I’ve talked a bit about planning artist studies before, and since that’s what I’m busy doing right now, I thought I would share some book series that have been great additions to our learning!
My first go-to when looking for books about artists is Mike Venezia’s Getting to Know… series. These are good, concise biographies that are easy to read, even if your child is fairly young. The illustrations are funny and if I’m reading them out loud my son always asks if he can read the comics to us. Venezia also often includes examples of the artist’s work, too. Some of the books also have DVDs, too, and if our library has those I try to get them. If you want to purchase the books, I have had pretty good luck finding them at Half-Price Books for much cheaper than they are on Amazon.
Another series we’ve been using is Anholt’s Artists by Laurence Anholt. Each story is based on a real child and their interactions with a famous artist. The illustrations are bright and cheerful and the stories are very interesting. If you want a bit of background information, Anholt has a section on his website that shows how he goes about writing the books. This year I also purchased the Anholt’s Artists Activity Book that has different projects for kids to do that go along with the artists Anholt has written about.
The Smart About Art books are another series I found at our library. These books are a little different because instead of being written as a normal biography or as a story, they are set up to look like they are a student’s project. The style is very conversational and there are lots of small bits and pieces of information to look over. I like these books because they do a good job of covering the basic biographical information and also include lots of information that kids would find interesting.
If you have older children you should definitely look into Richard Muhlberger’s artist books. These books, such as What Makes a Degas a Degas?, are a great way to learn about an artist’s style and technique, which is something a lot of regular biographies for kids usually don’t cover in depth. We used What Makes a Raphael a Raphael? for our artist study and since my kids are younger I just chose a few parts that emphasized the points I was trying to make instead of sitting down and reading the whole thing to them. I read more of it on my own and it was like being back in art history in college, but it was easy to follow and the pictures were nice to have right next to the text. In some cases Muhlberger has even taken pictures and put numbers on each section and then explained each section in detail. These are books that will help even Mom learn more!
I hope these give you a good place to start planning for the year! If you’re looking for some more ideas and some free printables, check out the upcoming American Artist Appreciation Month series that will start Monday, August 12 at the Homeschool Share Blog. We’ve compiled biographies, activities, and notebooking pages to help you share some great artists with your kids!