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Best art books for children

Children in an art gallery
Help your child discover the world's great works of art with our pick of the best introductions to painting, sculpture, art installations and more. Will they step into a painting in an art story book, create their own 3D art masterpiece or fall in love with an artistic style or artist?

Children's Book of Art

(£14.99, DK)

The world's most amazing works of art and art techniques are introduced to children in this image-packed, wonderfully detailed guide to colour, style and artists. Bursting with images of paintings and sculpture and packed with facts, this is a dip-in, dip-out artistic treasure-trove.

Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew

(£6.99, Orchard Books)

The Katie books are modern classics. For 25 years "art adventures" have taken Katie into the canvases of great artists, from Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne to Monet, Da Vinci and Degas, with exciting and visually stunning results! The perfect way to introduce KS1 children to the masters of Western art.

Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists

(£12.95, Laurence King Publishing)

An interactive art activity book which draws inspiration from the work of eighteen major artists. The focus is on making art to experiment and explore different artistic styles, techniques and tools, from a pencil or scissors to foam and photocollage. The 240 pages of ideas are perfect for dipping in and out of – for months!

Splat! The Most Exciting Artists of All Time by Mary Richards

(£12.95, Thames & Hudson)

Marvel at Michelangelo's vast paintings, catch a glimpse of everyday Japanese life in the work of Hokusai and enter Dalí's dream worlds with this encyclopaedic survey of the evolution of art history. Artworks are beautifully reproduced and accompanied by loads of information about the artists' life and times.

3D Art Adventures by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw

(£14.99, Modern Books)

Art isn't just paintings on a wall! Explore the world of 3D masterpieces of sculpture, installation, textiles and ceramics and try your hand at related art activities, from producing a superhero statue to making a masking-tape portrait. Playful and inspiring.

Tell Me a Picture by Quentin Blake

(£12.99, Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Quentin Blake writes about 26 of his favourite works of art from different styles and periods in a brilliant book of art criticism which introduces kids to the stories behind each artwork.

The Power of the Pencil by Guy Field

(£12.99, Pavilion Books)

Learn to draw everything from animals to pizzas and superheroes with this hands-on guide to the enormous power of the humble pencil. Doodle, sketch and get to know the work of the world's greatest illustrators, with hundreds of practical projects and inspiring ideas to unleash your imagination.

Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World by Laurence Anholt

(£12.99, Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

The Anholt's Artists series of books about great painters highlights the stories of real meetings between world-famous artists and the children who knew them and includes reproductions of some of the world's most famous paintings. Artists in the series include Monet, Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, but our favourite is the newest title about Frida Kahlo and her amazing life story.

The Art Book for Children

(£12.95, Phaidon Press)

A stylish, exciting introduction to art that will help your child (and you!) consider why and how we create art and provoke discussion about artists' aims and intentions in their work.

Nature art

(£12.99, Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

A one-stop activity guide dedicated to finding, observing, collecting, creating and exhibiting art inspired by and made from the wonders of nature. Foldable frames, an expedition envelope and a fold-out poster are included to help display flowers, blossoms, pebbles and plants.

Vincent's Starry Night and Other Stories

(£19.99, Laurence King Publishing)

From Michelangelo to Ai Weiwei, art historian Michael Bird tells the story of art in 68 short stories aimed at children but sure to be appreciated by anyone who wants to learn about our cultural heritage. Beautifully illustrated, this narrative storybook brings 40,000 years of global art history to life for the next generation. Recommended.

Why is art full of naked people?

(£12.95, Thames & Hudson)

Children's most common questions about the world of art (including "Is it finished?", "What is it exactly?", "Why is art so expensive?" and, about modern art, "My little sister could do that, why is it art?") are answered in an engaging, humorous way, with lots of pictures of famous works. A really different – and really valuable – introduction to the visual arts.

Old Masters Rock

(£14.99, Pimpernel Press)

Want to find out more about classic art alongside your child? Old Masters Rock is a book to look at together, and explains the background and story behind masterpieces of the Renaissance, Baroque, Realist and Impressionist periods, as well as offering kids quirky facts about the artists and their work. The artwork reproductions are gorgeous, too.


Get Colouring with Katie

(£4.99, Orchard Books)

Let art adventurer Katie be your guide around London's world-famous National Gallery art collection as you get to know some masterpieces by coluring them yourself. Why not plan a visit to the gallery and compare your coloured-in versions with the real thing?

Picture This!

(£5, Hodder Children's Books)

A companion reference and activity book for kids visiting the National Gallery in London, this is the perfect gift-shop purchase and a great investment for a family visit to the Gallery. Children are introduced to famous works by painters such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Velázquez, Degas and others through beautiful reproductions as well as facts, puzzles, activities and did-you-knows inspired by the artworks. Another brilliant pre-Gallery read is the fiction book Dogs' Night by Meredith Hooper.

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum

(£12.99, Puffin)

Based on a newly-discovered manuscript and sketches from Dr. Seuss, illustrator Andrew Joyner brings a Seussian journey through the history of art to life with a guide to how different artists can look at a horse and have totally different visions and artisitc interpretations of what they see. Reproductions of the iconic artwork of more than thirty artists, including Picasso, Manet, Magritte and Jackson Pollock, showcase an exhibition like no other, a real canter through the history of visual art.

(If cats are your preferred animal, A Gallery of Cats by Ruth Brown is another beautiful exploration of artistic styles through pictures of cats reminiscent of famous masterpieces.)

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