I taught elementary school for 16 years, and one of the best parts of my day was reading aloud to children. The time my students and I spent together engaged in picture books strengthened our classroom community in ways I cannot fully describe. We immersed ourselves in stories that challenged and transformed our way of thinking, introduced us to rich language and artful illustrations, and inspired us to explore our own creativity.
Fast forward to my time teaching at the art studio, and it should be of surprise that my favorite class was one we created for preschoolers called Book Art.
Book Art was a chance to combine my personal love of children's literature with the pure joy and engagement of process art. We read, analyzed, and talked about books, but more importantly we provided a creative outlet for children that sparked their curiosity and allowed them to freely respond to literature through art. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.
The books I selected for Book Art were chosen carefully and thoughtfully, not only for their story but for their meaningful themes and high-quality illustrations. If you know me, you know that when it comes to picture books I definitely have a "type" as well as a handful of favorite illustrators like Jon Klassen, Britta Teckentrup, Sandra Dieckmann, Erin E. Stead, and Oliver Jeffers. I'm also a sucker for small independent book stores (in which I can spend hours and hours just sitting on the floor reading) and titles that aren't well known by the masses.
But regardless of the book I chose, the creative materials I set out invited children to explore the story, theme, or illustrations in an open-ended way - this is the beauty of process art! Occasionally there was an end product in mind (during one class we designed treehouses and built them out of found materials), but the children were always encouraged to arrive at the end product in their own way. We valued process over product. Each supply was chosen with intention (whether it be for color, process, form, or texture) and we arranged the materials in a way that naturally invited children to create.
And now here we are. Offering you a chance to explore the magic at home with our Wonderment Book Art series.
Our first box in the series features explorations around this gorgeous debut picture book by Kasya Denisevich. Neighbors is a timely story about existing in a world of strangers and the desire for friendship and human connection.
The Neighbor Book Art box includes:
Neighbors by Kasya Denisevich
Wonderment Inspiration Guide
Mixed Media Paper (15 pieces)
Pastel Paper, Gray Tones (6 pieces)
Charcoal Pencils (pack of 3) and Kneaded Eraser
White Chalk Marker
Oil Pastels (red, green, yellow)
Black Liquid Watercolor
Small Dish for Watercolor
Digital Resources, featuring videos, links, and ideas to push the explorations further.
By integrating process art with children's literature, you can help build children's knowledge of the world as well as boost critical thinking, comprehension, language, and communication skills - all while providing a creative outlet for children to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. We truly hope you enjoy our Neighbor Book Art box as much as we do.