of art at which they are looking. Just starting out with some basic questions, one can generate some wonderful (and sometimes surprisingly insightful) responses from children:

•What do you first notice/see?
•What colors stand out to you?
•How would you describe the colors the artist used? Dark? Bright? Soft? Sharp?
•Do shapes/colors overlap?
•What would you call or what title would you give this piece of work?
•What emotions can you “see?” Happy? Sad? Excited? Scared?
•What do you like/dislike about the art work?

With a library card, it is especially easy to bring famous works of art home with you. Children can pick out colors in a Picasso, count sun beams in a Lichtenstein, and find squares in a Kandinsky. Using these same books, it is easy to go beyond the basics and begin a conversation with children about art, the artists, and the artists’ techniques.

Art 123 by Steffano Zuffi. Children will learn to count from 1 to 12 while looking at fine art masterpieces in this lively new book. Cats by Gainsborough, boats by Van Gogh, a circle of dancers by Matisse, a king and queen sculpted by Henry Moore -- they are all here to encourage counting and to introduce the fascinating world of art. A short rhyme perfect for reading aloud accompanies each illustration, helping children find the objects to count. Art 123 is a great book for all art lovers

Art Museum Opposites by Katy Friedland and Marla K. Shoemaker. As children start to learn the differences between night and day, big and small, and old and new, Art Museum Opposites can teach them how to understand these distinctions visually by using paintings, sculptures, and other objects from the famed collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 15 full-color spreads, young readers can have fun comparing a bright summer day as painted by Marc Chagall with a moonlit night as depicted by Joan Miró, or contrasting "inside" and "outside" by spotting the differences between scenes of monkeys as represented by Antoine Vollon and Henri Rousseau. Written by museum educators Katy Friedland and Marla K. Shoemaker, the authors of the award-winning A is for Art Museum, the images in Art Museum Opposites prompt children to compare the images on each spread and make up stories about what they see. The works of art featured in this book will stimulate children's imaginations, inspire interactions between adults and kids, and encourage a trip to the museum to see the works first-hand.

I Spy Colors in Art by Lucy Micklethwait. I spy with my little eye . . . a yellow circle, an orange orange, two blue eyes staring right back at me! The whole family will delight in exploring fine art through these fourteen glorious paintings, ranging from ancient to contemporary, their artists hailing from all around the globe. Each time you look at one of the colorful canvases in this book -- or in a museum -- you're sure to discover another delightful and surprising detail. What a wonderful way to foster a love of art in the youngest of children and to instill an appreciation for close observation and attention to detail. What do you spy?

I Spy Shapes in Art by Lucy Micklethwait. Each of the fourteen magnificent paintings in this book contains a different shape for you to find. Some are easy to spot, and others are more challenging. But take a closer look -- after you think you have found them all, there are even more shapes to look at and discover. I Spy Shapes in Art features a remarkable variety of artists from around the world, including Georgia O'Keeffe, Henri Matisse, and M.C. Escher. This picture book pairs a classic game with timeless art, making it the perfect way to introduce fine art to children.

Museum ABC by Robbie Rogge and Judith Cressy. Museum ABC is a unique and colorful picture book that introduces children to more than a hundred works of art, using the alphabet. Adults and children alike will love the visual and cultural richness of this alphabetical tour through the Metropolitan Museum's collection.

- Anna V.


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