The power of art is undeniable. Through art, children and teens can express emotions big and small. They can soar through creation and find connection through expression. Explore the power of art through literature.
“Anna at the Art Museum” by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert, illustrated by Lil Crump
Going to the art museum with her mom is anything but exciting. Everything is old, dusty, boring and full of rules. When Anna gets a behind-the-scenes look at one special painting, she makes a big discovery that helps her find the joy in art. This book is perfect to read with children before a first visit to an art museum.
“Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community” by Susan Verde, illustrated by John Parra
In the middle of a neighborhood full of life and love is a big, ugly wall. One day, a young boy decides to bring the wall to life, but he’ll need help to get the job done. This picture book celebrates community and the power of art in bringing people together.
“Milo Imagines the World” by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
On a long subway ride with his sister, Milo observes the people around him and draws pictures of what he imagines their lives are like. When Milo makes assumptions about a boy his age, he realizes that everyone has a story. You can’t really know someone by looking at them. Any book by this award-winning author-illustrator duo is sure to inspire.
“My Favorite Color” written and illustrated by Aaron Becker
How can you choose only one favorite color when the world around us is home to so many? Young children will love exploring this visually stunning approach to color. With cutout squares, translucent inserts and layering, this board book is a work of art itself.
“Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment” by Parker and Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson
When 6-year-old Parker Curry visits the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, she is captivated by a portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama. In Amy Sherald’s painting of the first lady, Parker sees hope and the promise of a better tomorrow. She sees a “queen.” Inspired by one candid photograph that swept the internet, this book is the perfect example of how art can evoke feeling.
“Anya’s Secret Society” written and illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
Using her left hand, Anya makes beautiful art but only in secret. In Russia, being left-handed is frowned upon, and Anya must hide her talent. While hiding her art, Anya learns about famous left-handed artists and decides to imagine her own secret society of lefties. This little book has a big heart and relates the lesson about being true to yourself and overcoming societal expectations.
“The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons” by Natascha Biebow, illustrated by Steven Salerno
Who doesn’t love opening a new box of crayons? Today, colors like Purple Mountains’ Majesty, Sunset Orange and Lemon Yellow are widely known and used, but this selection wasn’t always the case. In this fun, illustrated biography, readers follow inventor Edwin Binney on his journey to create the much beloved Crayola crayon.
“We Are Artists: Women Who Made Their Mark on the World” by Kari Herbert
Offering stunning illustrations, “We Are Artists” provides a snapshot into the life of 15 female artists around the world. These bite-sized summaries are perfect for children interested in art and looking for a little inspiration. Through a blend of portraits and text, this book is sure to catch the eye.
“Art and How It Works: An Introduction to Art for Children” by Ann Kay, foreword by Tomie dePaola
From cave paintings to graffiti art and all that lies between, this book will take readers on a ride through history. With eye-catching text and simple prompts, “Art and How It Works” is perfect for children who are dipping their toes into the art world and encourages kids to think about and appreciate the art around them.
“Doodleville” written and illustrated by Chad Sell
When Drew’s art literally jumps off the pages of her sketchbook, it will take all her art club friends to save Doodleville. This graphic novel looks at the therapeutic power of art as an outlet for dealing with big emotions. This emotional, action-packed read originates from the author of “The Cardboard Kingdom.”
“Many Points of Me” by Caroline Gertler
Georgia’s father was a famous artist, known for the asterisms, or the patterns of stars that filled his paintings. Since his death, Georgia has lost her way and is determined to find it again before she misses her chance to participate in a prestigious art competition. This coming-of-age novel blends art history and self-expression in a way that is part exploration and part treasure hunt.
“Truly Tyler” written and illustrated by Terri Libenson
Tyler has always been a sports guy. When he starts hanging out with Emmie and her art friends, his teammates give him a hard time. When pressured to make a choice, Tyler must decide between playing it cool or being true to himself. Part of the “Emmie & Friends” series, this graphic novel is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier.
Young Adult Books
“Blue Period 1” by Tsubasa Yamaguchi
Everyone knows the expression a “starving artist,” which is why Yatora can’t understand why anyone would want to choose art as a career—that is, until he is captivated by a single painting that changes his world forever. This manga is all about the ups and downs of the art world from the perspective of a teenager.
“Slay” by Brittney Morris
Seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson isn’t only one of the few Black kids at her school. She’s also the secret creator of the massively popular online role-playing card game, Slay. When the lines between virtual and real life blur, Kiera must fight to save her game, all while keeping her identity a secret. This book packs a punch with themes such as gaming, cyberbullying, inclusivity and activism.
“Starfish” by Akemi Dawn Bowman
With her freedom on the line, Kiko is crushed when her dream of getting into the art school, Prism, is denied. Longing to escape a rocky homelife, Kiko jumps at the chance to tour art schools on the West Coast with a childhood friend. Starfish is a story about identity, overcoming anxiety and learning to express oneself.
“Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers” by Deborah Heiligman
Would Vincent van Gogh have achieved the acclaim he has today without the support of his younger brother, Theo? Drawing from 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo throughout his life, this book examines the extraordinary bond between two brothers. This nonfiction book would be great for any teen interested in art and art history.
Recommendations by Maranda L. Schoppert, head of children & teen services at the Germantown branch of Montgomery County Public Libraries