How do you feel about art? Whatever you may think you feel, science has proven that viewing art offers an abundance of benefits for our wellbeing. In fact, one study by the University of Arkansas in 2014 revealed that after viewing art, students demonstrated improvement in information retention, critical thinking, historical empathy, and tolerance! Unfortunately, we can’t always take field trips to the art museum (especially during this year of COVID, with field trips of any kind being almost non-existent), but we can expose our children to art in different ways.
First, choose your classroom decorations wisely. Sure, you can’t afford an original Monet on a teacher’s salary, but lovely reproduction prints are readily available in a multitude of places. Choosing prints that could tie in with your content area offers you an opportunity to create a beautiful setting for your students to learn in and cross-curricular learning.
Second, you can incorporate art history lessons into your classes by viewing famous artwork on your SmartBoard and incorporating its history into your content area. Just image search the artwork of your choice, display, and teach!
Third, you can take students on virtual field trips using a plethora of resources that have been made available due to the pandemic.
And lastly, you can incorporate beautiful artwork by less famous, but equally as talented artists, into your classroom by choosing books with beautiful artwork and illustrations. There are so many stunning picture books available today in a variety of styles. Choosing these books and spending time admiring the artwork within them is another way to expose our children to art, inspire creativity, and faciliate the wonderful benefits of viewing art in your daily classroom activities.
Below, you’ll find 10 books that are absolutely beautifully illustrated. Start with these, but don’t stop there! There’s just so much loveliness available – search it out when choosing your next read-aloud!
Maud and Grand-Maud by Sarah O’Leary
Here is a celebration of the unique bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Maud loves the weekends when she stays at her grandma’s house. There’s always breakfast for supper, matching nightgowns, black-and-white movies, and–best of all–someone to listen to her dreams for her life as a grown-up. But what makes the visits extra special is what Grand-Maud has hidden in an old chest under Maud’s bed. She may find a paint set, a toy, homemade cookies, or hand-knit mittens or sweaters. Best of all is when Maud finds something that belonged to Grand-Maud when she was a little girl. In this story of family togetherness, Maud wants to be just like Grand-Maud when she grows up.
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.
The Mayflower by Libby Romero
Step on board the Mayflower and meet the amazing crew and passengers, from burly sailors to pilgrims, servants, orphaned children, and animals. Discover who the pilgrims were and why they chose to risk their lives to make the treacherous journey across the Atlantic, relive the ferocious storms as the Mayflower crested gigantic waves, find out what life was really like on board for the 102 passengers, and discover the secret history of the second ship, the Speedwell.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrice Potter
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the original classic by Beatrix Potter. The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and endures as Beatrix Potter’s most popular and well-loved tale. It tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden!
An Artist’s Alphabet by Norman Messenger
At first glance, this elegant alphabet book showcasing both upper- and lowercase letters seems to follow a familiar formula. There’s an acrobat standing atop a horse to form a big letter A and another curled under herself to make a small one. There’s a colony of beetles attached to the leaves they’ve munched, creating a big and a small letter B. But then comes the letter C, made of sea waves evoking the artist Hokusai. Or a lowercase I in the form of a pen that has left an ink smudge, or two kingly beasts that create the letter K. And what of the many letters, equally fantastical and fascinating, whose associations are left to the viewers’ imaginations? Ingenious and intriguing, beautiful and full of stunning detail, this is an alphabet book sure to invite many repeat explorations.
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation–but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends.
Shy by Deborah Freedman
Shy loves birds. He’d love to watch them fly and hear them sing, but he’s only ever read about them in books. . .until a real bird comes along. He’s dying to meet her, but there’s just one problem: Shy is, well, shy–so shy, in fact, that he’s afraid to leave the gutter of the book. Can Shy overcome his fears and venture out onto the page?
Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes
There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but a child uses the power of words, in the form of an invocation, to persuade fate to bring her family a snow day — a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together.
Moon: A Peek-Through Picture Book by Britta Teckentrup
Over deserts and forests, Arctic tundra and tropical beaches, the moon shines down on creatures around the world. Children will love discovering how it changes from day to day as the lunar cycle is shown through clever peek-through holes, each revealing the moon in a different size and shape.
If I Had a Little Dream by Nina Laden
Celebrate the wonder of the world in this reassuring picture book about the joy, love, and beauty that is part of each and every day. Our world is full of possibilities if you look for them.
*Summaries from www.bookshop.org
Check out my Picture Books Pinterest Board for more ideas!