This Little Chick

Picture Books: Extraordinary Art, Conveniently Portable

Picture books are often children's first exposure to art. As galleries of artists' work—all within the pages of books—they reflect the vast variety of art mediums we find in museums. Some artists create with real-world materials like paint and pencils; others make collage or etchings. Some even work in virtual media like computer graphics, and, of course, some use a combination of tools and methods.

When my children were younger, I would check out piles of picture books to read with them—and for the pleasure of viewing the artwork. And even though my children have moved beyond picture books, I still enjoy opening these miniature exhibitions, browsing through old favorites or finding new artists.

In honor of National Picture Book Month this November, I recommend these resources:

  • Show Me a Story! (Why Picture Books Matter) A blog post by Lisa Champelli, our own Library Strategist, on why picture books are important for children in reading and language development.

  • Every Picture Tells a Story A Facebook page by Mary D'Eliso, librarian at Bloomington's University Elementary School, with posts featuring artwork around a theme or an illustrator. The novel and interesting connections she makes, across a variety of picture books and artists, reveal an impressive depth of knowledge about children's literature.

  • A Brief History of Children’s Picture Books and the Art of Visual Storytelling Maria Popova of Brain Pickings reviews the book Children's Picturebooks: the Art of Visual Storytellingand offers a brief summary of the history of the genre, complete with links to more information on artists and their creations.

  • Caldecott Medal Winners and Honor Books This award is given out every year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. See all the winners and honorable mentions from 1938 to the present.

  •  Mazza Museum A museum of the diverse art of children's book illustrators, the Mazza displays more than 8,000 pieces in six galleries in Findlay, Ohio. While it's not the shortest drive away, the admission price (free!) makes the chance to see picture book art in an actual museum well worth considering.

  • The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art Even farther out (in Amherst, Massachusetts), the Carle should be on your radar if you're out east. It houses more than 11,000 objects, including 7,300 permanent collection illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren.

  • Picture Book Art Booklist A list compiled by Library Staff showcasing just a few of the amazing artists and their artwork in the Library's picture book collection to introduce you to picture book art.

Picture Book Art