Book Review: The Artful Parent

The Artful ParentThe Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity–Includes over 60 Art Projects for Children Ages 1 to 8
by Jean Van’t Hul
Boston: Roost Books, 2013

Do you want to incorporate more art into your family’s life? If the answer is yes, then “The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Full Your Family’s Life with Art & Creativity” by Jean Van’t Hul is definitely a book you will want to pick up. Van’t Hul is a graduate of Wellesley College with a major in art history and studio art.  A mother of two, she has been writing about children’s art and creativity since 2008 on her blog The Artful Parent.

It is so important as parents and educators to nurture children’s creativity. As Mary Ann F. Kohl writes in the foreward, “An artful life trains the brain to work at finding alternatives and choices, solving problems and testing answers, and bypassing the known and accepted way of doing things to find new ways.” Please rest assured, art does not only mean the traditional tasks of drawing, painting, sculpture, etc., it also includes creating science experiments, nature walks, cooking and baking, and pretend play. In nurturing creativity we help children “hold on to the creative spark they were born with.”

“The Artful Parent” focuses on process-oriented art, which is the “open-ended exploration of materials and techniques.” What you end up with in terms of a finished product is much more important than how you got there. Van’t Hul believes that “crafts with directions to follow and planned projects are fine in moderation, but open-ended art should comprise most of a child’s art experience.”

Van’t Hul includes sections on how to make time for art in a busy life, store art supplies, contain the mess, encourage children who aren’t interested in art, and ideas for storing and displaying finished projects. In addition, over sixty art projects for children are included and depicted in full-color photographs with easy-to-follow directions. I’ve already tried some of these projects with my own children and they have enjoyed them immensely. Also, while the book states it is for children ages 1-8, older children, teens, and even adults will definitely enjoy many of these projects as well.  Because they are about process, rather than product, each individual can use his or her own particular skill level in working on the artistic endeavor.

“The Artful Parent” is a creative treasure, perfect for any parent or educator who wants to bring more art into children’s lives.



Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her fifteenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary". She blogs at