In celebration of Youth Art Month, here are four of our favorite picture books celebrating the arts! While the month seems to emphasize the visual arts, I have chosen to include additional art forms, including music and creative writing here! I hope these inspire you to explore your artistic side.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael López
I’ve gotten good at recognizing what kind of book covers will appeal to my son. And even though this one is beautiful, bright and colorful, I knew it wasn’t one he would gravitate toward. Sure enough, I was right. He’d keep putting it aside in the reading pile.
But once I convinced him to open it, he was enthralled by the story of young Mira who begins to brighten her gray city with color by giving away her doodles and drawings to the people on her street.
When Mira meets a man with a pocket full of paintbrushes, she teams up with him to transform her drab city with murals. Soon the whole neighborhood joins in, creating a multicultural block party complete with music, dancing and joy.
I love how this book shows the endless possibilities for art and how it truly is an avenue for transformation and bettering the world around us. Even cooler is the fact that it’s based on a true story – the story of the book’s illustrator, muralist Rafael López and his wife Candace, a graphic designer and community leader. Their vision to bring people together to create art to better their neighborhood became a model for other community-based art projects.
Frida and Bear Play the Shape Game!
by Anthony Browne; illustrated by Hanne Bartholin
I’m all for books that promote creativity making you want to stretch your artistic wings and this book does just that. I’m familiar with the the shape game from following various illustrator blogs and Twitter feeds; however, since I don’t consider myself a visual artist, I’d never thought to try it myself. But as soon as my son and I finished reading this book, we ran straight for the paper and markers. I can see us drawing together much more as a result of having read this book!
Play with Me!
by Michelle Lee
Pip, a little pig, and Nico, a bear, both want to play. However, their ideas of what to play are very different. I love the way that this book celebrates a love for music from a young age and the focus that it takes to become a musician – even though this passion may not be understood by others. Of course, once you find your passion, it’s impossible not to want to share it with others – as Pip finds out!
by Lori Mortensen; illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden
This character-driven picture book features a sweet little chicken, Lily, who is just as her name describes – a chicken. She won’t take the training wheels off her bike; won’t raise her hand in class; and she’s definitely not going to read a poem on-stage at the Grand-Slam Poetry Jam! However, with the encouragement of her friends, Lily tries a new artistic pursuit only to discover that she actually likes it. I love the way this book affirms shy children and let’s them know it’s okay to be themselves while also showing them that trying new things can bring new joy into their lives.