Artful Education: Early Learning
Welcome back to Artful Education - a new series dedicated to showcasing some of the best, visually sumptuous books to help young ones learn and develop new skills.
Our first edition of the series recommended a list of books for students beginning art school. Now we’re catering to slightly younger creative minds, teaching young children basic skills in the most creative way possible. Here are our top picks…
First up, Katja Spitzer’s book series with Flying Eye Books encourages speech development, counting skills, and creative thinking / imagination. Vibrant illustrations feature throughout each of the pocket sized books in the series. Layering turquoise-blue, mustard yellow, and dark orange, Katja toys with an enticing, somewhat naive palette, creating a bright and playful aesthetic.
One of the first editions in the series, How Many Legs? is an incredibly cute counting book. The book starts by teaching the basics of counting from 1 to 10. However, instead of counting fruit or animals, it’s unicorns and robots! The book’s second half challenges young readers to count how many scary monsters and gnomes are on each page. It’s guaranteed to keep the young one’s entertained, and prevent those in charge of the teaching from falling asleep. Other books in the series included At The Beach which takes youngsters on a trip to the seaside to teach them their first words. Shapes Are Fun engages a kids’ basic analytical skills, teaching them to search out shapes in the world. Each book is too bright and fun to ever feel like its just a learning resource.
Seasons by Blexbolex
Seasons by Blexbolex and Gecko Press aims to introduce a whole spectrum of new words into a child’s vocabulary by employing some colourful illustrations. The book is filled with rainbow-coloured, multilayered artworks accompanied by simple words or phrases. Guiding readers through the seasons, words range from objects to emotions.
New Zealand based publisher Gecko Press are dedicated to creating curiously good children’s books. When looking for books to publish, Gecko Press search for those with “good heart and strong character” as well excellent design and illustration. Such criteria might explain why the book contains words you might not find in every “first word related book”. “Snow” and “strawberry” might be quite common, but “abundance” and “deluge” are almost certainly less orthodox. Even if younger readers don’t pick up every word, they – and almost certainly their parents – won’t be able to stop themselves being transfixed, and inspired by the layers of detail in each artwork.
Playing With Food by Louise Lockhart
Of course, encouraging a child’s creativity is just as important as teaching them to read, write, and count. Louise Lockhart’s Playing With Food challenges kids to imagine and dream up impossible ice creams and reimagine fruit and veg. The book includes both full colour artworks and monochrome, unfinished illustrations for readers to complete.
Playing With Food encourages children to think about food itself as well as push the limits of their imagination. The book’s aim is to make children think about how food is grown, prepared, cooked and presented. Tasks range from designing a menu for a café to decorating a dream ice cream sundae.
Playing With Food aims to cater for both fussy eaters and budding chefs…enhancing their dining experience with a healthy dose of illustration.
Laurence King’s Story Box
Our final pick is definitely the most unconventional book. Laurence King’s Story Box series challenges children to dream up their own fairytales. Each Story Box contains a series of double-sided jigsaw pieces featuring a cast of different characters and settings. Readers – or players – are invited to piece together their own fairytales from the puzzle pieces.
Anne Laval illustrated the first box in the series. Anne is a Strasbourg based illustrator who specialises in illustrating children’s books and magazines. Anne’s characters included giant bunnies, witches and a royal family – giving young storytellers plenty of ammunition for a fiery adventure. Seasoned children’s book illustrator Ella Bailey was recently invited to create her own box. Her slightly spookier version invites children to make up their own ghost stories.
The book strikes a playful balance between being just old fun, and educational. Challenging children to conjure up their own tales instead of hearing other people’s, engages their imagination like no storybook can. We can only imagine what wondrous stories will be born out of the box!