I know lots of parents are stuck at home with kiddos right now, so I thought I’d put together a big list of my favorite resources for drawing with kids. (If you’re stuck creatively, by the way, nothing helps like drawing with a 4-year-old.) I’ll start with instructional books and videos, and move on to supplies.
Ed Emberley’s books
My all-time favorite drawing book is Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World, which takes a collage-like approach to drawing:
Here’s a sample of one of the spreads:
If they like Make A World, there’s a ton of other Emberley books for them to get into.
And here is a short documentary for kids to get to know the wonderful man behind the books.
Super Simple Draw
Think of Super Simple Draw as a kind of animated version of Ed Emberley’s books. My kids love to sit side-by-side and follow the directions. There’s a couple seasons on Amazon Prime, but there’s also a ton of videos on YouTube.
Here’s their video for how to draw a robot:
And here are some drawings from when Owen was 5 and Jules was 3:
Lynda Barry’s books
Nobody has taught me more about the magic of drawing than the queen, Ms. Lynda Barry. Her latest book, Making Comics, is filled with exercises perfect for kids of all ages, but I love everything she’s done. Most recently, she’s posted some draw along videos to her YouTube channel.
Here’s a video of Lynda talking about how anyone can draw:
Here’s how to draw a chicken:
And here’s Lynda drawing a cat, a turtle, and a dog.
Lunch doodles with Mo Willems
I love Willems’s books and these Lunch Doodles not only provide a drawing lesson, Willems also shows off his studio and talks about the process of making the books. (They’re all archived on Youtube.)
Other great illustrators who are sharing lessons on their Instagrams: @wendymac, @carsonellis, and @mikelowerystudio.
Art supplies are some of the best gifts you can give kids, but so many art supplies made for kids are straight-up junk. Here’s some stuff my my boys love that isn’t terribly expensive:
Crayola Slick Stix
Regular crayons are cheap and they don’t make a mess, but they’re hard to hold in tiny hands and kids have to really press hard with them to get any kind of decent result.
These Slick Stix are easy to grip and they lay down a really silky smooth line.
Give some of these to your kids along with some big pieces of paper and pretty soon you’ll have a bunch of Jean-Michel Basquiats to hang around the house.
Box of single-color Crayola Markers
This tip comes from my wife:
If your kid has a favorite color of marker, instead of buying another 8-color pack from Target or wherever, go online and buy a box of a single color in bulk.
(Our youngest goes through a ton of black.)
My youngest son had trouble making circles early on, so he loved to use these for wheels on cars, faces, etc.
They’re a little expensive, but they last a long time. (Try the exercises in Ed Emberley’s Funprint Drawing Book or copying pages from Little Blue and Little Yellow).
If you print them on top of each other, they mix color, so you can do a little Toddler Color Theory.
If you have a sidewalk, a driveway, or a concrete porch (see above) give them some sidewalk chalk and kick their butts outside.
Don’t forget paper. Lots and lots of paper.
Worry less about the quality and more about the quantity. We just go to Costco and buy whatever gigantic boxes of cheap copy paper they have and let the kids use as much as they want. (People would probably be shocked if they knew how much paper our 4-year-old goes through. But it’s worth it.) My friend buys paper for next-to-nothing in thrift and re-use stores.