What We’re Reading: Stocking the Classroom Library

Katy Thompson, Children’s Education Associate

Following the renovation of the James S. and John L. Knight Learning Center, the Education team at FMWoA delved deep into the online shelves for suitable art books to include in our “Reading” area. In past blog posts, we’ve spotlighted some of our Volunteer Docents reading these books to you, giving you a chance to determine if they fit your own classroom, or home, library. With the start of the school year in swing and many students returning to the classroom, we’re also cleaning out our shelves, finding old favorites, and adding new friends. Here, we’ve chosen five we think you’ll like, too!

The Museum by Susan Verde & Art by Peter H. Reynolds (Abrams)

Now, we may be biased because we are a museum, but we LOVE this book. This story takes us on a tour through the halls of an art museum alongside a young girl as she encounters various works of art. Her reactions to each work range from physical (standing on her “tippy-toes”) to emotional (she collapses into a “fit of giggles”) to intellectual. The narrative, beautifully illustrated to draw attention to some well-known (and not as well-known) works of art, explores how art makes us feel through this single girl’s reactions to both figurative and abstract artworks. The story ends with her realization that an empty canvas is all hers to create on, bringing her thoughts and feelings from her museum trip to bear on her own work.

Preview it with our FWMoA Docent Susan:

Glassigator by Dan Dailey and Allison Dailey (Toledo Musum of Art)

Published through the Toledo Museum of Art, who held the first glassblowing demonstrations with Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino in 1962, Glassigator walks the reader through the process and technique of blowing glass. Longer than the other books in this collection, the reader is taken along as Mr. Gaffer, Libbey’s dad, blows a glass alligator. Learning the terminology as they go, the importance of the team and collaboration in creating glass is illustrated; a reminder to students that art is not always a solo effort. A fun and informative introduction to the process and technique of blowing glass, the purchase of this book was imperative as FWMoA continues to grow its Contemporary Studio Glass collection.

Look! Look! Look! at Sculpture by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace & Linda K. Friedlaender (Marshall Cavendish)

Three tiny mice celebrate sculpture! Kiki, Kat, and Alexander visit the art museum to see all different types of sculptures: assemblage, bust, statue, and more! They learn how to investigate the sculpture by looking from all angles, moving around the work from back, front, and sides. The mice discover how to make 3D drawings and sketches, then models out of clay, explicating the artistic process for the reader. As FWMoA just unveiled our new sculpture by Dale Enochs (dedication ceremony is this coming Thursday, August 26th from 5pm-7pm), this is a perfect addition to familiarizing our younger visitors with 3D works. Also included is an art activity to create paper SHAPE sculptures!

Preview it with FWMoA Docent Michael:

Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt by Patricia C. McKissack & Art by Cozbi A. Cabrera (Dragonfly Books)

Gee’s Bend, a rural community on the curve of the Alabama River in Wilcox County, Alabama, is the setting for this story. Predominantly African American, the story recognizes the importance of quilting in the community and the role it plays in the family and society. Less a structured narrative and written using individual poems, it tells the history of the place and people as well as the social and political changes that occurred around them, culminating in their “discovery”. Today, the Gee’s Bend quilters are recognized for their inventive use of materials and patterns, and many are held in museum collections! Not only an excellent resource for African American history and practices in America, it is also a tool to discuss fine versus functional art and how the definition of art has transformed over time and place.

Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler by Elizabeth Brown & Art by Aimee Sicuro (Abrams)

Beautifully illustrated, the story of Helen Frankenthaler depicts her life using the vivid colors she preferred in her own art. The story traces her beginnings as a young child drawing and visiting art museums to her choice to make her living as an artist, culminating in the discovery of her signature “soak stain” style. Along the way we meet her other artist friends, understand the criticisms she faced from the art world, and see the attitude and drive she possessed that ultimately ensured her success. Included is a brief biography, with photos, of the artist and an art activity using her poured paint/soak stain technique.

Preview it with Children’s Education Associate Katy Thompson:

If you have any art books you absolutely love and think the museum should add to its library, let us know in the comments on the blog or on social media!

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