Art and creativity – recommended books

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An Illustrated Guide to Māori Art

Terence Barrow

This book is a great resource to share with children when you are investigating Māori Art. The pictures are line drawn as well as black and white photographs. There are a number of small colour photos too of Tukutuku panels, moko and carving. We particularly like the simplicity of the line drawings and can see this book being used in investigations with children as it also shares the history of Māori Art.

Magic Places: The Adults’ Guide to Young Children’s Creative Art Work

Pennie Brownlee

This little book is a must have in any centre’s library and all teacher’s back pockets. It is jammed packed with photos, drawings, practical suggestions and theoretical points around creativity, stages of children’s art work, and setting up a successful creative programme. We recommend this book to teachers and parents who are keen to support children’s expressive arts and provide fantastic art experiences for young children in richly resourced environments.

Particularly interesting are the discussion into ‘So-called creative activities’ (p.35) such as colouring-in books, worksheets etc.

Kia Tipu te Wairua Toi – Fostering the Creative Spirit: The Arts in Early Childhood Education

Beverly Clark, Anne Grey & Lisa Terreni

This book captures the spirit of the New Zealand early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki. At the same time, this book showcases relevant examples of good teaching practice in Aotearoa New Zealand, early childhood Arts research and provocations about the Arts in early childhood education. It situates the Arts as an integral, essential, natural part of the early years. The aim of the publication is to also foster children’s indigenous, local, national and global identities through the arts but also to advocate for robust and on-going early childhood arts education. The text will be relevant to student teachers and teachers in New Zealand and to all those who have an interest in the Arts and their place in education.

This book is also available as an e-book.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. How to Unlock Your Hidden Artistic Talent

Betty Edwards

Betty Edwards believes “everybody has artistic talent and can be good at drawing”. Her book takes the reader through a series of exercises to help them tune in to their creative side. The book has lovely quotes and interesting illustrations.

If you are keen to explore Betty’s ideas it is necessary to follow through each chapter, and to practice and concentrate on the exercises. However, even without working through all the exercises, it is an interesting and inspiring book.

In the Spirit of the Studio

Lella Gandini, Lynn Hill, Louise Cadwell & Charles Schwall

This book is about children having ownership, freedom to explore and to communicate. It is about open ended possibilities between children and staff and how teaching and learning was transformed following the experiences of the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy. The invitation is for us to pretend to be visitors in our own classrooms in order to see new possibilities and find creative solutions. The challenge is for us to make our own meaning with the children in our culture.

It’s not a Bird yet: The Drama of Drawing

Ursula Kolbe

This book focuses completely on drawing. It has four parts, ‘Tuning into children’s drawing’, ‘Investigating with children’, ‘Enchanting the eye, expanding horizons’ and ‘Other matters’.

For teachers who think they are not ‘artists’ or who have not yet explored in detail the complexities of drawing, this is a great book. Ursula writes beautifully and is reflective and insightful. As well as having great photos and illustrations, this is a lovely book to read. It will inspire any teacher to pursue creative pathways with children.

Rapunzel’s Supermarket

Ursula Kolbe

A book filled with practical and inspiring suggestions for enriching children’s art experiences. From tools to use, to examples of ways to engage and have conversations with children; this is a comprehensive resource that should be in every centre.

How to Look at a Painting

Justin Paton

One of the ‘Ginger’ series and Winner of the New Zealand book awards 2006. “Justin Paton takes us on a journey of exploration through the centuries and across the painted world.”

For the non-arty amongst us, this is a great read, informative, humourous and very readable. This is a great book for teachers who say they know nothing about art. It will inspire the reader to learn more, look closer and think more deeply about the art they encounter.

The Art of Clean Up

Ursus Wehrli 

This Swiss book has no text. It is a book about art for all ages. A work of art is shown on one page in its entirety, then on the facing page each element of the painting is deconstructed and sorted according to pattern, shape or colour. The pictures provoke responses from all ages and are a wonderful point of discussion. Teachers and children will love this book for its creativity, its humour and its technique.

You might also be interested in ecRTnAz, an e-magazine on visual art education. We also have some great articles around art and creativity on our Articles page!

All profits gained from books purchased via the ELP website will be donated to the ECE Leadership Trust. This Trust is set up specifically to support teachers attending conferences and any other professional development.

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