Salvador Dalí’s art was anything but straightforward. From melting clocks to long-legged animals to mathematical concepts, Dalí’s work was always unique and unexpected. His unconventional personality was the perfect match for his artistic style, too. The kid-friendly books on this list will help you and your children take a closer look at Dalí’s life and the circumstances that led him to become a leader of the Surrealism art movement. We’ve included a few fictional books too. These fun books will help young children grasp the concepts of Surrealism.
This book includes a discussion of Surrealism and provides 21 activity ideas so that kids can create their own Surrealist works. Dalí is the main focus of the book, but kids will also learn a bit about Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, and Frida Kahlo. The author adds in details about historical events like the Spanish Civil War and World War 1 to give a big-picture view of what was going on in the world during Dalí’s life. Full-color reproductions and photographs are included throughout the book. The activities and text are appropriate for kids in middle school and up.
This picture-book biography tells the story of Dalí’s originality and self-assuredness. The text covers his entire life, from childhood to his art career to his absurd acts as a famous artist. As kids hear about Dalí and his interests, they’ll see that he’s just “being himself”—a phrase that’s repeated often throughout the book. The illustrations in this book are a bit whimsical, a nice fit for Dalí’s personality. Read this one with elementary kids.
Introduce your children to Surrealism with this laugh-out-loud book from Eric Carle. It’s inspired by Rene Margritte, a Surrealist painter from Belgium. The illustrations are like miniature Surrealist works. One shows a bird in a fish tank. Another shows a fish in a bird cage. The text has the animals talking and asking why they are in such preposterous situations. It’s a really fun book for kids 3-8 years old.
This series is a favorite of art teachers and parents alike. In this edition, kids will get a front-row seat to Dalí’s life and art. They will laugh at the cartoon illustrations and jokes, but they will be learning about Dalí on every page. The book explains Dalí’s challenging childhood, his unusual personality, and his unique artistic style. Kids will also see full-color reproductions of some of Dalí’s most famous paintings. Read this one alongside your elementary-aged children.
This book covers several types of art: painting, sculpture, photography, music, and more! Children will read about Surrealism as well as prehistoric art, Roman frescoes, Gothic art, Impressionism, Pop Art, and dozens of other art movements. Each page offers several snippets of information along with stunning photographs and reproductions. The book is 300 pages in all, but it’s a great idea to take this one section-by-section. Kids in upper elementary will be able to page through the book and read it on their own, and little ones will enjoy simply looking at all of the different images.
See a true picture of Salvador Dalí in this easy-to-read chapter book. It highlights Dalí’s childhood and his diverse art career, as well as the struggles he experienced. Kids will also get a peek into his personality and social life. The book includes more than 100 black-and-white illustrations. It’s a to-the-point kind of biography, making it perfect for young, independent readers who have an interest in art.
This book presents famous artists like you’ve never seen them before. Alongside standard biographical details, kids will learn about the artists’ favorite foods, personality quirks, painting habits, and other unique facts. Leonardo da Vinci, Mary Cassatt, Henri Matisse, and Salvador Dalí are just a few of the featured artists. Wacky illustrations and cartoon reproductions are included too. Middle school students will enjoy this one.
Jump into Surrealism with this 60-page book written especially for kids. There are activities and lots of detailed information. Instructions for automatic drawing, torn paper collage, decalcomania (turning ink blots into pictures by drawing around them), and Exquisite Corpse (a group drawing game) are included. There’s also kid-friendly information about Surrealists like Dalí, Breton, Tzara, and Ernst. The activities are great for upper elementary and middle school kids, and a few activities can be adapted for younger children.
This fictional storybook weaves together Dalí’s most iconic imagery to create a dream-like story of a little boy named Salvi. There are melting clocks, magic drawers, and long-legged elephants. It’s a fun and entertaining book that doesn’t discuss the ins and outs of Surrealism, but it still provides a great introduction to the style for young children. Read it with early elementary kids.
This is another excellent Surrealism activity book for kids ages 7-12. The first pages describe the style and the rest of the book dives into specific artists. Two pages of biographical information are given for each artist, and then kids are invited to create just like the artist did! The projects are mostly open-ended and require just a few supplies. Dalí, Matta, Ernst, and Magritte are a few of the featured artists.
This collection of short biographies covers 32 Surrealists. Each biography includes a photograph of the artist and a reproduction of one piece of art. The author pays special attention to the fact that Surrealism didn’t have fixed rules. Instead, each artist adopted their own set of variations when painting their dreams and unconscious thoughts. This book is written for adults, so it’s best to read it alongside middle schoolers and high school kids.
In this book, kids will learn about six artists and get hands-on practice with their style. A brief introduction is given for each artist. After that, kids are encouraged to study one of the artist’s most famous pieces and think creatively about it. There are lots of questions to prompt a discussion: How does it look like a dream? What’s the weather like? What is that object floating in the air? There are also a few activities suggested for exploring each artist’s style. Kids can try their hand at drip painting, frottage, sculpture, printmaking, and more. Work through these activities with elementary kids.
In this autobiography, Salvador Dalí discusses a dizzying array of topics: his childhood memories, his inspiration for the Surrealist revolution, and his dreams and visions, just to name a few. He offers entertaining side stories that may be real or may be fictional. The writing is noteworthy, but it may be difficult to follow at times. Read this one section-by-section with teens.
These full-color stickers are reproductions of 16 of Dalí’s masterpieces. Kids will get Persistence of Memory, The Visage of War, Figure at a Window, The Enigma of Desire, Surrealist Poster, and others. Add them to a notebook, a laptop cover, or laminate them to use as cards. It’s a tangible way to interact with Surrealist paintings!