You know all those fabulous design-centered coloring books out there? We have a stack of them, and I’m a big fan. But lately I’ve been wanting to stock our library with workbooks and journals that go beyond coloring and include specific activities that would help budding artists and writers. I like keeping activity books like this in the home office, in the Sunday bag (for when the kids get bored at church), and for rainy day playdates.
Happily, there are tons of excellent options out there. Here are seven (plus a bonus pick) that I think your kids (or you) might enjoy.
1. Art Play. By Marion Deuchars. This is such a good one! It’s part sketchbook, part coloring book, part art lesson, part inspiration. It’s a big, thick volume with lots of prompts and exercises. It doesn’t come out till next month, but you can pre-order it now.
2. Me: A Compendium. By Wee Society. Oh my. I ADORE fill in the blank journals. Have you ever tried one? They are perfect for kids — especially kids that seem resistant to the idea of keeping a journal. They’re fun and fast and they are an instant treasure. When I was a child, this Dr. Suess one was a hot ticket, and I still think it’s awesome. But I’m really digging the visuals on Wee Society version. It’s gorgeous.
3. Creative Writing — A Journal With Art to Kickstart Your Writing. By Eva Glettner. Lined pages with excellent writing prompts, next to inspiring images. What a great idea!
4. Pattern Studio — A Creative Workbook for Sketching Unique Repeats. By Shayna Kulik. I love this one for me. I’ve longed to try my hand at textile or surface design for many, many years. This is a great workbook of drawing prompts to get you on your way to creating original patterns.
5. Words. By Christoph Neimann. Picture all the sight words (the ones your kids memorize as they learn to read) paired with a word renowned artist. I can’t quite put my finger on why this book is so appealing. It’s very simple, it’s small, but thick like a text book. It’s quite delightful. I’m thinking of it as the simplest of writing prompts (though is doesn’t pretend to be positioned that way).
6. Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories — A Children’s History of Art. By Michael Bird with illustrations by Kate Evans. You’ll definitely want this in your home library. It’s not a workbook or journal, but I felt like it fits in well with these others. It’s a big volume, full of accessible stories about art. Go look at some of the sample pages — it’s really a lovely book.
7. Draw Like An Artist — A Self-Portrait Sketchbook. By Patricia Geis. A straightforward idea, the book features 18 different famous self-portraits with a “canvas” next to each one so you can try your own hand at the featured style.
Bonus! 8. Faces Book Journal. By Sukie. This is not revolutionary, but it’s an adorable gift. And it’s currently only $3.84, so it’s a bargain too. It’s basically a blank book. But instead of empty pages, or lined pages, each sheet of paper has face. It’s terrific!
How about you? Do you have any artists or writers in the making at your house? Journal keepers? Sketchbook fillers? What would you add to this list?