Here we list children’s books about women artists—from the distant past to the present—published from around the time of Art Herstory’s launch. Each description is drawn from the blurb on the publisher’s website. If you know of other titles that should be on this list, please let us know by comment or by email (Erika@artherstory.net).
Books about multiple artists
Women Artists A to Z, by Melanie LaBarge, illustrated by Caroline Corrigan. Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2020.
this lushly illustrated alphabet picture book presents both famous and underrepresented women in the fine arts from a variety of genres: painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and more. Each spread features a simple line of text encapsulating the creator’s iconic work in one word, such as “D is for Dots” (Yayoi Kusama) and “S is for Spider” (Louise Bourgeois), followed by slightly longer text about the artist for older readers who would like to know more. Backmatter includes extended biographies and discussion questions for budding creatives and trailblazers. Ages 3–7.
Heroic Women of the Art World, by Eugene H. Pool. Publisher: Tumblehome Books, 2019.
Other than a scattered few, women have not often been portrayed among the world’s great artists, especially in books for young readers. This book begins to correct the omission, with portraits of fifteen daring women from the Renaissance to the present. Artists covered include Sofonisba Anguissola, Artemisia Gentileschi, Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Rosa Bonheur, Augusta Savage, Frida Kahlo, Annie Leibovitz, Zaha Hadid, and more. Their stories will inspire girls who want to find a place in the arts and girls who simply seek the courage to make their own voices heard in the world. Age 12 and up, grade 7 and up.
We are Artists: Women who Made their Mark on the World, by Kari Herbert. Publisher: Thames and Hudson, 2019.
Richly illustrated, We Are Artists celebrates the life and work of fifteen female artists from around the globe and the distinctive mark they made on art. The book places the spotlight on women painters, sculptors, printmakers, illustrators, designers, and craftswomen who created monumental artwork, often against daunting odds. It includes reproductions of modern and contemporary artwork by Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alma Thomas, and Kenojuak Ashevak, to name a few. Through their personal stories, readers will learn about the art movements each artist worked in and the influence they exerted on both the art world and society as a whole. No age range specified.
Women in Art: 50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World, by Rachel Ignotofsky. Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2019.
A richly illustrated book, We Are Artists celebrates the life and work of fifteen female artists from around the globe and the distinctive mark they made on art. Presented as a collection of exciting biographical stories, each section reveals how the artist’s unique approach and perspective provided art and society with a new way of seeing things. The book places the spotlight on women painters, sculptors, printmakers, illustrators, designers, and craftswomen who created monumental artwork, often against daunting odds. The book includes reproductions of modern and contemporary artwork by Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alma Thomas, and Kenojuak Ashevak, to name a few. Through their personal stories, readers will learn about the art movements each artist worked in and the influence they exerted on both the art world and society as a whole. Middle school, teen and young adult.
Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717)
Maria Merian’s Butterflies Coloring Book: Drawings from the Royal Collection, by Arcturus Publishing, 2021.
An influential seventeenth-century insect zoologist and illustrator, Maria Merian’s work in her field, including new discoveries, was suppressed by the male-dominated field she worked in. During a research sailing trip from the Netherlands to South American with her daughter, Merian studied and sketched the insects and creatures living in the jungles of what is now known as Suriname. Despite being labelled as scientific drawings, the work she produced was undoubtedly wonderfully created works of art. This coloring book supplies a collection of Merian’s flora and butterfly illustrations in black and white line drawings, provided by the Royal Collection Trust. For the young at heart.
Maria Sibylla Merian – Artist, Scientist, Adventurer, by Sarah B. Pomeroy and Jeyaraney Kathirithamby. Publisher: Getty Publications, 2018.
Science and art combine in this captivating, lushly illustrated biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), one of the world’s first entomologists, who was also a botanist, naturalist, and celebrated artist. Years after her death, Merian’s accurate and beautiful illustrations were used by scientists, including Carl Linnaeus, to classify species, and today her prints and paintings are prized by museums around the world. More than a dozen species of plants and animals are named in her honor. This book will enchant budding scientists and artists alike. Readers will be inspired by Merian’s talent, curiosity, and grit and will be swept up by the story of her life, which was adventurous even by today’s standards. Ages 10 and up.
Anna Atkins (1799–1871)
The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs, by Fiona Robinson. Publisher: Abram Books, 2019.
After losing her mother very early in life, Anna Atkins (1799–1871) was raised by her loving father. He gave her a scientific education, which was highly unusual for women and girls in the early 19th century. Fascinated with the plant life around her, Anna became a botanist. She recorded all her findings in detailed illustrations and engravings, until the invention of cyanotype photography in 1842. Anna used this new technology in order to catalogue plant specimens—a true marriage of science and art. In 1843, Anna published the book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions with handwritten text and cyanotype photographs. It is considered the first book of photographs ever published. Weaving together histories of women, science, and art, The Bluest of Blues will inspire young readers to embark on their own journeys of discovery and creativity. No age range specified.
Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899)
No Horses in the House! The Audacious Life of Artist Rosa Bonheur, by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Anna Bron. Publisher: Orca Book Publishers, 2023.
Rosa Bonheur loved to draw animals. She was good at it too! Unfortunately, in nineteenth-century France, girls were not allowed to be artists. But Rosa didn’t let that stop her. In this fictionalized account of her early life in Paris, Rosa studies art at home, bringing a menagerie of animals into the apartment to study up close. When she is kicked out of the horse market for sneaking in wearing boys clothing, Rosa must think creatively to challenge the rules in pursuit of her dream of becoming a world-class realist painter and artist. Age: Pre-school.
A Storm of Horses: The Story of Artist Rosa Bonheur, by Ruth Sanderson. Publisher: Crocodile Books, 2022; distributed by Simon & Schuster.
In an ode to underrepresented women everywhere, award-winning illustrator Ruth Sanderson tells the story of French artist Rosa Bonheur in this picture book biography. Rosa Bonheur was born in 1822 in France at a time when young women had limited options beyond being a wife and mother. But Rosa wouldn’t stand for this. She wore pants, rode horses astride, and often broke society’s rules. Defying convention, Rosa went on to become the most celebrated artist of her time; art collectors, museums, and galleries around the world purchased her paintings. This inspiring picture book about Rosa Bonheur, the most famous female painter of her century, is published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the artist’s birth. Ages 6–12.
Marianne North (1830–1890)
Fearless World Traveler: Adventures of Marianne North, Botanical Artist, by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Publisher: Holiday House, 2021.
Self-taught artist and scientist Marianne North (1830–1890) subverted Victorian gender roles and advanced the field of botanical illustration. Her technique of painting specimens in their natural environment was groundbreaking. The legendary Charles Darwin was among her many supporters. In this book, Laurie Lawlor deftly chronicles North’s life, from her restrictive childhood to her wild world travels, to the opening of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens, to her death in 1890. Becca Stadtlander’s award-winning lush, verdant artwork pairs wonderfully with the natural themes. Ages 6–9.
Mary Cassatt (1844–1926)
Meet Mary Cassatt, author given as Read With You Center for Excellence in STEAM Education. Publisher: Read With You, 2022.
Art is everywhere. Whether you are sitting in a library or walking around the city, you will find examples of art all over. But how do you know when something is art? How is one piece different from the next? In Meet Mary Cassatt, you will meet someone who saw art in the ordinary. Who better to teach you the beauty of a sitting child or a mother holding her baby than the woman who painted them for decades? Can you learn to see as she did? Then, you can observe the women in your life and make your own light-filled portraits! No age range specified.
Edmonia Lewis (1844–1907)
Seen: Edmonia Lewis, by Jasmine Walls, illustrated by Bex Glendining. Publisher: BOOM! Box, 2020; distributed by Simon & Schuster.
“Sometimes the times were dark and the outlook was lonesome, but where there is a will, there is a way. I pitched in and dug at my work until now I am where I am.” Meet Edmonia Lewis, the woman who changed America during the Civil War by becoming the first sculptor of African-American and Native American heritage to earn international acclaim. Jasmine Walls and Bex Glendining present the true story of courage, determination and perseverance through one of America’s most violent eras to create true beauty that still reverberates today. Grades 5–8.
Laura Wheeler Waring (1887–1948)
Beautiful Shades of Brown: The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring, by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Felicia Marshall. Publisher: Creston Books, 2020.
Growing up in the late nineteenth century, Laura Wheeler Waring didn’t see any artists who looked like her. She didn’t see any paintings of people who looked like her, either. So when she was offered a commission to paint portraits of accomplished African Americans, she jumped at the chance. Writers, singers, political activists, and thinkers all posed for her. Now her portraits hang in Washington, DC’s National Portrait Gallery, where children of all races can admire the beautiful shades of brown she captured. Read the review in School Library Journal. Ages 7–11.
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986)
Who Was Georgia O’Keeffe? by Sarah Fabiny and Who HQ, illustrated by Dede Putra. Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2022.
Georgia O’Keeffe is famously known for her colorful, large paintings of flowers, but this artist’s portfolio expands far beyond Jack-in-the-pulpits. In this book, young readers will learn about O’Keeffe’s childhood in Wisconsin and her years as a talented art school teacher. Her years as an artist in both New York and New Mexico, two areas that are heavily represented in her artwork, reveal O’Keeffe’s influences. Explore the adventures that inspired O’Keeffe’s paintings of skyscrapers, barns, skulls, flowers, and made her into an American art icon of the twentieth century. Ages 8–12.
Meet the Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe, by Marina Muun. Publisher: Tate, 2021.
Come and meet Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the twentieth century’s most significant American artists. She transformed the way we look at things through her largescale paintings of flowers, cityscapes, desert scenes, bone compositions, and abstract arrangements. Explore O’Keeffe’s unique perspective as you draw, paint, and play your way through activities based on her artwork, and discover how to use art to express your own view of the world. Part of Tate’s newly revised and expanded Meet the Artist series of activity books, Meet Georgia O’Keeffe is bursting with inspiring activities based on some of the artist’s key pieces, which are reproduced in full color. Ages 5–7.
What the Artist Saw: Georgia O’Keeffe, by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Josy Bloggs. Publisher: The Met / DK Children, 2021.
In What the Artist Saw: Georgia O’Keeffe, meet famous American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Step into her life and learn what led her to look closely at nature and paint her iconic paintings of flowers and bones. See the vast New Mexico landscapes that inspired her work. This volume is published in an illustrated series of books to keep and collect, created in full collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No age range specified.
Georgia O’Keeffe, by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Erica Salcedo. Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Quarto Books, 2019.
As a child, little Georgia viewed the world differently from other people. She roamed outdoors with her sketch book, while other girls played. As an adult, she painted all day. From New York City to New Mexico, she was influenced by the landscapes of her environment. As her paintings became more popular, she became one of the most succesful artists of her generation, and an inspiring role model for young girls everywhere who wanted to express themselves creatively. The book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the artist’s life. Ages 4 and up.
Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891–1978)
Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Loveis Wise. Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, 2022.
In this celebration of art and the power of imagination, Jeanne Walker Harvey and Loveis Wise tell the incredible true story of Alma Thomas, the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York City and to have her work chosen for the White House collection. With her bold and vibrant abstract paintings, Alma set the world ablaze with color. Ablaze with Color includes extensive backmatter with photos, an author’s and illustrator’s note, a timeline, and a list of sources and resources, which will be a great tool for parents, educators, and librarians. Ages 4–8.
Alma’s Art, by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Anita Cheung. Publisher: Hightree Publishing, 2022.
Alma’s Art is inspired by African American painter Alma Woodsey Thomas, the treasured expressionist who made her national debut in the art world at age 80. Alma kept beauty and happiness at the forefront of her painting technique, studying how light and color worked together in the shapes and patterns on her canvases. Alma’s Art is an important book to paint young minds with broad strokes that celebrate the colors of our world. Ages 2–5.
Frida Kahlo (1907–1954)
Frida Kahlo, author given as Inspired Inner Genius, illustrated by Irina Katsimon and Nikita Sacakusumah. Publisher: IIG, 2022.
Frida Kahlo’s life was far from the fairytale we often envision incredible people to lead. Instead, her whole life was riddled with suffering, heartbreak, and disease. But despite all of the pain and tragedy that befell her, Frida Kahlo chose to endure. Expressing herself through the art to which she devoted her life, Frida Kahlo’s biography is a testament to the best of human strength and resilience. Not only that, her life poetically paints the picture of how there is beauty even in pain and suffering. Ages 5–10.
Great Lives in Graphics: Frida Kahlo, no author or illustrator given. Publisher: Button Books, 2021.
You may already know that Frida Kahlo was an artist, but did you know she lived in a bright blue house? Or that she owned two pet spider monkeys? This graphic retelling of Frida’s story gives children a colorful snapshot of her life and the world she grew up in, while educating them on everything from the Mexican revolution to the importance of self-belief. Ages 8–12.
Frida Kahlo: A Kid’s Book About Expressing Yourself Through Art, by Mary Nhin, illustrated by Yuliia Zolotova. Publisher: Grow Grit Press, 2021.
Frida Kahlo is involved in a tragic accident. Instead of letting it bring her down, she finds escape through a creative outlet. In the new Mini Movers and Shakers children’s book series comes a cast of characters who have failed, yet succeeded despite overwhelming obstacles. Find out what happens in this kid’s book about expressing yourself through art. Ages baby–12.
I am Frida Kahlo, by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2021.
This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great–the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of an icon in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers and that always includes the hero’s childhood influences. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos. This book features Frida Kahlo, the renowned Mexican painter and activist. After surviving a bus crash, she made her mark in art history for her unique way of looking at the world and integrating her own image and life into her paintings. Ages 5–9.
My Little Golden Book About Frida Kahlo, by Silvia Lopez, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2021.
Help your little one dream big with a Little Golden Book biography all about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This book captures the essence of Frida Kahlo for the youngest readers. From overcoming illness, to being one of only a handful of girls at her school in Mexico, to having her paintings hanging in museums, this is an inspiring read for future trailblazers and their parents. Features informative text and colorful illustrations inspired by Frida’s own artwork. Ages 2–5.
The Story of Frida Kahlo: A Biography Book for New Readers, by Susan B. Katz. Publisher: Rockridge Press, 2020.
Discover the life of Frida Kahlo―a story about strength, creativity, and never giving up. Frida Kahlo is one of the most celebrated artists in the world, but before she made history with her beautiful paintings and brave spirit, she went through a life-changing accident that would have made many people want to give up. This Frida Kahlo children’s book shows you how she fought to overcome setbacks and follow her passion to create amazing artwork and make the world a more colorful place. Ages 6–9.
Portrait of an Artist: Frida Kahlo, by Lucy Brownridge, illustrated by Sandra Dieckmann. Publisher: Quarto Books, 2019.
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter; today, she is one of the world’s favorite artists. As a child, she was badly affected by polio, and later suffered a terrible accident that left her disabled and in pain. Shortly after this accident, Kahlo took up painting, and through her surreal, symbolic self portraits described the pain she suffered, as well as the treatment of women, and her sadness at not being able to have a child. This book tells the story of Frida Kahlo’s life through her own artworks, and shows how she came to create some of the most famous paintings in the world. Learn about her difficult childhood, her love affair with fellow painter Diego Rivera, and the lasting impact her surreal work had on the history of art in this book that brings her life to work. No age range specified.
Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010)
Louise Bourgeois, by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia. Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Quarto Books, 2020.
When Louise Bourgeois was a little girl, her mother died. She learned to express her feelings through drawing—and when she grew up, she turned these drawings into sculpture, confronting her own fears through art. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the artist’s life. Ages 4 and up.
What the Artist Saw: Louise Bourgeois, by Amy Guglielmo, illustrated by Katy Knapp. Publisher: The Met / DK Children, 2022.
In What the Artist Saw: Louise Bourgeois, meet famous French American painter, printmaker, and sculptor Louise Bourgeois. Step into her life and learn what led her to explore her fears and emotions through her art. Learn all about her family and what inspired her to create her large spider sculptures. Volumes in the “What the Artist Saw” series are created in full collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No age range specified.
Leonora Carrington (1917–2011)
Out of this World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington, by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Amanda Hall. Publisher: HarperCollins, 2019.
Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to be an artist. From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst, to Mexico where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century. Out of This World is the powerful, stunningly told story of Leonora Carrington, a girl who made art out of her imagination and created some of the most enigmatic and startling works of the last eighty years. No age range specified.
Ruth Asawa (1926–2013)
A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa, by Andrea D’Aquino. Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press, 2019.
Ruth Asawa (1926–2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D’Aquino brings Asawa’s creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators. No age range specified.
Ruth Asawa: A Sculpting Life, by Joan Schoettler, illustrated by Traci Van Wagoner. Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, 2018.
From the Japanese-American internment camps to the creation of the San Francisco School of the Arts, Ruth Asawa’s life journey is one filled with challenges and obstacles turned into triumphs through perseverance and a unique vision. Known as the “Fountain Lady” of San Francisco due to the many fountains she designed, Asawa experimented with unconventional mediums, using lines, space, and wire to create dimensional sculptures. Author Joan Schoettler spoke with Asawa’s daughter, viewed countless pieces of art, and gathered information from around the country to create this profile of this extraordinary woman, teacher, and artist. Illustrator Traci Van Wagoner’s dynamic depictions of Asawa and her life are sure to fascinate and inspire young readers. Ages 3–8.
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
You Should Meet Yayoi Kusama, by May Nakamura, illustrated by Alexandra Badiu. Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2021.
When Yayoi Kusama was a little girl, she told her parents she wanted to be an artist. Her parents forbade her and tore up her drawings. But that didn’t stop her. When she couldn’t afford art supplies, she used old paper sacks and mud to create her art. Eventually, she convinced her parents to let her go to art school and study painting. In 2006, she became the first Japanese woman to receive the Praemium Imperiale, one of the highest honors given by the Japanese imperial family. Ten years later, she received the Order of Culture. Today, she is one of the most famous artists in the world. This book introduces her to young readers. Ages 6–8.
Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn’t Sorry, by Fausto Gilberti. Publisher: Phaidon (2020).
Yayoi Kusama covers her paintings in hundreds and hundreds of dots. Her dots come off her canvases to cover dresses, tables, walls, and more! She creates mirrored rooms and fills them with glittering balls and lights, until there is an infinity of dots—just like in her paintings. Fausto Gilberti brings movement, life, and whimsy to the true life story of one of the most important contemporary Japanese artists of our time—an artist who is still dazzling museum- and gallery-goers around the globe today. Ages 4–7.
Faith Ringgold (b. 1930)
Faith Ringgold: Narrating the World in Pattern and Color, by Sharna Jackson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins. Publisher: The Met / DK Children, 2021.
In What the Artist Saw: Faith Ringgold, meet inspiring American activist Faith Ringgold. Step into her life and learn what led her to mix different media and craft powerful stories into quilts. Travel with her from Harlem, New York, to Europe, Ghana, and Nigeria. Volumes in the “What the Artist Saw” series are created in full collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No age range specified.
Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942)
Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña. Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018.
When tragedy strikes Graciela Iturbide as a young mother, she turns to photography for solace and understanding. From then on Graciela embarks on a photographic journey that takes her throughout her native Mexico, from the Sonoran Desert to Juchitán to Frida Kahlo’s bathroom, to the United States, India, and beyond. Photographic is a symbolic, poetic, and deeply personal graphic biography of this iconic photographer. Graciela’s journey will excite young readers and budding photographers who will be inspired by her resolve, talent, and curiosity. No age range specified.
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