Do you have a bookworm in your family? As a child (and even now as an adult), my favorite way to pass the time was curled up on the couch with my nose in a book. I took books with me everywhere—piano lessons, long road trips, even to school, in case there was a free moment with no homework.
In our programs for preschoolers at the museum, we make a deliberate effort to link early literacy to learning how to look at art. For both, there is a connection between what you see and making meaning, whether it is recognizing that D-O-G carries the meaning of your favorite furry friend, or whether it is looking at the shapes and colors in a painting to see how they create an overall image. That’s why you will often see us in the galleries, reading a picture book and then looking at a work of art.
We often search for picture books that relate to a kid-friendly theme such as animals, weather, shapes, or snow. But I’ve also built up a collection of museum favorites—stories that take place in a museum—for all ages. So while there’s a chill in the air and it’s more appealing to stay snuggled up inside, why not pick up one of these museum reads? (And then if you are adventurous, come visit the Dallas Museum of Art!)
Jack in Search of Art by Arleen Boehm
On a rainy day, Jack finds himself outside a museum with a welcome sign reading “Come See Art!” Curious, he wanders inside and begins his search for Art. When he’s told that art is throughout the museum, the silly bear still doesn’t realize that Art is not a person. Young children will love that they are in on the joke while Jack continues his search. Full color reproductions of masterpieces are seamlessly woven into the colorful cartoon-like illustrations.
Babar’s Museum of Art by Laurent de Brunhoff
The lovable Babar and Celeste decide to turn an old railroad station into an art museum to house their collection. On opening day, everyone admires the paintings and sculptures, which of course feature all elephants. Art-loving parents will chuckle at the elephant-themed take on famous paintings, while children learn that “there are no rules to tell us what art is.”
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
Before there was Night at the Museum, there was Mixed-up Files, and to this day, I still dream of running away to an art museum like Claudia and her brother Jamie. The fact that they stumble into the middle of a mystery while at the Metropolitan Museum of Art just sweetens the deal. This works well as a read-aloud and would be the perfect lead-in to a visit to the DMA where you can make up your own running away to the museum story.
The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
The Sixty-Eight Rooms is like a mash-up of Mixed-up Files; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and the Bobbsey twins. Best friends Ruthie and Jack discover a magic key that shrinks them into just the right size for exploring the famous miniature Thorne rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. In this magical world, they discover a decades old mystery that links the past to the present.
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
When a famous Vermeer painting goes missing, sixth graders Petra and Calder team up, resolved to follow the clues the thief leaves behind in the newspaper. Some have labeled this book as The Davinci Code for kids—puzzles, hidden messages in the illustrations, and the art itself will have readers searching for the answers right along with Petra and Calder. The two have even more artsy adventures in Wright 3 and The Calder Game.
Posted by: Leah