As an art teacher, I’m always looking for picture books that I can usse to teach lessons, great jumping-off points into projects or discussion. These books here are ones that I love and that teach some of the foundational attitudes and postures of creativity. Here are our favorites:

Ish by Peter Reynolds

Ish by Peter Reynolds

This is GREAT for helping students get out of the perfectionist shut-down cycle of that ends in “I quit!”, helps them work through frustration and even deal with critique, and opens up a conversation for different modes of seeing and expressing things– setting up realism as one way of expression, while creating an understanding of other forms of expression (like drawing “Ish-ly!”).

Not A Box by Antionette Portis

Why are you sitting in that box?”
“It’s not a box!”
The simplest of concepts told in a quick dialogue style, with sweet lively line drawings to kickstart the imaginationThe nutshell? A rabbit plays with a cardboard box, imagining it to be all sorts of delightful things. On his way, rabbit invites children to not only ask “what is this?” but “what could this be?” and “what can I do with it?” In short, it teaches them to imagine.

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

“I just can’t draw,” grumbles Vashti. But her art teacher challenges Vashti’s scowl and her blank paper. It’s almost a dare, “Just make your mark.” This story is perfect for dealing with the most hesitant artists, and for helping students find their way of making a mark, their art-language.

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
The ultimate ode to problem-solving and creative-critical thinking, Beautiful Oops invites us to see not despair but opportunity in our mistakes. Instead of throwing away our work & considering it time wasted, what if we re-imagined it to see what it could be? So fun, and exceptionally creative book-making. Fold outs, clear pages, pop-ups, all cleverly disguised as mistakes.

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by David Roberts

The story of shy but brave Rosie Revere is perfect for encouraging students to persevere, no matter what other people say, and that failure is a step on the way to success. If our kids are to be creators, they must be fail-ers, over and over again producing brave “big flops” that help them learn and refine their ideas! If we can do anything to help them embrace and not fear that process, we will all be better off!