Inspiring Children’s Books

Children’s books add so much to an art room. Not only do they provide wonderful inspiration for great art lessons but reading a book for 5 minutes can calm the children and create a lovely transition into an art lesson. Here are a few titles that will be transformed into art lessons soon….

1. The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt is a visually stunning book that demonstrates color and radial symmetry. I plan to  teach a radial symmetry lesson with my third graders this winter and this book will be the star of the show.

2. Cat Tale by Michael Hall is a new publication from Greenwillow Books. Not only are the illustrations in the book a fantastic jumping off point to a lesson on shapes and color, but the book is a great cross-curriculum tie-in to a lesson on homophones and homonyms. Perfect for my second grade students!

3. Diego Rivera: His World and Ours by Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of Diego Rivera in a detailed but not too complex way. I don’t like to read stories that take up too much of my student’s art time, but if I can find a book that contains just the right amount of text, then I’m ecstatic. The illustration are inspired by Diego’s work so it’s easy for children to identify with Rivera’s art.

4. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Illustrated by Eric Litwin is an elementray school classic. So why haven’t I heard about this fabulous series until this year? I’m afraid I’m out of the “awesome” book loop! This is such a fun book. I can’t wait to do a Pete lesson.

5. Arlo Needs Glasses by Barney Saltzman is another glorious book by the author of Beautiful Oops! I’m planning on having a little Craft meets Art day with my second grade students. I won’t see these children until December, and it’ll be the first project that we do. Stay tuned!

6. Roberto, The Insect Architect by Nina Laden (Author of When Pigasso Met Mootisse) has been on my shelf for a while. I like to do an architecture lesson with my fifth grade students and this time, I’m approaching our line drawing lesson with an assemblage approach….just like Roberto.

Do you have a picture book that has inspired a recent art lesson? Please share your ideas below….

What do you think?

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  • MadelineBavli

    There is a terrific YouTube video to go along with Pete the Cat. The kids will enjoy singing “I Love My White Shoes” along with the authors. The web site is Also, there was recently a Pete the Cat Scholastic art contest.

  • Doranne

    Thanks for the ideas I haven’t seen some of these before. I like the book Iggy Peck Architect for architecture lessons for 1-2.

  • Hannah

    I also find picture books a fantastic source of inspiration for art projects with my preschoolers:

    Patty’s note: To see more of Hannah’s projects, you can visit the link above.

  • Susan Antonelli

    Cat Tale looks great! Thanks for sharing these titles. I am a book-a-holic. 🙂

  • Jess

    I LOVE Pete the Cat! The author was just in town a couple weeks ago. I had the kids choose an animal and color of shoes to draw. Then they wrote out the part, “I love my ___shoes,”….They LOVED it! Of course they have a crazy art teacher who sings and (poorly) dance while reading the book. You should see 1st graders raise their eyebrows at the art teacher for, “being weird.” Ha. Great book! I also just got DIego Rivera His World and Ours…I am excited to use it!

    🙂 Keep being AWESOME!

  • Mary

    Thanks for the great suggestions Patty! I did a Pete the Cat art lesson a while back.
    The kids had a lot of fun with it!

  • shelle

    Thanks for all the book suggestions! I just got the book Building Manhattan by Laura Vila. It has wonderful, colorful illustrations, with not too much text. I want to use it for a perspective lesson since it has several different perspectives: looking down at the skyscrapers, looking up at the skyscrapers, looking across the bridge at them, etc.

    • Patty Palmer

      Haven’t seen this one. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Carrie Christian

    Great Suggestions! We recently did a project inspired by David McKee’s book Elmer. You can check out the process and results at!

  • Leslie

    I love using books as well! I did a Pete the Cat lesson earlier this year. Eric Litwin has more recent books you might enjoy Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Both have great songs that go along with them. My kids LOVE them all!!

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