15 Art Books for Preschoolers to Bring Out Their Inner Picasso

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Brooke Bailey Peters

Staff Writer

Brooke Bailey Peters is a library tour guide by day and an indie author by night. She's a sucker for poetry slams, thrillers with unlikable protagonists, and handwritten letters. Her novel The Artist's Retreat is available on Amazon. She'd love to hear from you at

This summer, the things that you normally do with you preschooler—like story circle at the public library and long playdates at the playground—are on hiatus. That said, all you need is creativity and craft supplies to break up the monotony brought about by the pandemic. If you’re feeling stuck, these art books for preschoolers might be exactly what you need to keep your kiddos stimulated and engaged.

Art Books for Preschoolers With Hands-on Activities

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Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers by Susan Schwake

The idea of teaching a little one how to make art can be daunting, but this book breaks things down into easy lesson plans for busy parents and caretakers. Each activity from painting to printmaking has a supply list, photographs that illustrate each step, and images of finished projects. It also sprinkles in a little bit of art history by using the work of famous artists for inspiration. Who says preschoolers are too young to be introduced to fine art?

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Low-Mess Crafts for Kids: 72 Projects to Create Your Own Magical Worlds by Debbie Chapman

If you dread art projects because of the inevitable cleanup that follows, I’ve got you covered. Debbie Chapman has compiled a treasure trove of crafting activities that won’t require you to scrub glitter and glue out of your carpet. The other added bonus is that the bulk of the equipment her crafts require are things that you probably already have lying around the house.

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Collage Workshop for Kids: Rip, Snip, Cut, and Create With Inspiration From The Eric Carle Museum by Shannon Merenstein

If you’ve got colorful paper, safety scissors, and glue, you’re off to a great start when it comes to making collages with your kids! This book walks you through different types of collage projects, teaching new techniques along the way. The instructions for each project are accompanied by plenty of photographs to spark ideas and inspire your little ones to make vibrant creations that you’ll treasure for years to come.

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My First I Can Draw by Thomas Nelson

While drawing is a lot of fun, it’s also a great way to improve motor skills during important developmental stages. This book starts out with the basics of how to draw shapes. From there, it teaches your child how they can transform those shapes into fun things like ladybugs, pandas, seahorses, and sharks. There’s plenty of work room to practice each drawing beside the step-by-step instructions as well as blank pages for additional doodles in the back of the book.

Art Books For Preschoolers that Teach Color Concepts

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

This book teaches children about how the primary colors can be mixed into secondary colors. It also has important messages to share about how rich life can be when we learn to embrace people that may be different than we are. A book about color concepts and diversity? Count me in! As an added bonus, Chung has a free activity guide for the book on his website.

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This Book is Gray by Lindsay Ward

When the colors of the rainbow won’t let Gray hang out with them, Gray decides to make an all-gray book. When the other colors see it, they give Gray a hard time, claiming the book is a dreary disaster. Eventually, the other colors realize that some really cool things like hippos and elephants are gray. Gray partners with the other colors to make the pictures in their book come to life.

Picture Books for Preschoolers About Art and Artists

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ABCs of Art by Sabrina Hahn

Like most alphabet books, you get a word for every letter, but you also get much more. For example, after Hahn shares that “A” is for apple, she shares the colors they come in, and that Cezanne painted them. Beside her writing about apples is Cezanne’s painting The Basket of Apples. Each letter that follows is also accompanied by a famous work of art. Who knows what sharing Monet and Cassatt with your children early on might lead to down the road?

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Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parra

Introduce your little one to Frida Kahlo through this fun picture book! The story shares how she used her art and imagination to get through hard times and eventually become one of Mexico’s greatest artists. After reading about Frida’s self-portraits, encourage your preschooler to create a self-portrait of their own. If they don’t have pets to incorporate into their paintings as Frida did, they can capture themselves with their favorite stuffed animals.

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Think Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison

This board book inspires children by introducing them to creative women that took the world by storm. Does your child marvel at buildings with unique design? This book will teach them all about architect Zaha Hadid. Does your little one love to paint? Maybe they’ll get big ideas of their own after reading about American Modernist Mary Blair.

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Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre and Zac Retz

Matty is a glue enthusiast and gravitates toward projects that will let him get messy, like balls of glue and glue mustaches. While his parents encourage his love of sticky art, his teacher is not amused. She’s always reminding him to use less glue so that his projects will dry. One day, he goes a little overboard in the classroom and finds himself glued to the desk. Instead of just being a little boy, he’s his own art project!

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The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

Tommy wants to grow up to become a brilliant artist like his older cousins that are in art school. That’s why he’s over the moon when he finally gets to take art lessons. When the teacher won’t let him use his special crayons and makes him follow the same prompt as everyone else, Tommy has to figure out how to maximize creativity while still following the rules.

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Beautiful Oops! By Barney Saltzberg

If your little one is a perfectionist who gets upset when their art projects don’t go according to plan, this is the perfect book for them. In Beautiful Oops!, Saltzberg shows how things like rips and stains can result in something magical and unexpected. This is a great reminder that it’s okay to make mistakes.

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Anywhere Artist by Nikki Slade Robinson

If your little one is stubborn about only making art with their favorite tools, this book will help them think outside the box. It proves that you can make art any time, anywhere with the things that you find around you in your everyday life. The narrator shares how she creates with the things she finds in nature when she’s in the forest, at the beach, or even caught in a rainstorm. Robinson shares the joy that comes from being imaginative and resourceful.

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Never Let A Unicorn Scribble by Diane Alber

This is an adorable story about a little girl who wants to teach her pet unicorn to scribble and draw. When she tries to put a crayon in the unicorn’s mouth, the unicorn eats it instead of trying to color. Then she tries to give the unicorn an art lesson, and it backfires. When she imagines tying crayons to the unicorn’s horn, bright colors and glitter explode everywhere. By the end of the book, you discover that all of this was just in her imagination, and the little girl is actually the artist behind the glittery masterpiece on her easel. As a fun bonus, the inside of the dust jacket for the hardcover edition is a poster your little one can hang on their wall!

The Day the Crayons Quit Cover

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

The crayons are fed up. The red crayon feels like it gets overworked on holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. The purple crayon is tired of going outside of the lines. And the beige crayon? No one can name him correctly! When Duncan finds that his crayons have all gone on strike, what’s a child artist to do? Ask your little one which of their crayons are probably worn out from frequent use and challenge them to try out some of the colors they’ve yet to explore.

If you’re on the hunt for more art books for preschoolers, check out these additional suggestions for your child’s TBR.