Having written about our favorite museum books for everyone in the family in our Museum Book Flight, we found that there were too many books to include that were picture books. It’s the perfect medium (pictures are a darn good way to explore art!), and the perfect age to begin talking about the wonders of visiting a museum. So take these books home, and then take them with you to the museum!
Going to the Getty by Vivian Walsh, illustrated by J. otto Seibold
This delightful picture book takes you on a tour through the Getty Museum, a favorite haunt of ours in LA. The beautiful gardens are a part of this tour, as well as other high points of the Getty Center, such as the laboratories, the conservatory, manuscript galleries, and more. The tone is playful–and sophisticated. This charming and witty book is a perfect introduction to a visit to the Getty Center. Or take a virtual tour through the pages of the picture book!
You Can’t Take a Balloon into. . .by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, illustrated by Robin Glasser
The Metropolitan Museum, as we wrote about in our Museum Flight. Turns out you also can’t take a balloon into. . . The Museum of Fine Arts (see photo at left) or The National Gallery. There are three books in this series and they are all awesome!
Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonder of Museums edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen
If you ever thought museums are staid and serious, this is the right book to change your mind–and set the stage for your kids’ museum fieldtrips and family outings. This “visit” brings readers to encounters with dinosaur fossils, suits of armor, mobiles, and of course, paintings. The poems are also by the masters–like the editor, Lee Bennet Hopkins, Myra Cohn Livingston, Jane Yolen, and more. Each illustration, in a kind of folk art style, is bright and enticing, in acrylic and colored pencil. A perfect celebration book for a trip to the museum.
A picture book for all ages, with information like: Where does the word museum come from? What kinds of collections are housed in museums? (dinosaurs and mummies, of course–but also clocks, teeth, shells, even words!) There are giant museums and tiny tiny museums–and you can read about them in this book, with examples and fun illustrations from collections around the world.
Visiting the Art Museum by Laurene Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
The perfect book to inspire a new generation of art museum addicts. A brother and sister accompany their parents on an outing to a (fictional) art museum, and see a range of paintings from early aboriginal art to Greek and Roman statues through all main periods of art history right up to contemporary art. The combination of illustrations and actual photos of the pieces works well to bring the history of art alive.
Bailey at the Museum by Harry Bliss
All museums aren’t art museums, of course. And in this picture book/beginning reader graphic novel, we tag along as Baily the dog goes on a field trip to the Museum of Natural History. If you are one of the uninitiated in terms of the popular Bailey books, here’s the scoop: Baily is the only canine member of a class of human school children. Not only is the book entertaining for young children, but adults will appreciate the sly humor in Bliss’s illustrations. (His work may look familiar to fans of The New Yorker magazine!)
How to Take your Grandmother to the Museum by Molly Rose Goldman and Lois Wyse, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
In an appealing twist, this “how-to” book is written from the perspective of a 10-year-old girl (a real one!) who has an adventurous and delightful day of discovery when she takes her grandmother (and co-author) to the museum for the day. Besides being about the discoveries you can make at the museum, the book also celebrates the very special relationship between a girl and her grandma. (Don’t we know it!?) And really, could the grand-daughter have a more delightful name?
The Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc
Larry, a brand-new guard at the museum, is surprised to discover that is job is not so easy as he had imagined! He dozes off, and is stunned to wake up to discover that the entire collection of dinosaur skeletons has disappeared. This picture book for young children inspired the movie (though the plot is very different) , and is a delightful mystery-comedy. Non-scary illustrations make this perfect for the little ones in the intended audience.
The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt
Probably the most famous of the series by Laurence Anholt that highlights times in famous artists’ lives when they were touched or affected by children (Anholt’s Artists Books for Children). In this book, Julie, who hails from Paris, begs her mother to take her to walk in a country garden. When they visit Giverny, they befriend the “gardener,” Claude Monet. And Julie turns out to be the daughter of impressionist Berthe Morrisot. A kind of historical fiction picture book, more accessible to young children than the also charming Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork. Other wonderful books in Anholt’s series include: Van Gogh and the Sunflowers, Cezanne and the Apple Boy, Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail and many more.