Colour Play - Perfect Picture Books

To continue on from my post about exploring colours using art activities, I thought I write this week about books that might provide useful support to such exploration.

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There's a host of picture books that feature colour.  There are the obvious ones like (affiliate link)Mouse Paint which I'd used during my lesson on colour mixing and (affiliate link) Little Blue and Little Yellowwhere children can see the new colours emerge as part of the story line (there's a claymation Little Blue Little Yellow video too which is rather good).


There are books that include colourful language (the right sort that is!), books that encourage children to explore colour and experiment with it, books that order colour and books that use colour to help support the story.

Rainbow books


Good books for exploring the full colour spectrum include (affiliate link) Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. I love her (affiliate link) Eating the Alphabet book too.  Planting a Rainbow is also great one for getting kids outside and involved in planning a garden although in a hot Australian climate not all of these plants are available to us, it still provides a useful prompt but it is one where the rainbow only has six colours.



If like me, you prefer rainbows with seven colours, (affiliate link)Duckie's Rainbow is one that includes all seven.  Our copy was given to my eldest child by her grandparents not long after she was born.  It's a story of a duck making it's way home before the rain.  It's graduated pages make it a good one for younger children particularly.


Another book that features a beautifully-made rainbow is my favourite alphabet books - A is for Artist(affiliate link).  I won't write more about it here but you can visit my original post by clicking here.

Artful colour

Another colour-filled book we've had a long time and loved (so much we're on our third copy!) is the classic (affiliate link)Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  It doesn't have a rainbow-order like the previous books, just bright colourful illustrations by Eric Carle which match the simple, repetitive, predictable text of Bill Martin Jnr.  A perfect read for young children.  My eldest loved this one so much she used to make all the animal sounds as we'd read it.  Her first birthday cake was the gold fish from this book for this reason.

Like all of Eric Carle's books, his style of illustration just asking to be interpreted by young hands - a perfect invitation to finger paint and experiment with different tools.



Another book we recently received as a gift is (affiliate link)WOW! said the Owl by Tim Hopgood.  It's a gorgeously illustrated book about a little owl who decides to stay up all day and she can't believe her eyes!  'Wow!' said the owl as she is amazed by all that she can see during the day until finally it's night-time again.  Its mixed media art work would inspire many to try different printing techniques. 




The Dot(affiliate link) is one a useful story for those children who are not sure that they can create.  It's the story of Vashti who thinks she can't draw until encouraged by her good humoured teacher then she produces art work of every colour before inspiring another child to create. 




Press here(affiliate link) is such fun book.  It's book full of instructions that you must follow before turning each page.  You press the dots, you shake them and they change colour, grow bigger and multiply.  It has some early maths concepts too. It is a book guaranteed to be read over and over again (and possibly fought over if you're reading to more than one child at a time).


Ten Black Dots(affiliate link) is a book I've used as an invitation to create.  The idea comes straight from Mariah Bruehl's book Playful Learning(affiliate link).  The book begins by asking 'what can you do with ten black dots?'  And then you're given plenty of ideas '3 dots can make a snowman's face' or 'Five dots can make buttons on a coat'.  Some blank paper, pencils and some black sticky dots are all you need for children to create their own picture book.



Look! Look! Look!(affiliate link) - I love this book.  There are so many things I love about it - the illustrations, the language used, the ways of looking at art, the lines, the shapes, using art as inspiration and, for the purposes of this post, the colour play include.  



All these things are worked around the story of three mice who live in the same house as a family named the Bigleys.  One day the family receive a postcard with a portrait painting by Robert Peake.  The mice decide to borrow it for a while and so marks the start of some great exploration.  They use a viewing frame parts and find patterns and colours.  Then they recreate the work using line drawings followed by cutting shapes to make a collage and so it goes on.  It is such a good book.



Inspiring colour

The Big Orange Splot(affiliate link) was one of my childhood favourites.  It's about a man, Mr Plumbean, who lives on a neat street where all the houses where the same that is until a seagull flies over his house carrying a bright orange can of paint (no-one knows why) and drops it (no-one knows why).  It's a book full of colour but also about being brave enough to be true to yourself.



Purplicious(affiliate link) is one of a series of books, not all of them do I love if I'm honest, but I'm including it here because like The Big Orange Splot, it encourages children to believe in themselves and their choices.  In this story, Pinkalicious still loves the colour pink but many other students only like black and they belittle her love of pink.  She is miserable until she finds someone else whose favourite colour isn't black either.


Colour for storytelling

Mr. Pine's Purple House(affiliate link) has a similar start to The Big Orange Splot but the illustrations are simpler in just black, white and purple.  Mr Pine also lives on a street (Vine Street) where all the houses are the same until he decides to plant a tree but it looks so good all his neighbours do the same.  He then plants a bush and all his neighbours do the same so he decides to paint his house.  After a few hiccups and a cat and dog chase, the house is painted and his neighbours all think it looks great.  But will they do the same?  A great colour-themed book and a good one to predicting for younger children too.


One for older children that features a range of colours is The Day the Crayons Quit(affiliate link).  A more recent publication, the text follows the complaints of all the different crayons - blue is tired after too much sky colouring, black wants to do more than outlining while green is the odd one out - happy with all it gets to do.  Each crayon has it's own unique voice which makes this entertaining reading and the pictures are very engaging.


Grandpa Green(affiliate link) is another picture book that allows a single colour help tell the story.  It follows the story of one boy from his childhood, through war to peace time and into his old age.  It's a beautifully made story.



Wait! No Paint!(affiliate link) starts as a retelling of the three little pigs who leave home to build their houses of straw, sticks and bricks.  All goes along traditionally until the illustrator runs out of red paint then the pigs turn green, become camouflaged before complaining that they've had enough and they want out!  A funny story for older kids where colour is used again to add to the story line.



With all of these books, the common element is seeing language in print.  Providing print rich environments is so important in early childhood as a means of improving and extending a child's vocabulary.  Seeing these words written down in books is incredibly valuable.  Some recent studies indicate that some older students struggle with written problems in maths simply because they are unfamiliar with seeing mathematical language in print.  For me, colour is useful tool in developing early maths skills along with it's many other uses so immersing a child in books full of colour and colourful words is so very powerful.



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What are some of your favourite colourful books?



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2 comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous collection. I adore it. Because of this I have gone about purchasing a few. I'd completely forgotten about the book 'The Big Orange Splat' and can't wait to share it with my little girl.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Kate. Yes, I love that book. I saw a picture from another childhood favourite on Pinterest a while back that I'd completely forgotten about. 'The Plant Sitter' by the same people who made 'Harry the Dirty Dog'. It's now out of print but managed to get an ex-library copy on eBay.

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