Books About Alma Thomas

Show your children a world that’s bursting with color in these books about Alma Thomas! She didn’t start her full-time career in art until she was 75 years old, but Alma Thomas’ artwork was worth the wait. Her work was full of color and self-expression. She was often inspired by space exploration and the view out her kitchen window, but no matter the inspiration, her paintings always told captivating stories. These books invite children to learn more about Thomas and her life before she became a formal artist. Plus, they’ll discover the qualities that made her paintings so remarkable.

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Alma Woodsey Thomas: Painter and Educator Charlotte Etinde-Crompton and Samuel Willard Crompton

This in-depth biography covers the life of Alma Thomas. It discusses her childhood in Georgia, her education at Howard University, and her journey to becoming one of the most famous African-American artists of all time. The book also features black-and-white photographs and sidebars that discuss things that were going on in society during Thomas’ life. Upper elementary kids and middle schoolers will enjoy reading this one on their own.

Alma’s Art Roda Ahmed

This book is bursting with color! The story focuses on Thomas’ obsession with color and uses repetition to show little ones how color can magically transform into anything they want. Thomas turns red paint into birds, yellow paint into the sun, and so on. The story finishes with a rainbow on the final page. This book isn’t a biography of Thomas, but it does give a basic introduction to abstract art and brushstrokes. Read it with preschoolers and early elementary kids.

Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas Jeanne Walker Harvey

This picture book is sure to captivate young readers. It feels as if Thomas herself is telling the story of her life! From her childhood in Georgia to her move to Washington D.C., the book tells of Alma’s lifelong passion for art. Kids will see how Thomas’ style blossomed as she got older and learn how her artwork encouraged others. The story also highlights the racial inequalities and discrimination Alma faced. In addition, the final pages offer a side-by-side timeline listing the events of Thomas’ life and important events in U.S. history. The bright illustrations in this book follow Thomas’ style and give the book a happy, energetic feel. Read this one with elementary children.

A Field Guide to Color: A Watercolor Workbook Lisa Solomon

This practice workbook gives kids a chance to experiment with watercolor and understand the methods behind color mixing. They’ll also get an introduction to color theory. Each activity is fun and easy enough for beginners to do on their own. There’s no pressure to recreate the examples in the workbook. Instead, everything is set out as an exercise to help artists learn. The book itself is beautiful, too. It’s printed on high-quality paper and packed with watercolor illustrations. Work through this book alongside kids 8+ or encourage kids 12+ to do the activities on their own.

Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful The Columbus Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art

This book is the accompaniment to Thomas’ traveling exhibition of the same name. The exhibit provided a comprehensive look at Thomas’ abstract paintings as well as some lesser-known pieces like her theatrical designs and sculpture. This book is filled with essays and reproductions of her work. In addition to discussing the details of her artwork, this book covers a variety of other topics: her time in Georgia, her influence at Howard University, her teaching, her gardening, and more. The essays are meant to be read by teens and adults, but art lovers of any age will enjoy paging through the images in this book.

We Are Artists: Women Who Made Their Mark on the World Kari Herbert

This book brings out the stories of 15 female artists. Some are well-known, like Alma Thomas, Frida Kahlo, and Georgia O’Keeffe, but others may be new to your family. Kids will read about female artists from Germany, Japan, Finland, France, and more. Each story is told with descriptive language that highlights the challenges each artist faced and the artist’s influence on the art world. Full-color reproductions are included, too. Read this one aloud to elementary kids.

Abstract Art Anna Moszynska

Kids can go back to the beginning of abstract art with this reference book. The first pages feature a few of the first abstract artists like Hilma af Klint and Wassily Kandinsky. Then the book traces the art style through the following years and highlights several artists along the way. It also introduces kids to abstract art created in countries like Korea, China, and the Middle East. There is plenty of general information in this book that’s written without technical jargon. Plus, there are dozens of full-color reproductions. You can page through this book with kids of any age!

Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color Julie Paschkis

This book is a rainbow palooza! The illustrations are brilliantly vivid and full of color. Each spread gets its own color plus a poem to go with it. As a bonus, there’s also a bit of history about each color. For example, red paint has been made with rust since ancient times, and pink was considered a masculine color until the 1920s. The final pages have a note from the author explaining a bit more about the science of color. Read this one with preschoolers and early elementary kids.

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color Julia Denos

This book follows the story of Swatch, a color catcher. She catches wild colors and makes magic with them! Throughout the book, she’s on the hunt for colors in nature. She’s able to get all the colors into a jar until she meets Yellowest Yellow. This color will not be tamed! Instead, Yellowest Yellow takes Swatch on a wild journey. The illustrations in this book are bold and vibrant. The book has an energetic feel that’s sure to capture the attention of preschoolers and early elementary kids.

Art in the White House William Kloss

In this compilation put together by The White House Historical Association, children can get a peek into the 500-piece art collection held at The White House. They’ll see pieces from Alma Thomas, Charles Bird King, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keeffe, and others. There are essays from art critics as well as essays describing the historical importance of art at The White House. The essays are best for teens and adults, but even younger children will enjoy looking at the art in this book.

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