Book Mama: Books that Inspire Art

Books that Inspire Art

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

I came across this post the other day, Picture Books to Inspire Children’s Art by Stacy Loscalzo on the site the Artful Parent. I immediately ordered the books and they arrived yesterday. To say my boys and I were excited is an understatement. My boys love books and I love books too. The books happened to arrive during bath time and both boys wanted me to read them to them in the tub!  I said that we should wait until after the bath was over. Well, my eldest practically leapt out of the tub, got dressed and hopped into his bed to read the books. How wonderful! The three of us snuggled up and read all three books as well as the four others we ordered.

The three books featured in Stacey’s post are pictured below.  Stacey was right on in her recommendations! These books are all incredibly creative and unique, have fantastic illustrations and tell stories that can be interpreted differently by each individual that reads them. And, they most definitely do inspire art.

Perfect Square

by Michael Hall

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

It was a perfect square. It had four matching corners and four equal corners. And was perfectly happy. But on Monday, the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes. It wasn’t perfectly square anymore.

All throughout the week, the square is changed and turns itself into something new. After being torn, it becomes a garden. After being shattered, it becomes a bridge. This continues until Sunday, when nothing happens to the square. You will have to read the book to find out what happens at the end.

Art Follow-Up:

I cut out a few black squares and a few white squares. I gave my son one square and took on for myself. We both cut out square and then trade pieces and created something from those pieces.

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

Variations and Extensions:

  • Instead of cutting the paper, rip it, shred it or crumple it and do the above activity.
  • “Rewrite” the last page. What you become if you were that square?
  • Use the book as a starting point to talk about the attributes of a square and other shapes.


by Michael Thomson

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

This is a wordless book with illustrations that look so real they almost look like photographs. In Chalk, 3 children are walking by a playground on a rainy day when they find a bag with some chalk inside. The first child takes out a yellow piece of chalk and draws the sun. Soon after, the rain stops and the sun appears. Each child then takes a turn with the chalk, drawings something that then comes to life.

Art Follow-Up:

After reading, we did a very simple, but fun follow-up activity. We went to the store and bought some chalk. We brought it home and drew on black paper.  Then we wet the chalk and continued drawing.

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

Variations and Extensions:

  • Draw on the sidewalk, then use a hose of bucket of water to wash away the chalk just like the rain did in the book.
  • Leave chalk in water overnight and see what happens.
  • Try dipping chalk in other substances (vinegar, oil etc) and see how it changes the way the chalk draws.
  • Draw a picture (with chalk) of what you would like to come alive.  Then write a story to go with it!

Art and Max

By David Wiesner

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

I can paint too, Arthur! 

You, Max? Don’t be ridiculous.

Oh, all right. Just don’t get in the way

Arthur? What should I paint?

Well…you could paint me.

And that is how it all begins. Max does indeed paint Arthur and then a whole slew of trouble ensues.  The illustrations are incredible in the book. The details, the colors and the humor really draw the reader into the book. With very few words, the story itself is left up to interpretation by whoever is reading it.

Art Follow-Up:

  • I am not sure all parents would go for this, but if you are up for a mess then try this… Give your child some non-toxic, child-safe paint and let him paint his hands or feet using a variety of different colors. Then make hand or footprints on paper.  Even more daring? Allow your child to paint your hands or feet. And, definitely get lots of pictures!
  • Or, if you want a less messy project, give your child something like a box, a stick or large stone to paint.

Boy Mama Teacher Mama | Books that Inspire Art

Variations and Extensions:

  • Put up a large piece of paper and allow your child experiment with different ways of using paint- splatter painting, finger painting, stamping and squirting paint mixed with water from a water bottle.
  • Draw a picture of your child (or have him draw himself), then paint himself just like Max painted Arthur in the story.
  • Consider the ending of the book, what would you paint if you were Arthur?

Other Books that Inspire Art from Boy Mama Teacher Mama:

  • The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater- A bird drops and bucket of orange paint on Mr. Plumbean’s house and inspires him and, eventually others in the neighborhood, to paint their houses to match their dreams. See post, Book Mama: Unsung Read Alouds for more about this book.  After reading this, have your child draw, build or paint his dream house.
  • Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch- Brigid asks her mother for some new coloring markers and you should just see what she does with them! After reading this, outline a picture of your child and using colored markers,  have him color himself in like Brigid did.
  • Bronwyn Bancroft Books including Possum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words– Bancroft’s mixes techniques from her Aboriginal background (Aboriginal Dot Painting) with her own artistic creativity to create beautiful illustrations of Australian wildlife.  After reading this, have your child try to imitate her style.  Outline something from nature (plant, animal, river) and use the dots to bring it alive.

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8 thoughts on “Book Mama: Books that Inspire Art

  1. Pingback: Book Mama: Stories about Shapes {After School Linky} - Boy Mama Teacher Mama

    • Come back and let us know what you think! Another great one, my new discovery, is Windblown by Edouard Manceau. LOVE IT!!

  2. Thanks Steph. Michael Hall is great. If you can get your hands on “My Heart Is Like a Zoo”, we highly recommend it. We’ve done a few projects with Nate and he had a blast cutting out the shapes and creating pictures.

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