Every fall, New York City's Society of Illustrators puts on this hidden-in-plain-sight gem of an exhibit. The Original Art Exhibit displays original illustrations from a selection of the best picture books of the year.
Not only do you get to view the original paintings, drawings, and even sculptures that were used to illustrate these books, but the books themselves are on display so you can see how they appear in the finished product.
As an adult who loves art and kids' books, this is a blast for me. But it's just about the best art exhibit you can take a kid to. Because paintings in an art museum can seem abstract to a kid, but these pictures are used to tell amazing, exciting, and/or funny stories, in a format they're intimately familiar with.
And kids get a sense of how picture books are made. They don't sprout up on library and bookstore shelves fully formed; they are made by real people's imaginations and hands, using tools just like the ones kids use to make art.
My kids loved (and my nieces currently love) to find the books and the pages that match the original artwork on the wall. And we'll make a list of their favorites and I'll order them from the library -- in a couple of weeks we have a stack of great picture books they have a personal connection to.
This year's exhibit is great once again, and runs through December 30.
Above is the contribution of the great Adam Rex, who painted the covers of my two kids' books (so far), the EMU Club Adventures series.