Teaching art history to kids can be as easy as opening a book. Don’t stress about knowing it all before you start teaching about some of the greatest artists of all time. Check out the artist list below, pick a time period that interests you and your young artist and start teaching kids art history through literature!

Teaching art history through literature…

If you read the Kitchen Table Classroom often you know that I love teaching just about everything through books. Art history is no exception.  There is a plethora of children’s books that bring these great artists and artists movements to life in a way that a textbook just can’t do.

While most of the books listed are picture books I urge you to share them not just with your elementary children, but also with your middle and high schoolers.  These illustrated stories tell many facts about the artists as well as set such a great context for the time in which the artist lived.

Art through the movements….

An art movement is a title given to a group of artists or art that have some things in common.  These commonalities might include artistic ideals, styles, technical approach, or time frame.  While the movements listed below are in chronological order the list of movements is in no way complete.

Orphism, Neoclassical art, Bauhaus art, Art Deco, and Deconstructivism name just a few.  Just because these movements aren’t listed here doesn’t mean they’re not appropriate for kid’s discussion and viewing.

I’ve created this free printable timeline to help you and your kiddos have a bit of context for each art movement you’ll be reading about! This art movement timeline is sized to fit on standard 8.5 x 11 copy paper.  Print and use for display or as a reference in an artist’s notebook.  It’s easy to refer back to as you read through the books below.

Teach art history through children's literature with this huge book list organized according to art movement and free printable art timeline for kids!

 

Get the printable artist timeline here…

Use the form below to become a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber. Then go check your email and confirm that you really do want to become a KTC subscriber. Upon confirming you’ll receive a subscriber only password that will give you instant access to my Free Resource Library.  There you’ll find this printable art timeline in PDF form as well as hundred of other free printable resources.

Are you already a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber…

If you’re already a KTC subscriber there’s no need to subscribe again just to grab this art timeline.  Just use your subscriber password to log in to my Resource Library and download away.  Forgot the password? I’ve got you covered! Just check the bottom of every newsletter I send for the password and a link to the library.

Art of the Stone Age

30,000 b.c.–2500 b.c.

Where Is Stonehenge? by True Kelley is part of the “Where Is” series, a sister series to the popular “Who Is” series.  These books are perfect for the the mid elementary to middle school student.  They are a favorite of mine because they give a large amount inf info in an easily digestible manner.

What Was Stonehenge For?by Anita Croy 

The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux by Emily Arnold McCully 

The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein 

Discovery in the Cave by Mark Dubowski 

Egyptian Art

3100 b.c.–30 b.c.

Who Was King Tut? by Roberta Edwards 

Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris by Emily Sands 

Treasury of Egyptian Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Monsters & Mortalsby Donna Jo Napoli from National Geographic 

Greek & Roman Art…

850 b.c.– a.d. 476

The art of ancient Greeks and Romans is called classical art. Greek and Roman artists and architects pursued the beauty, harmony, and proportion.  Subject matter often dealt with the relationships of the Greek and Roman people in relationship to their Gods.

Where Is the Parthenon? by Roberta Edwards 

The Severe Style of Ancient Greek Art by Baby Professor 

Ancient Rome for Kidsby Baby Professor  

Where Is the Colosseum?by Jim O’Connor 

 

Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Art…

653 b.c.–a.d. 1900

Japanese wood cuts…

The Great Wave: A Children’s Book Inspired by Hokusaiby Veronique Massenot uses artwork inspired by that of Hokusai’s wood cut to inspire a story about a Japanese fisherman. A reproduction of The Great Wave as well as some factual information is included as well.

Hiroshigeby Adele Schlombs is a smallish book with beautiful illustrations.  While not meant exclusively for children it does provide lots of examples of Hiroshige’s ukiyo-e wood prints.

The birth of Buddha….

This was also the time of Buddha’s birth and the time that Buddhism spread into China.  Under the Bodhi Tree: A Story of the Buddha by Deborah Hopkinson and Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddhaby Jonathan Landaw are a fun way to explore these ideas and give a little insight to the time. 

Byzantine and Islamic Art….

a.d. 476–a.d.1453

Byzantine art is the art of the Eastern Roman Empire.  It was less realistic than the classical work of the Greeks and Romans.  The purpose of Byzantine art was to glorify the Christian religion so the art of this time tended to have religious subject matter.

While children’s books about Byzantium art aren’t easy to come by this Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them by DK is a nice survey type book that will give kids insight as to where Byzantine art fits into the larger art history picture.

Art of the Middle ages…

(500–1400)

The art of the Middle Ages includes Celtic art, Carolingian Renaissance, Romanesque, and the Gothic periods.

The art of architecture…

Pippo the Fool by Tracey E. Fern tells the story of the construction of an architectural masterpiece–Brunelleschi’s Dome through a fun and playful story.

Cathedral: The Story of Its Constructionby David Macaulay is the story of the construction of an imaginary cathedral.  Macaulay’s intricate pen-and-ink illustrations make this book perfect for a budding young architect!

Renaissance artists…

The Renaissance Artists: With History Projects for Kids by Diane C. Taylor will introduce your kiddos to five renowned Renaissance artists;  Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian.  Hands on activity suggestions and open ended assignments make this book an easy one to build an entire Renaissance unit around!

Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists Series by Mike Venezia has titles that cover Sandro Boticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo,  Raphael, and Titian. These books contain a LOT of information but balance it all out with playful excerpts and cartoon illustrations as well as reproductions of the artist’s work.

Mannerism

(1527–1580)

Mannerism is also known as the Late Renaissance. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion and balance, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities. The result is compositions that often look artificial, as opposed to a more natural look.

El Greco from the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series will introduce your kids to the  work and life of “the Greek.”

Encourage your kids to “play with their food” after reading Hello, Fruit Face!: The Paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo by Claudia Strand.  Arcimboldo paints images of human faces created from food, flowers, and everyday items making for some super fun discussions and explorations!

Baroque

(1600–1750)

Baroque art began in Rome, Italy in the 17th century.  It was known for drama and grandeur.  A common characteristic of the Baroque period is chiaroscuro or the interplay between dark and light to create drama and contrast.

Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs: A story about Rembrandt van Rijnby Molly Blaisdell tells the story of Rembrandt teaching his son, Titus, to draw.

And of course Mike Venezia from the World’s Greatest Artist series has a Rembrandt edition.

Neoclassical art…

(1750–1850)

Neoclassical art draws inspiration from the classical art of the Greeks and Romans. Finding kid friendly literature about Neoclassical period isn’t easy.  For more info look into the art of Jacques-Louis David and Antonio Canova.

The Romantic period…

(1780–1850)
The Romantic period didn’t have one clearly defined style.  Rather, the Romantic movement was about intense personal expression.  Romanticism was widespread, covering most of Europe and even moving into the United States.

Get to know Romantic artists Eugene Delacroix and Fransisco Goya with Mike Venezia.

The work of Henri Rousseau is thought to have inspired the Romanticism movement.  He has many kid friendly titles including The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseauby Michelle Markel and Henri Rousseau: Art for Children by Ernest Lloyd Raboff are fun introductions to the wild, jungle art of Rousseau!

Check this post for two free Rousseau printables and a more complete book list!

The Realism movement…

(1848–1900)

The Realism movement began in France in the 1850’s.  Realism rejected the Romantic period and instead embraced an interest in more everyday subject matter like common laborers, and ordinary people in ordinary surroundings engaged in real activities.

It pains me to admit that I struggled to find kid’s literature that fits this category.  I’ll add that some of the more well known artists of this time were Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, and Honoré Daumier. I encourage you to research these artists with or before you encourage your children to as some are more child friendly than others.

The Impressionism art movement…

(1865–1885)

Impressionism emerged in France in the 1870’s.  The Impressionist movement rejected the realistic detail of the Realism movement for looser impressions of their subjects, which were often found outside.  Visible brush strokes and an emphasis on color and light make this style easy to spot.

This colorful style is popular and easy to talk about with kids.  The children’s literature choices for this movement are varied and many! I’ll divide them here by artist.

Claude Monet 

For even more book suggestions and a free printable artist response worksheet see this post about writing and talking about the work of Claude Monet.

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt

Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk

Where is the Frog?: A Children’s Book Inspired by Claude Monet by Geraldine Elschner 

Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Smart About Art: Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Paintings That Smile by True Kelley 

Renoir’s Colors by Marie Sellier

Renoir for Kids (The Great Art for Kids Series) by Margaret E. Hyde

Pierre Auguste Renoir by Mike Venezia 

Edgar Degas

For additional book suggestions and free artist printable and Degas word search see this post!

Degas and the Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt 

Edgar Degas: Paintings That Dance by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari

Mary Cassatt

Cassatt is one of my favorite artists to introduce young kids to.  Her subject matter is relatable, often about mothers and children.  She is also one of the earliest female artists to be included in popular children’s literature. For more Mary Cassatt info plus a free printable artist response page and a Cassatt word search see this post

Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter by Barbara Herker

Quiet Time with Cassatt by Julie Merberg 

Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures by Jane O’Connor 

Post-Impressionism

(1885–1910)

Post-Impressionism is an art movement that developed in France in the late 1880’s.  This term encompasses several different styles that came about, chronologically, after the Impressionist and before the Fauvists.

Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh is one of the most recognized artists in the world and a plethora of kid’s lit is available about him.  For a more complete list as well as a Van Gogh artist response worksheet and a fun word search click here!

Katie and the Starry Night by James Mayhew 

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt  

Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky by Barb Rosenstock 

Paul Cezanne 

Cezanne and the Apple Boy by Laurence Anholt

Paul Cezanne by Mike Venezia 

Georges-Pierre Seurat 

Joining the Dots: The Art of Seurat by In-sook Kim 

Georges Seurat by Iain Zaczek 

Fauvism and Expressionism

(1900–1935)

The Fauves is French for the wild beasts.  What fun art movement to discuss with kids! This group, led by Henri Matisse, used bright unnatural colors in an expressive manner.

The Expressionist movement took place during the early part of the 1900s. Th Expressionists used vivid, shocking colors and distorted unnatural forms in order to express feelings.

Edvard Munch-Art Profiles for Kids by Jim Whiting 

Cubism

(1908- 1920’s)

The Cubist art movement, led by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, began to look at new ways to divide up objects.  The same object was often looked at from many different angles within the same artwork

100 Pablo Picassos by Violet Lemay

Why Should I Care About Picasso?: A Biography of Pablo Picasso Just Kids! by Sam Rogers 

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter 

The Three Musicians: A Children’s Book Inspired by Pablo Picasso by Veronique Massenot 

Dada and Surrealism

(1917–1950)

The Dada movement was founded in Switzerland and was meant to poke fun at the meaninglessness of the modern world. Surrealism was born out of the earlier artistic movement of Dada.   Surrealist art often focused on the subconscious thoughts of the artist.  It sometimes made little sense to the viewer and appeared dreamlike.

Salvador Dalí and the Surrealists: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities by Michael Elsohn Ross 

Salvador Dali by Mike Venezia 

Frida Kahlo: The Artist who Painted Herselfby Margaret Frith 

Who Was Frida Kahlo? by Sarah Fabiny 

Abstract Expressionism

(1940s–1950s)

The Abstract Expressionism movement arose in New York in the 1940’s. Abstract expressionism was the first art movement from the United States to achieve international acclaim.

Pop Art

(1960s)

Pop Art used images of the modern, commercial culture.  It began in the United Kingdom but moved to the United Stated and flourished with artists like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.

Pop Art vs. Abstract Art – Art History Lessons by Baby Professor 

Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol by James Warhola

Uncle Andy’s Cats by James Warhola

Whaam! The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein by Susan Goldman Rubin 

Roy Lichtenstein by Mike Venezia 

Contemporary art…

(1950’s -)

Contemporary art isn’t a specific style but refers to the time period the art was made.  Contemporary art is often referred to as being made since WWII.  It can also mean made by artists that are currently or recently living and making art.

What Is Contemporary Art? A Guide for Kids by Jacky Klein

Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity! by Sarah Suzuk

Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring 

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe 

Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaireby Amy Guglielmo 

Teach art history through children's literature with this huge book list organized according to art movement and free printable art timeline for kids!

Writing about Art…

By now your kiddo have read about so much art.  There’s so much knowledge and inspiration to be gained through the books above. Let’s take that information to the next level by providing a place for your child to write about what they’ve learned.  Check out this printable artist’s biography book and these free printable artist study resources.  Both of these resources are appropriate for use with any artist of any art movement.  They’re just one more tool to use to get your child used to talking and writing about art and expressing their opinion!

Teach art history through children's literature with this huge book list organized according to art movement and free printable art timeline for kids!

If you enjoyed this printable art timeline for kids and art history book list I hope you’ll share it. 

Every single share helps me to bring you more free printable resources and fun projects!

Teach art history through children's literature with this huge book list organized according to art movement and free printable art timeline for kids!

And if you’re looking for a complete art history curriculum check out the Artists and the Elements. It’s designed to connect the elements of art, art history, and fun hands, on art projects for elementary through middle school!

The Artists and the Elements is a complete elementary art curriculum designed to connect art history, the elements of art, and fun, hands on projects!