There are many art and art-related books available for the toddler (and even infant) set.
Here is a brief glimpse of a handful of the finest.
Words and Pictures by Vincent Van Gogh
from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This book delivers on an interesting concept. Van Gogh's actual words (albeit only six or so per page) are used to present sixteen of his famous paintings to children. Throughout his life, Vincent corresponded with his brother Theo, explaining in blunt simplicity, his work. Text is pulled from those letters to accompany his art here and while the words are few, it is still very neat to know that you are reading Van Gogh's own thoughts and descriptions of some of his most well-known paintings. A nice introduction to some amazing art for toddlers.
Bijou, Bonbon and Beau (The Kittens Who Danced for Degas)
by Joan Sweeney
Illustrated by Leslie Wu
A simply lovely book telling the tale of three adorable kittens and their mother who take up residence in a famous Paris theater - the same one frequented by Edgar Degas. Leslie Wu's work on this book is magnificent, replicating Degas' pastel stylings, adding an authentic Degas-esque touch to an already compelling story. Bijou, Bonbon and Beau is perfect for cat lovers, little ballerinas and art enthusiasts (amazingly enough, the Bear qualifies as all three!)
Small Stories of Great Artists
By Laurence Anholt
These 4 books served as the Bear's introduction to fine art and the artists Van Gogh, Picasso, Da Vinci and Degas. Each of these Anholt classics are available in traditional form but are presented here in mini-me format, a compact and neatly organized collection of great stories with a nice decorative case (pictured here). The books "Degas and the Little Dancer" and "Piccaso and the Girl with a Ponytail" are by far the favorite in our home, so much so that we drove to D.C. to see Degas' famous sculpture "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen" a few weeks back. Even my mom liked these books. So much so, that she ordered them from Amazon.uk as a Christmas gift for a co-worker's daughter (while the standard formats of these four books are readily available, the "small stories" collection is available from only overseas sources. We bought ours in the Louvre last year.)
In short, these books are terrific. You will not be disappointed with your purchase!
Check out this ebay UK auction for the set signed by Anholt!
Art up Close
by Claire d'Harcourt
Art up Close is actually an iSpy-like puzzle book rather than a story about art. Inside this over-sized edition you and your child will work on finding highlighted items/sections that exist inside the 23 works of art that adorn the pages. This book is challenging (but not overly difficult), fun and really gets your family looking closely at art and all the amazing details that exist in these works of art. Very, very cool item.
by Taro Gomi
A fun and creative coloring, painting and drawing book. Inside are 200+ pages of faces, vases, streams and scenes waiting your child's imaginative touch. The book uses a thick paper to allow multiple artistic formats - crayon, paints, pencils, etc. This is not your everyday coloring book, it will spur on the creative process in a way a blank or character-laden coloring sheet will never be able to. One caveat - when the Bear employed the use of a new set of Elmer's Paint Pens, the paint did bleed through several pages (it still bled through at least one page when she was careful not to use too much paint). It would seem that watercolor paints are probably the intended medium here.