Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gil, Matisse or Picasso…here’s a curated list of books and games to serve as your child’s first introduction to the art world.
By Ritika Jain
Kids are great receptors. They can absorb multiple languages, learn sports, music and art––all at the same time. Unfortunately, there is only so much they are exposed to through the school curriculum. So it isn’t a bad idea to go beyond the ‘prescribed’ books and explore an area that your little ones may fancy a bit more over others. We’ve curated a list of books and games that could pique a young Picasso’s curiosity and serve as their first introduction to the art world.
The Usborne Book of Famous Artists by Rosie Dickens
A comprehensive guide to the lives and works of some of the world’s most famous artists, including Van Gogh, Picasso and Dali. The book includes reproductions of the artists’ works, their belongings, and places that were important to them. Ages 9+
Also see: The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings
Amrita Sher-Gil: Rebel with a Paintbrush by Anita Vachharajani
Amrita — the artist, dreamer and rebel — grew up in two very different worlds, a village near Budapest and the colonial Simla. The book takes one on a journey through World Wars and political turmoil as her family travels in pursuit of a home and an education for Amrita. Ages 8+
Frida Kahlo (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
When an accident left Frida unable to walk, she began to paint self-portraits which showed her pain and grief, but also her passion for life and instinct for survival. This moving book traces the artist’s life history. Ages 5+
Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari
One day, Monsieur Degas mistakenly leaves his bag of paints in a dance studio and takes a young ballerina’s bag instead. While searching the streets of Paris for him, she encounters many other painters like Monet, Renoir and Cassatt. Featuring original paintings by the Impressionists, this book will delight both lovers of art and ballet. Ages 4+
Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! by Sarah Suzuki
Japanese minimalist pop artist Kusama had a vision in which the world was covered in polka dots. She began to cover her paintings, drawings, sculptures, and even her body with dots. She travelled all around the world, taking her dots along, till people everywhere started recognising her art. A beautifully illustrated book for all ages.
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring
This inspirational book explores the life and art of Keith Haring from his childhood through his rise to fame. It sheds light on his humanitarian side, his concern for children, and his disregard for the establishment. Ages 5+
Picasso and the Girl With the Ponytail
The story of a young girl who gains self-confidence during the summer she models for Pablo Picasso in the French village of Vallauris. The book will connect with adults and children alike. Ages 6+
Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake
In 2001, Quentin Blake chose 26 of his favourite paintings for an exhibition at the National Gallery. They all had one thing in common––a story to tell. The book urges children to use their imaginations and look for the stories in the pictures. Kids learn of the adventures that await in looking at art. Ages 6+
Painting Everything in the World by Harsingh Hamir and Gita Wolf
Rathwa artist Harsingh Hamir conceives and renders the transformative power of art into a deceptively simple children’s tale. He talks about the creation of Pithora paintings as a form of worship, to keep away ill-luck and invite good fortune. According to him, to paint is to mirror—and honour—all that has been created in the universe. Published by Tara Books. Ages 8+
The Mayans Gave Us Their Art and Architecture by Baby Professor
Art reflects the sentiments of people, and showcases culture and unique ways of thinking. On the other hand, architecture traces geography and traditions. Explore the visual culture of the Mayans in this factual book full of pictures and illustrations. Ages 8+
Henri’s Scissors by Jeanette Winter
Based on the life of Henri Matisse, this inspirational picture book biography includes dynamic quotes from Matisse himself, and a look at the great artist’s creative process. Ages 5+
13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel
From Leonardo da Vinci’s mysterious Mona Lisa to Vermeer’s vibrant depictions of light, young minds will find the descriptions in this book fascinating. Games and quizzes help kids learn about the significant contributions of each artist in a fun way in this chronological compilation. Additional information about museums and online resources are a bonus. Ages 8+
Go Fish for Modern Artists by Birdcage Press
A card game where the object of each game is to collect all the works of art by a particular artist. As they play, kids learn to recognise the paintings and styles of some of the greatest artists of all time. Ages 7+
Spot the Differences by Diane Teitel Rubins
A game where two identical-looking reproductions of a masterpiece appear side by side. But a closer look reveals subtle differences. Great for sharpening observational skills, this book also encourages art appreciation and throws up fun facts about paintings and artists. Featured works include paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, and Rousseau. Ages 8+
Street Art Memory Game by Janne Ettwig
This memory card game will have you matching two works by the same street artist. A fun way to learn about the iconic and visually engaging works of modern artists such as Banksy, Os Gemeos, Aakash Nihalani, JR, Kobra, Shepard Fairey, Boxi and Jilly Ballistic. For all age groups.
Paint By Sticker: Masterpieces by Workman Publishing
A book with perforated pages that need to be filled by a particular sticker with a corresponding number. An utterly absorbing activity with the satisfaction of watching a painting come to life in a pixelated avatar. For all age groups.
Vincent Van Gogh – Starry Night Puzzle by EuroGraphics
Starry Night is regarded as one of Van Gogh’s finest works. Can you put together the puzzle pieces to complete the picture? Ages 5+
Art Smart by Dover Publications
Can you recall the Mona Lisa after taking one good look? What about the colour of her eyes or the number of rings on her fingers? This gallery of 28 great European and American paintings will test your powers of observation. You’ll also discover fascinating facts about each work’s origins, current location, and cultural background. Ages 6+
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