This summer, the Art Institute is partnering with Chicago Public Library for their Summer Reading Program, called Reading is Art-RAGEOUS. The program encourages kids to read during the summer months by offering a variety of events, providing book recommendations, and exploring how themes in art and reading connect to everyday life. In preparation for the program, some of the museum’s educators (including myself) have been training participating CPL librarians, staff, and teen volunteers on behind-the-scenes info about the works of art featured in the program. For example, we get to teach them about how the featured Cornell box includes actual tree bark and fungi and that John Singer Sargent ran a dry paint brush up and down his wet painting to create a mist effect for the waterfall.
And while that’s definitely my favorite part, the links that we’re able to make between the art and suggested readings are also really interesting. A Cornell fan/reader may check out Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, a book for ages 4-8 about searching for owls in nature during the night.
Ultimately, both the Art Institute and CPL are using the themes to relate to daily life, and promote reading and artful thinking as a result. And it’s undeniably more fun than a book report!