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Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art Paperback – October 11, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Filled with great ideas and enthralling art activities, Young at Art introduces parents and caregivers to a fascinating world that Montessori teachers will find wonderfully familiar. Author Susan Striker created the delightfully different Anti-Coloring Book series and now turns her considerable talents to explaining concepts of child development in a manner that all of us can enjoy. She passionately believes that children can use artistic tools and methods as gateways to all forms of learning, from vocabulary building to early math skills and improved dexterity, and cautions parents to rethink the way we look at art materials. Pipe cleaners form wire sculptures far more detailed than their typical role as bug antenna, and toddlers can have a better experience painting with only one or two colors than they would with an entire palette that instantly turns a muddy brown. Including a wide range of group and individual activities for all age ranges (and even songs to sing during cleanup time), this book is a priceless addition to an art-loving family. Jill Lightner

From Library Journal

Art educator Striker, best known for her popular "Anti-Coloring Book" series, here outlines numerous ways to help toddlers experience art. Interestingly, while she stresses thinking "outside of the box," Striker still offers "Ten Cardinal Rules for Teaching Creative Art." These generally conflict with our societal norms (e.g., Rule No. 6 says, "Never give a child coloring books. There is no value for a child completing something another person created"), so they may be hard for some parents to swallow. She also provides suggestions on how to comment encouragingly on children's artwork, but they seem oddly neutral. Rather than saying how pretty a cloud is, for instance, the author proposes remarking on the sketch's color and shape because the child may not have drawn a cloud at all. Striker, too, is opposed to the use of safety scissors, which may make some preschool teachers uncomfortable. This work would have also benefited from more defined and colorful illustrations and photographs (only black-and-white pencil sketches are present). But while the author's progressivism can be off-putting, Young at Art will give larger public libraries and those supporting childhood educators an important alternative to the many "copycat" pattern books on the market. Readers will indeed find value in Striker's comprehensive bibliography of art books and resources for young children, charts for educators about artistic concepts, and ideas on making art connections. Recommended. Lisa Powell Williams, Moline P.L., IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (October 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805066977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805066975
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this book because I am very interested in developing my toddler's artistic and creative abilities. There are some great things about this book. And some very bad things.

The good:
- The descriptions of projects in the book are fantastic. The projects are innovative and really designed to allow children to freely express themselves. The projects made me think about art, and even about the world, differently and helped me to understand how the world looks from a toddler's perspective.
- There is a lot of detail given about why a particular activity is important, or why it should be done a certain way. In general, there's a lot of detail in the book, and the author does a great job suggesting variations on projects or ways to look at materials in a different way.
- The author clearly delineates which supplies you should use and how you should use them. The book is more or less a comprehensive curriculum for preschool art - there are suggested books to read, songs, recommendations on where to get art materials, etc. This would be an awesome resource for a homeschooling family, or for a preschool teacher looking to break away from the traditional way of looking at and teaching art.

Okay. That's what's good about the book. And believe me, there's a lot that's good. However. What's bad about the book would probably turn a lot of people off, and away from using the excellent activities in the book with their child. The bad:

- The author's tone is extremely judgmental, holier-than-thou, snarky, etc. It gets extraordinarily tiresome after the first few pages. The laundry list of things you should NEVER EVER EVER do is miles long and goes on for page after page after page.
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By A Customer on October 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
I wish I had had this book when my child was two. It guides the reader through the mysterious world of children's art. Basically, Striker explains that preschool children should not be "taught" art; rather, they should be allowed to experiment avidly with art materials. When given the opportunity, children use art materials to express themselves and pass through stages of mark-making that are vital to later reading and writing skills. My only complaint about this book is that Striker makes such a strong case against interfering with the natural learning process by, for example, suggesting imagery or otherwise rushing a child into the next stage of development, that it is guilt-inspiring for those of us who made some of these mistakes in the past. However, she gives the reader many concrete suggestions for appropriate art activities so that we can make up for lost time. They include the five basic art techniques: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and collage. The author explains how these mediums can be presented so as to promote the child's own discovery process. This is a very valuable book for parents, care takers, and educators.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're reading reviews of this book, you're probably a parent who is interested in ways to foster your child's creative development. This book has been a revelation for me, and I would highly recommend it to fellow parents of toddlers. For those of us with little to no art education, this book is a complete resource for guiding young children through their early years with the appropriate art materials and encouragement. Covering drawing, painting, sculpture and collage, the author explains the importance of free experimentation with the media, and cautions parents against interfering with the creative process in ways that many of us may mistakenly have considered "helpful". I agree with another reviewer, who states that this information may cause pangs of guilt in those of us who have made mistakes in this area. However, the author indicates that her sequencing of art activities that build on previous experiences can be started later in toddlerhood and still be effective.

I have started to weave many of the ideas from the book into our daily lives, e.g., greater availability/visibility of art materials, starting simply with black and white to focus on the drawing/painting process, encouragement with avoidance of judgemental commentary, and even borrowing and reading library books that support the concept at hand (be it color, or shape). After a couple of weeks, I have already noticed that my 2.5 year old twin boys are more interesting in working with the materials - we have a huge and growing pile of original artwork! Also, I feel much more confident as a parent in this area since I am working with the advice of a well-known art educator.
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Format: Paperback
I just read this book yesterday and it really enlightened me to the reality that even though my daughter is just 20 months, she is starving for self-expression! It makes sense... she can't make noun-verb sentences, has a limited vocabulary, and I'm one of the only people who understands her struggled attempts at communication. So that's why she's been coloring all over the wallpaper!
This book was great for me since I am artistically illiterate. I have had almost NO art education, and I don't know the first thing about how to teach ANYTHING to ANYONE. This book has simple, easy steps that I can follow... dumb things that I wouldn't know unless someone told me, like, Give your child one crayon at a time so she doesn't get overwhelmed.
The other thing I liked about this book is that the author is sensitive to the reality that many of us may not have a large budget to spend on art supplies. I went to the craft store and bought everything I think I need to get started... crayons, paint, brushes, play-doh, I even splurged and got the 80-weight paper like Striker suggested... and spent less than EIGHTEEN DOLLARS!!
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