Books About Katsushika Hokusai

Hokusai is most famous for one single piece of art: The Great Wave. Now it’s time to dig deeper into his lifelong art career and his incredible creations! Hokusai began as an apprentice, but quickly developed his own flair for art that introduced Japan to a new world of colorful landscapes, mythical creatures, and the beauty of nature. The kid-friendly books on this list reveal the stories behind Hokusai’s most famous works. Kids will also learn about the rich cultural heritage of Japan. It’s time to turn the page and begin this captivating adventure into the world of Katsushika Hokusai!

The Great Wave: A Children's Book Inspired by Hokusai Veronique Massenot

This story begins with a couple that is childless and sad, but when the man goes out fishing, a baby miraculously rides on the waves and appears in his fishing boat. The baby grows into a young boy, but doesn’t grow any bigger. However, once he returns to the sea for a short time, he understands everything. This is an interesting story for kids in grades 2-5. The Hokusai-inspired artwork is sure to impress the kids too.

Hokusai: He Saw the World in a Wave Susie Hodge

In this book, kids will learn all about Hokusai’s life and the things that inspired him to create such incredible pieces of art. They’ll also learn about how he inspired several other artists that came after him. The content is simple enough for elementary kids to understand. Plus, the colorful illustrations provide a modern-feeling peek into Hokusai’s life. As a bonus, there are several drawing prompts scattered throughout the book. You can read a few pages and then practice one of the drawing prompts with your children.

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave Timothy Clark

Many books about Hokusai focus on The Great Wave, but this book takes a different approach and focuses on the works Hokusai created during the last 30 years of his life. The book shows dozens of Hokusai’s pieces and groups them by theme. There are paintings, woodblock prints, illustrated books, and drawings. A brief analysis is provided for each artwork. There’s also a discussion of Hokusai’s daughter, Eijo, in this book. She became an accomplished artist, too.

Hokusai Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This book provides an in-depth introduction to Hokusai, his art, and the time period in which he lived. There’s quite a bit of text in the book that analyzes Hokusai’s methods and things that were happening in the Edo period. The commentary is insightful and appeals to teens and adults. Readers will also enjoy 50 full-color reproductions of Hokusai’s art.

Hokusai Rhiannon Paget

This book is part of the Basic Art series by German publisher TASCHEN. With just shy of 100 pages, it provides an introduction to Hokusai’s art that’s perfect for middle schoolers and high school students. There are dozens of full-color reproductions from all phases of his career and explanations of each piece.

Hokusai: Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji Amelie Balcou

Bring all 46 prints of Mount Fuji right into your own living room! This book is a stunning accordion-fold collection of each of the original prints plus the ten prints that Hokusai added later. There’s also a booklet that explains each print. The format really gives this one a “wow” factor, especially for kids!

Hokusai: Mountains and Water, Flowers and Birds Matthi Forrer

The first half of this book provides a detailed biography of Hokusai. The second half is filled with 50 full-color reproductions of his work. The pictured artwork is made up of the pieces Hokusai created while he was in his seventies and many feature subjects from nature like waterfalls, birds, fish, and the like. Kids of all ages will enjoy looking at the reproductions and teens can read the biography on their own.

The Usborne Art Treasury Rosie Dickins

This book provides a great balance of information and art projects. In all, it features 22 pieces of art and brief biographies about the creators. Hokusai’s Great Wave is featured as one of the projects, but you’ll also find ideas and information about Monet, Klee, O’Keeffe, and others. The information in this book is quite simplified and will appeal to early elementary kids. The projects are appropriate for all elementary-aged kids.

The Old Man Mad About Drawing Francois Place

In this fictionalized tale, a young boy named Tojiro lives with his aunt and uncle. They’re poor, so Tojiro must sell rice cakes on the street to make money. One day, he meets a man—Hokusai—and becomes his apprentice! The book features several short chapters, each one focused on a part of Hokusai’s life and art. Through the story, the author explains printmaking and the culture of Hokusai’s time. The art combines original watercolors with reproductions of Hokusai’s work. Read this one aloud with kids ages 8-13.

All About Japan: Stories, Songs, Crafts and Games for Kids Williamarie Moore

Kids will learn about Japanese culture, festivals, music, food, and more in this interactive book! Two small children are the guides throughout the book, and they’ll take you to their home, to special celebrations, to famous landmarks, and into Japanese traditions like haiku poems, traditional songs, and much more. Plus, there are crafts, recipes, and games you can try at home. Elementary kids will enjoy this one!

Hokusai: The Man Who Painted a Mountain Deborah Kogan Ray

The illustrated biography covers Hokusai’s life from the age of six until his death. Unlike other books, this one spends a lot of time describing Hokusai’s childhood. The author does a wonderful job of conveying Hokusai’s creativity, passion, and quest for improvement throughout his life. The illustrations add another dimension to the book, too. Read this one aloud to older elementary kids.

Color Your Own Japanese Woodblock Prints Marty Noble

This coloring book gives kids of all ages the chance to put their own unique spin on Japanese woodblock prints. Line drawings of Hokusai are featured, and you’ll also see works from woodblock masters like Kunisada, Hiroshige, Utamaro, Eisen, and Toyokuni. Full-color reproductions of each piece are also included so kids can copy the artists’ colors if they’d like.

Japan Journeys Andreas Marks

In this book, you’ll find a combination of two things: travel and art. It features more than 200 woodblock prints that depict famous Japanese landmarks and cultural icons. Several pieces of Hokusai’s artwork are included. The author has provided a bit of commentary on each piece, but it’s mostly a visual book. Page through this one with kids of any age.

Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680 - 1900 Andreas Marks

This book provides information about the ukiyo-e style and the culture that surrounded it. It’s a visually engaging book with more than 500 full-color prints of artwork created between the 1680s and 1900. It includes brief biographies on 50 ukiyo-e artists. There’s also a bit of information about woodblock print publishers and their methods. This book is a good choice for teens and adults.

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