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I love teaching art in our homeschool. I have always loved great art. While I am not the best artist, I also enjoy doing art with my kids. I like to find great books and resources that really make my kids interested in art, too. There are not very many fun books that excite my kids about different styles of art. We’ve only discovered a few. I recently came across a fabulous series of books called How Artists See written by Colleen Carroll and published by Abeville Press. I read some solid reviews on the series and decided to try getting in touch with the author about a possible review here. I was so pleased to hear back from her and the publishing company. I got to talk with Colleen on the phone and was so impressed with her kindness and generosity! They sent me four books in the series, the teacher’s manual and the 4 board books to review here. And let me just say… these books are awesome!
How Artists See is a series of 12 books, plus another set of board books for younger kids. I was given 4 of the books (How Artists See the Elements, How Artists See Cities, How Artists See Work, and How Artists See Play), and a set of four Junior board books plus a teacher’s guide for free in exchange for a review. Each of the books in the series focuses on one topic and discusses the various ways different artists portray those things in their artwork. Each book features sixteen diverse pieces of art about that subject. Along with each piece of art there is a wonderful description explaining that art piece and how the artists portrayed the subject. The books are written in a conversational format allowing kids to really interact with the text and the pictures. There are activities and questions throughout the books allowing kids to learn about and explore the art in unique ways. Something I loved is that it offers invitations to touch the pictures, trace lines, find things hidden, compare two pieces of art, and more. My kids had to sit right by me as I read it to them so they wouldn’t miss an opportunity to interact with the pictures! They books really give kids a great introduction to art and all of the different styles and techniques of art.
At the end of each book, it gives you more information about the artists and paintings. There are brief biographies about each artist featured, details of where you can see the art work in person as well as ideas for further readings. My kids really like knowing where around the world the different paintings are. Some of the museums I have visited, so I like to tell them which ones I have seen in person.
The board books are just pictures- with no text except the name of the work of art and the artist. This is perfect for the littlest ones. My 3-year-old son literally took these to his room the first day and they haven’t been out since. He loves them! They have been his bedtime stories nearly every night this month. They are full of great works of art about subjects that the little ones love. We got ones on Trains, Dogs, Horses and Babies. He says his favorite book is the one about Dogs. There is a picture in there of a dog built all out of flowers and he thinks that is the coolest! What I love about them is it just allows you to look at artwork with your kids in a fun way. They are exposed to these beautiful pictures and get used to viewing art.
The Teacher’s Manual is also an incredible resource. It is in a notebook with the lessons three-hole punched. It has five different lesson ideas for each book. The lessons have ideas for art projects, writing prompts, and discussion. There are some really great teaching elements in it and I have loved using it along with the books to help expand on what we learned from reading them. At the back of the manual there is an artist index telling where to find different artists in the books. It lists all of the skills and content covered in each lesson. It also gives the national standards for art education that are covered in the lessons for those teaching in a school setting.
One of the projects we did was with the book How Artists See Play. This one had a fun painting about a dragon that had different animal characteristics. In the teacher manual it had the kids create their own fantasy animals by combining different parts of animals. My kids LOVED doing this!
Here are some of their creations:
These are a wonderful resource for teaching art to kids. I have loved having the chance to review these books.