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Growing Reader



Dare to Doodle: 10 Unconventional Drawing Books for Kids

by Denise Schipani

Background credit: Faya Francevna/Shutterstock

My father, who filled sketchbooks with WWII planes and ships as a child and is now a watercolorist, tried his darnedest to teach me things like perspective and shading … but I just didn’t get it. If there’s an art gene, it skipped over me and landed hard on my younger son, who compulsively doodles — stick figures with personality, robots, monsters — on just about every piece of paper he finds, from math homework to store receipts.

Maybe it’s the graphic novels he’s partial to (chiefly the Wimpy Kid books) or his discovery a few years back of Calvin & Hobbes, but he’s decided he’ll be a cartoonist and has begun filling his own notebooks with cartoon creations. So naturally, I’m eagle-eyed when it comes to searching out books about drawing. What I’ve been looking for lately, though, are less conventional drawing books and more books that inspire kids to draw without rules or steps (or only a few rules!).

Here, a handful I’ve found that straddle the line between drawing books and books about how to draw:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2016 and updated in 2021.