Our friend and neighbor, Mr. Ken the Librarian, has agreed to be our guest blogger! Look out for his posts on preparing for a visit to the High Museum, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the Alliance Theatre! For the first post in his series, he writes about books for young children on art museums. -Nicole
Books are a great way to enhance the experience of a visit to the art museum with your family. If your child is already an avid art museum attendee, books can amplify their positive experiences. On the other hand, if going to the art museum is a harder sell for your child, you might benefit by preparing for your artistic excursion with some age-appropriate books.
Books can help children with expectations about what museums are and why people enjoy them. Reading a storybook where the main character goes to a museum gives children a touchstone and the experience is demystified.
In Babar’s Museum of Art (Closed Mondays) by Laurent de Brunhoff we are taken to an art museum by a favorite storybook character that will be familiar to children, parents, and grandparents alike. Babar’s museum is remarkably similar to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, but in this museum all the famous artworks feature elephants.
Anthony Browne makes Willy the Chimp a participant in recognizable world masterpieces in Willy’s Pictures, and this time all the characters are simian.
British author-illustrator James Mayhew has created a charming series of art-centered books with a character named Katie. Katie steps into some of the world’s most famous paintings and they come alive, creating all sorts of unexpected adventures. Titles include Katie’s Picture Show, Katie and the Bathers, Katie and the Mona Lisa, and Katie Meets the Impressionists.
If it’s modern art you’re interested in, try Mousterpiece: A Mouse-sized Guide to Modern Art by Jane Breskin Zalben, in which a mouse that lives in a museum discovers an appreciation for the likes of Mondrian, Pollock, and Warhol. In Snail Trail: In Search of a Modern Masterpiece by Jo Saxton
a Matisse-inspired art-loving snail wends his way past modern masterpieces until he finds his own portrait.
Books can further spark your child’s artistic curiosity by creating a “Where’s Waldo”-type experience with “hidden” objects within artworks. Lucy Micklethwait, for example, has created a whole series of “I Spy” books with art themes. She explains that she played “I Spy” with artworks with her own children, and what a good game it is! Once you practice this game with artworks in books, try it out in the gallery. It’s amazing what children will spot—sometimes things you may never have noticed yourself! Micklethwait’s series includes: I Spy a Freight Train: Transportation in Art, I Spy an Alphabet in Art, I Spy Colors in Art, I Spy a Lion: Animals in Art, I Spy Shapes in Art, and I Spy Two Eyes: Numbers in Art.
Books are also great at providing child-accessible stories behind artists and artworks.
Here are some other titles that address the art museum experience:
Library Mouse: A Museum Adventure / Daniel Kirk
Madame Martine Breaks the Rules / Sarah Brannen
Museum ABC / Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum Trip / Barbara Lehman
See Art? / Jon Sciezka
William & the Missing Masterpiece / Helen Hancocks
-Mr. Ken the Librarian, Peachtree Branch Library