2 kid friendly drawing books to unlock your own creativity

As adults it is common to believe we aren't good at drawing or arts at all. Sometimes making art with a child helps nurture our creativity. Being beginners next to each other at the kitchen table can liberate us from our doubt. Even as a self proclaimed artist, I have been learning to draw new things and old familiar animals in new ways lately. 


It started with Ed Emberley. Did you love these books as a kid? These books got my family all drawing together this winter. My favorite is this Animals one I had as a kid. Franklin really loves the Weirdos edition with monsters.

Ed Emberley breaks down animals and cars and faces and monsters into basic shapes, letters and lines. Step by step you build complex shapes by making a square with a U with a 3 and then coloring it all in. The directions tap into the same orderly pleasure as following Lego instructions: looking at each new picture in sequence to see what to add.

can you guess who drew which werewolves?

can you guess who drew which werewolves?

I was surprised that Franklin (age 5) could follow them on his own. Especially since he didn't show much interest in representational drawing up to this point. Steeb and I tend to be outline first, line heavy drawers. To create these solid shapes with a few line details was a different way for us to draw too.

After going through these books and learning the Ed Emberley way, we can look at anything and try to find the shapes in it to draw our own world. Franklin has a new confidence in his ability to draw, which is really his ability to see. It is giving me a different way to think about building stuffed animals the way you sort of build drawings with his method.

Once we went through every Ed Emberley book at the library, we still had things we wanted to practice drawing. So Steeb checked out 20 Ways to Draw a Cat by Julia Kuo.

This book does not give step by step instructions. Each page just shows 20 different versions of an animal. They are all pretty modern and graphic but have a surprising variety of postures and perspectives. I have gotten into this one more than the guys, but we all have been inspired by it. 

my sketches of turtles over a Franklin design.

my sketches of turtles over a Franklin design.

And after all that drawing, I made a new reverse applique design for summer weight hats.


Drawing practice really is the foundation of visual arts. These drawing books are like doing a workout so my art muscles are in shape. I'm much more fit now when I design a new fabric thing or start a painting. 

[the book links in this post take you to powells books, a truly fabulous inddependent online bookstore. If you choose to buy any books through these links, I will receive a small commission. Any recomendations are totally things I would tell you about if we were chatting and you can find them at the library too.]