Favorite Drawing and Lettering Books

I love books, and I love giving books as gifts.  Every year I find myself looking for some good books that encourage my children in some form of art or drawing, especially for those days when we have a little down time.  With all we know about the relaxing effects of coloring and drawing, I like to provide books and pens to encourage my children to explore this hobby.  Some of my favorite Sunday afternoons include sitting around the table together, lettering and sketching and encouraging one another as we create.  Today I’m sharing a few of the books I’ve gifted to my children recently.   All of them have been used enthusiastically in many after-school art sessions, and have improved both their skills and confidence.  So, here are my  favorite drawing and lettering books:

Hand Lettering 101
is a lovely book that focuses on calligraphy-style lettering.  The spiral binding is sturdy and allows the book to lay flat for easy use.  I can’t get over how pretty it is!  My 15 year old daughter loves her copy and often practices her lettering with this book.

Hand Lettering, Creative Alphabets for Any Ocassion
is a fun book that encourages creativity in creating different kinds of letters and fonts.  There are a lot of ideas to explore in this book.  It reminds me of the many hours I spent as a girl trying to find new ways/styles for alphabet letters.  I would have loved to have this book!  We are having a lot of fun with it.

How to Draw Modern Florals
is another gorgeous book.  The beauty of the line drawings are equal to the beauty of the book.  My thirteen year old daughter has been practicing often using this book as a prompt, and you can see her drawings to the right of the book.  I have loved watching her practice and grow in confidence and skill.  I am so glad we added this to our library!

20 Ways to Draw Everything
is a drawing book I purchased on a whim, but which has been the most fun of them all.  There are 135 different themes or objects in the book, and each one is drawn in different ways by the team of authors.  I have been delighted to watch my children explore different ways of sketching based on the drawings in the book.  When they see twenty different sketches of a hedgehog, suddenly there isn’t only one right way to do it, and suddenly their version can be as good as one of the drawings they’re looking at.  This book gives permission to try, and my kids have done exactly that.  This book has kept my youngest daughter busy for hours, and when she gets it out everyone soon wants to draw with her.  (I love her little hedgehogs!)  This is a book that will get my boys sketching with us.

Imagine a Forest
has been my personal favorite.  I am enjoying practicing some folk art, something I’ve never done before.  Dinara Mirtalipova’s illustrations are lovely and I try to practice for just a few minutes every morning.  I would love to someday draw florals like this!  It’s a beautiful book.

I strongly believe in encouraging my children to sketch and draw and try to write beautifully.  I want their practice to be a fun experience for them, so I also invested in a box of Tombow dual brush markers , and what a difference it made!  Using a good instrument makes all the difference when drawing or writing.  The black markers have been instant favorites, and Tombow also makes sets of colors .  These markers, together with a selection of beautiful how-to books, expose my children to a variety of styles and invite them to get drawing and discover/develop their own unique style!

Speaking of unique style, I must also include a favorite chapter book series in this blog post.  These aren’t how-to or art books, but they are the all-time favorite chapter books in my house.  We now own several copies of this series because so many of my children want them in their personal libraries.  One of my daughters has literally read the hardback covers off of her books, they have nourished her soul and been read that much!  My youngest two daughters are currently reading the series and it couldn’t make me happier.

The Penderwicks
are a family of girls whose personalities and adventures are endearing and unforgettable.  We fell in love with this family when the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy was published in 2005, and we’ve eagerly watched for every subsequent book to be released.  I can’t count the number of times I have recommended these books, and I’m so thrilled to share that a final installment of this classic series, The Penderwicks at Last ,  will be released in May and is now available for pre-order!  Lots of celebrating happened in my kitchen the day I shared that news.:)

So there you have it, our current list of favorite drawing and lettering books to encourage this creative hobby in our home.  We use these on quiet afternoons, cozy winter days, summer afternoons, or any day when life slows down.  There are a lot of them out there; do you have any favorites?


The Penderwicks

I confess I may be hopelessly old fashioned in the reading department.  I love wholesome books that celebrate and depict good, traditional childhood.  I’m not a fan of books that thrust all the world’s problems on children, or books that have thinly veiled social agendas.  While I enjoy fantasy, I like our reading to include more real life fiction than anything else.  I like reading about children who have adventures, who learn to solve problems, who learn to get along with one another.

Well, Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks series is fabulous.  We loved the first when it came out a couple of years ago (and won the National Book Award), followed by a second and then a third earlier this year.

I’m not joking when I say these books have been all over the house this summer.  All four of my oldest children are reading them, sometimes sneaking them away from a sibling who wasn’t finished because they couldn’t bear to wait.  I’ve been reading them aloud to the younger children as well, when I can get my hands on one.  I even have a duplicate copy of the first and we still can’t get them to stay in one place!

The Penderwicks are a family of four girls and their father.  Their mother died of cancer shortly after the baby was born.  They have adventures, they have arguments, they serve and love each other, and they all have distinct personalities which make us laugh.  They are a wonderful family to read about.

If you’re looking for the perfect series to give to your children, please consider these books.  We love them, plain and simple.  And we’re hoping she writes more.

My Father’s Dragon

For family read alouds, I’m working my way back through chapter books that I read to my oldest children a few years ago.  Looking at our family dynamics, I realize I’ll get to to this again in a few years for my youngest ones.  The thought makes me almost giddy.  It’s an unexpected blessing for having a large family.  I get to enjoy children’s literature for many more years.  Hooray!

This little series of books is one of my favorites.  Written in 1948, My Father’s Dragon is the beginning of the story.

A boy tells the story of his father Elmer Elevator, (as a boy) stowing away on a ship to sail to the island of Tangerina.  From there he travels to Wild Island in search of a baby dragon he hopes to set free.  The problem is, no one has ever come back alive from Wild Island.  (Until now, that is, because Elmer obviously grew up to have a son of his own who could tell the story.)  Elmer is a proactive hero who manages to find a solution to every problem he encounters in his trusty knapsack.

The books are written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.  The illustrations add a wonderful dimension to the creative story.

The second book, Elmer and the Dragon, was first published in 1950.  It is the story of how Elmer and the Dragon finally made it home (with some adventurous detours on the way).

The third, and last, book in the series chronicles Elmer’s adventure when he is asked to come help the dragon save his family.  It was published in 1951.

These books are treasures.  My children always listen, spellbound.  It’s common for the book to disappear for a day or two because someone quietly took it away to read more on their own.  Last night we finished My Father’s Dragon, and we’re beginning Elmer and the Dragon tonight.

So many of the best children’s books end up going out of print.  So far, this series is an exception.  If you don’t own it, I highly recommend them.


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