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thumbnail Picture Books about Art & Community

by Valerie Morris on September 5, 2019
Tags: nonfiction (41), picture books (25), art (2), community (2)

Art is the self-expression of feelings, a vision, beauty, or a stance.  Art can also unite communities when that art is placed in public view or brings the neighborhood together to create. This is a collection of picture books about inspired individuals and communities that used art as a way to improve their neighborhoods, share, and make a statement. These books are a great way to inspire children to create art of their own and have a voice.

Hey, Wall – Susan Verde, illustr. by John Parra  (XP H ART VERD)

This is the story of the vision of one boy who sees that an old, blank wall in his neighborhood can become a beautiful work of art. But he can’t do it alone, so he brings his community together to help create a mural that everyone can enjoy and celebrate. The author and the illustrator were inspired by the public art in their communities growing up in New York City and Los Angeles.


In Mary’s Garden – Tina Kugler (XP L PEOP KUGL)

Local artist, Mary Nohl, was happiest when she was creating and building things. She used whatever common objects she found to create art from small scale to large scale. Mary proudly displayed her artistic creations in her garden for everyone to enjoy and be inspired to create.


Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing – Kay Haring, illustr. by Robert Neubecker (XP L PEOP HARI)

Keith Haring could not, would not stop drawing! He wanted to share his drawings and paintings with everyone in New York City. He would create art on sidewalks that would wash away with the rain and paintings on walls for more lasting beauty. “I draw all the time because there are many spaces to fill. I give my drawings away to help make the world a better place. I draw everywhere because EVERYONE needs art!!”


Maybe Something Beautiful – Isabel F. Campoy, illustr. by Rafael Lopez (XP H ART CAMP)

Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, one girl’s dream to add color to her gray, urban world inspired a neighborhood to create and transform. First, Mira would share her colorful drawings with the people in her neighborhood but it wasn’t enough. Then, she saw an artist with paintbrushes looking at the wall of a building and had a big idea!


Radiant Child: the Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat – Javaka Steptoe (XP C CALD STEP)

Radiant Child is the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat who spent his entire, short-lived life creating art in New York City. He created public murals with spray paint and art collages that would hang in art galleries and museums. Basquiat shared his vision with the world and showed the public that art doesn’t have to be neat or clean or inside the lines and yet can still be beautiful.


Say Something – Peter H. Reynolds (XP K COMM REYN)

This empowering book inspires young people to say something with their words or their art. As long as it is said or done from the heart, what you say doesn’t have to be perfect. “You can say something in so many ways. With words, with action, with creativity.”