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I am so excited today because I get to introduce you to Megan of Chickadee Lit! Megan is all about picture books, a world that I miss so much now that my kids are older. I absolutely love Megan’s Instagram feed because it brings me back to the days of reading on laps and snuggling with a beautiful book.
Today Megan will be introducing us to the five best new picture books of 2016 that inspire young children to be creative. And oh my word, they are so good!
Here is Megan…
“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination.” —bestselling author Sidney Sheldon
Off the top of my head, I could name a few dozen compelling reasons to read with children every day. Reading helps kids form loving bonds, sets them up for academic success, expands their perspectives on the world, and builds their critical thinking skills. In the summer months, reading takes on a special importance. Kids who read over long breaks from school retain more skills and knowledge than those who do not.
Best of all, reading can spark creativity and lead to tons of hands-on fun. Here are five picture books from the first half of 2016 that will inspire kids to paint, doodle, glue, collaborate, photograph, build, collect, dance, and more!
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color, by Julia Denos (Amazon link)
Do you have a Swatch your life? Swatch is a wild girl who tames colors. She collects hues such as “Rumble-Tumble Pink” in jam jars until she meets her match in “Yellowest Yellow.” This special color teaches her to tune in to her collection; colors have voices of their own and aren’t meant to be tamed.
I enjoy reading this story because it is celebration of creativity and living out loud, but the writing is wonderful in itself. Here is my favorite sentence: “Morning came, and there it was, fast fading and fierce, the King of All Yellows, blooming in the sidewalk crack in spite of the shadows.” I love the assonance that Julia Denos creates here, and I love modeling this inventive use of language for my kids.
When my children and I read Swatch, they become deeply still—completely captivated by the story and images—which is unusual considering the illustrations in this book are all about motion. Vivid and richly-textured colors twirl, swirl, and soar along with Swatch, who reaches, leaps, and rides. These grand gestures seem to transport them somehow.
Let’s Play!, by Hervé Tullet (Amazon link)
Hervé Tullet is back in 2016! Have you seen this third interactive book, Let’s Play? A perfect companion to his popular titles Press Here and Mix It Up!, Let’s Play! is a tactile experience that gets readers pushing, shaking, and swirling in a delightful chain of cause-and-effect.
In this book, the main character—an outgoing yellow dot—invites the reader to trace along a continuous line that goes up, down, around, through, over, and every-which-way. My daughter loves all three of Tullet’s books, but this one is especially fun for her because of the dot’s persona; it expresses emotion and breaks the fourth wall to speak to her directly.
This is an all around fun read that can be extended for tons of creative (what else) play.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, Illustrated by Rafael López (Amazon link)
What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood answers this question in the best possible way.
This book tells the story of Mira, a little girl who sees possibility in art and in color. She says to herself, “Hmmm, maybe…,” and begins passing her drawings to neighbors and taping them on buildings. She soon meets a man with a pocket full of paint brushes—a muralist who inspires her whole community to draw, paint, dance, sing, and imagine.
Maybe Something Beautiful is based on the true story of San Diego’s East Village neighborhood. Now a vibrant destination alive with the color in the form of murals, mosaics, and other public artwork, the East Village was gray and drab until husband-and-wife team Rafael and Candice López began the Urban Art Trail organization and inspired their community to create. Rafael López illustrates this book, and his pictures are vibrant and thriving. I think you will especially love his vertical two-page spreads, which are an exciting surprise punctuating important turning points in the book’s plot.
Louise and Andie: The Art of Friendship, by Kelly Light (Amazon link)
Do you want to draw together? Louise and Andie is an adorable book (the follow-up to Kelly Light’s 2014 book Louise Loves Art) all about collaboration. Louise is delighted when a new neighbor named Andie moves in. And—even better—Andie loves art, too. But what happens when two friends have creative differences?
Raising children who have the ability to communicate with others and creatively solve problems is high on my priority list, so this is a book that I’m absolutely loving. It helps that Louise is a fantastic character—a great and relatable role model for itty-bitty creatives. I love her un-ironic enthusiasm and how her signature red glasses pop against the book’s simple color palette. Also lovable are the book’s charming action spreads, which are somewhat reminiscent of Archie comics, and the clever allusions to modern art. (Look for the stack of Campbell’s Soup cans in Andie’s moving boxes…get it…Andie?)
Rain Fish, by Lois Elhert (Amazon link)
“When blue sky turns gray and it rains all day, that’s when rain fish come out and play.
They hide in debris until rain sets them free. Do you see them, too? Or is it just me?”
Lois Elhert, the Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator behind children’s classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, has a new book. Rain Fish features over forty mixed-media fish—collages made from trash and other items Elhert collected over the course of a year. The book’s bright blue pages and elongated shape show off the creations, and the rhyming text is tons of fun to read aloud.
The inventive art shows readers a brand new way to look at litter. Just try and read this book without wanting to create some rain fish of your own.
I would really love to see your projects! Please tag me on Instagram if you make some art based on these or any other picture books.
A little about Megan: “I’m Megan Lingo: veteran teacher, Educational Therapist, and lifelong lover of books. I read to my three kids every day. Just because I love them. And their books. And how quiet they are when I’m reading their books. Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or my brand-new blog Chickadee Lit, where I write about reading for kids and families.”
Ok, I don’t know about you, but I have a deep need to own all of these books immediately. I may not have small children anymore, but I teach little artists! So there’s my excuse to buy more books. Of course, I might also just take a stroll down to the library and check them out for free!
Megan would love to see any and all art projects that you make from these books – or any books. Tag her on Instagram at @chickadee.lit!