Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing

It’s Wednesday which means it is time for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Alyson Beecher at KidLitFrenzy. I love the idea of trying to focus on at least one nonfiction picture book a week here, though I don’t always manage to stay on focus. But a new year, a new goal, right? For my first real week back at writing here, I decided to share a book that I found about one of my favorite artists, Keith Haring.

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Keith Haring was an artist whose work has always stood out to me. Perhaps it is because I was a child in the 1970s and 80s, but his art is instantly recognizable and was something that seemed to be everywhere during a part of my childhood. When I think of Keith Haring, in addition to seeing his drawings in my head, I think of him as an important part of the AIDS community and all of the world that he managed to do even after he died in 1990. In her book, Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing, Haring’s sister, Kay, shows us a different side of the artist and hopefully will encourage young visionaries and philanthropists alike.

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Haring wrote this book to answer the question that is always posed to her – what was Keith like as a kid. Using actual drawings from his childhood, Kay Haring shows how their father encouraged a love of art and how it was just a part of who Keith was. Haring was inspired by ideas in his head as well as things that he saw around him.

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Amazingly, Keith Haring always looked out for the people around him and he wanted to make art accessible to all. Some look down on graffiti artists, but that was a part of his motivation. When Haring gained commercial success as an artist, he used that money to help others.

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I will admit that I missed the fact that his work with the AIDS community was ignored since that is what I knew most of him. However, I also recognize the need to get this book to as wide an audience as possible and the fact that some would find fault with including that topic in a book for children.

This book showed a side to Keith Haring that I had never known about. It also showed the sheer pleasure that Haring got from making art. Kay included a powerful quote that sums it all up for me:

I draw all the time because there are many spaces to fill. I give my drawings away to help make the world a better place. I draw everywhere because EVERYONE needs art!

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For more great nonfiction picture books, head over to KidLitFrenzy!

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