Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some of his most beautiful paintings at both the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Art Institute in Chicago. Although his work was not appreciated during his lifetime, Van Gogh’s art is well-known and world-renowned today!
The book Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt touches on a brief time in Vincent’s life and career when he traveled to a small town and befriend the postman’s family. They helped Vincent settle into his home, visited him regularly and treated him kindly and respectfully despite the other townspeople’s distrust of an outsider.
My children liked reading this book and it provided an excellent opportunity to discuss biography, art history and friendship. The illustrations are nostalgic and include photographs of real Van Gogh paintings.
Best Ages: kindergarten – 2nd grade
- Discuss how the townspeople treated Vincent and what was different about how the postman’s family chose to treat Vincent. How can we learn from them?
- Vincent was a neighbor to the postman’s family and they welcomed him to their neighborhood with many kind gestures. Choose a neighbor (old or new) to show kindness to this week! Bring over a homemade treat, send a card in the mail or offer to shovel the sidewalk.
- Camille was sad when he took his painting to school and his classmates laughed at it. How should we treat our friends when they tell us about something that is important to them?
- Find the country of the Netherlands (Holland) on a world map, as well as Belgium and France. Explain those were the 3 places where Vincent lived throughout his life.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, complete this art activity based on Vincent Van Gogh’s painting style with your students. Coordinate with your art teacher if desired. Display completed paintings in your classroom, along with printed copies of his most famous work as seen in the book.