Ed Emberley Books Help Kids Learn to Draw

Reading Time: 2 minutes
A selection of Ed Emberley drawing books from LB Kids.

When I was a kid, my school library had a series of books I thought of as the “Drawing Books” by Ed Emberley. They were better than most drawing books because, while I felt like other books got too complicated in the steps too fast, the Ed Emberley ones did not. The ones my school’s library had were based on a series of very simple and basic shapes organized into step-by-step pictures. The books were themed by color such as Ed Emberley’s Big Purple Drawing Book, and I would try to draw giant dioramas with all of the things I learned how to draw in that book.

A couple of months ago, something reminded me of those books and I decided to poke around online and see if they were still around. I was delighted to discover that they still are, to an extent. You can buy a number of titles new via Amazon, but some are out of print. Luckily you can buy them used via Amazon or eBay for a reasonable used book price. You can see the collection here, and Ed Emberley also offers a fingerprint-based book (great for Color Me Mine type projects) and a “picture pie” book that uses circles and sections of circles great for papercrafters. We secured a number of these books, and they went under the Christmas tree this year with new markers and colored pencils.

With the two-month birthday/Christmas rush of LEGO building winding down (so, so many LEGO), we tried pulling out the books the other day. The boys selected a “Croaking Frog” from Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals as their first project.

The simple step-by-step method really works for kids. Image via LB Kids.

A, our second grader, was able to follow the steps a bit more independently. There is a little bit of a learning curve when kids are using coloring items because they don’t erase and they need to make sure they drew a head big enough for facial features and such, but A started to get the hang of it with only a few do overs. W, who is in Pre-K, needed a little bit of help keeping track of the steps and making his shapes the right proportion, but with a little guiding, he got it.

The frog results. W’s is on the left and A’s is in the right.

The boys then went to Ed Emberley’s Big Green Drawing Book and tried to recreate a cat. There was certainly some improvement from W.

The cat drawings. W’s is on the left, and A’s is on the right.

A even went back the next morning and tried a more complicated picture of an old timey car; he’s certainly is getting the hang of things. He says the books are “helpful for drawing.” W says the books are “pretty much fun.” He really enjoyed the books and tried to improve on his cat drawing when his brother was working on the car picture.

A’s car picture.

I really look forward to seeing what other pictures they do later and hope we can get to the big diorama stage that I had enjoyed so much.

Did you have these books around when you were kids? Do you think your kids would enjoy them?

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