The best books for effective strategies with drawing, teaching, and learning

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong artist and drawing enthusiast, I am passionate about the world of drawing and its potential to inspire creativity and self-expression. I never planned to be an art teacher. Surprisingly, a part-time job as a school bus driver led me to develop Monart®, which has become highly successful in schools around the world. My experience enabled me to present at state art educator conferences without having any formal training. I have had the privilege of inspiring and empowering students of all ages and backgrounds. At 85, nothing makes me happier than when a former student tells me their passion for drawing has led to a successful career.


I wrote...

Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too

By Mona Brookes,

Book cover of Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too

What is my book about?

Drawing with Children is a must-read for anyone interested in teaching drawing skills, as it presents a revolutionary approach to the subject known as "Monart®." The Monart® Method is designed to enable students as young as 4-5 years old to develop confident drawing skills beyond typical expectations. The book also offers guidance on implementing the method with older children, teenagers, and beginner adults.

The straightforward system of Monart® enables individuals without prior drawing experience to achieve success. It offers structured methods for teaching realistic drawing, including numerous examples and creative lesson plans for a step-by-step curriculum. Drawing with Children provides valuable insights into the classroom environment and teacher-student interaction, making it an excellent textbook for universities and a valuable resource for parents and teachers.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes

Mona Brookes Why did I love this book?

As a new art teacher, I started to doubt the usefulness of the endless praise given by other art teachers.

The repetitive use of "good job" lost its meaning and encouraged students to crave more praise. I believed that art had no right or wrong way of execution, and that even professional critics had varying opinions on what constituted good or bad art.

As a result, I avoided praising work based solely on my personal preferences.

Alfie Kohn's book on praise was a great relief for me as it solved my concerns about endless praise in the classroom. Now, I explain to students that advice does not require praise.

This approach fosters creativity and experimentation, without the unrealistic expectation of having students feel the need to like everything they draw.

By Alfie Kohn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Punished by Rewards as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an…


Book cover of The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study

Mona Brookes Why did I love this book?

My private art school offers classes exclusively in basic to advanced drawing techniques, with a focus on achieving varying degrees of realism across a range of subjects.

To accomplish this, I have designed a method that utilizes exercises and structured instruction. However, I am cautious not to impose too many limitations with my Monart® Method because I believe that too much structure can hinder students' creativity. 

Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw was the perfect addition for my lesson plans. The loose style effectively captures the essence of the subject while encouraging students to maintain a realistic interpretation.

The speed that is involved in his quick sketching technique makes it possible for the student to practice shape and feeling. 

The book provides clear and simple instructions with lots of illustrations.

By Kimon Nicolaides,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Natural Way to Draw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great for the beginner and the expert, this book offers readers exercises to improve their work.


Book cover of Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Visual Mapping

Mona Brookes Why did I love this book?

As a speaker at a conference on Howard Gardner's work on the "Nature of Intelligence," I learned that drawing what you are learning can result in eight times faster and longer retention of the information.

This inspired me to use drawing for learning. Nancy Margullies' book on using diagram drawings, to remember information, was invaluable to me.

As I trained teachers in my drawing methods across the U.S. and Canada, they reported improved student learning and retention. They suggested integrating the method into other subjects, such as drawing parts of a flower during a science lesson, which led to increased comprehension and retention.

I applied Margullies' Mind Mapping system to conference information and shared it with my drawing students, who successfully used the technique for homework and school subjects.

By Nancy Margulies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mapping Inner Space as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Visual Mapping is an easy-to-learn, straightforward system for generating and organising any ideas. Using a central image, key words, colours, codes and symbols, the process is both fun and fast. For many the traditional style of writing ideas in a linear fashion, using one colour on a lined piece of paper, is habit. Retraining the brain to draw ideas radiating from a central image takes practice and patience, but the benefits are considerable, particularly for students and teachers who like to see "the big picture". This second edition includes full colour maps, explores a range of mapping styles and takes…


Book cover of Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice

Mona Brookes Why did I love this book?

I personally recommend this book because it is a must-read for anyone dealing with students who struggle with learning or underperform in certain subjects.

Over the course of my 45-year career, I have encountered hundreds of individuals, including myself, who have struggled with math despite being highly skilled in drawing or art.

Howard Gardner, the head of Harvard University's Project Zero, has been a leader in the field of intelligence research since the late 1970s. His work rendered IQ tests irrelevant for measuring intelligence in education.

Understanding Gardner's work is critical to understanding how individuals function, and it has changed the way I interact with difficult students.

Reading this book gave me a new perspective on intelligence and helped me see it in a completely different light.

By Howard Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Multiple Intelligences as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most complete account of the theory and application of Multiple Intelligences available anywhere.

Howard Gardner's brilliant conception of individual competence, known as Multiple Intelligences theory, has changed the face of education. Tens of thousands of educators, parents, and researchers have explored the practical implications and applications of this powerful notion, that there is not one type of intelligence but several, ranging from musical intelligence to the intelligence involved in self-understanding.

Multiple Intelligences distills nearly three decades of research on Multiple Intelligences theory and practice, covering its central arguments and numerous developments since its introduction in 1983. Gardner includes discussions…


Book cover of The Power of Your Other Hand: Unlock Creativity and Inner Wisdom Through the Right Side of Your Brain

Mona Brookes Why did I love this book?

After reading this book, I discovered a new art form.

Lucia was a multifaceted creative professional. She collaborated with schools to train teachers in creative journal writing, developed a method called "healing the inner child," and co-wrote The Arts in Schools program with L.A. school officials.

The book discusses brain functions and ways to enhance creativity. The author recounts her experiment with drawing and writing using her non-dominant hand and encourages readers to try it themselves.

I tried it out as a test subject, and instead of drawing upside down, the author asked me to write a question with my dominant hand and answer it with the other.

The answers were unexpectedly profound, and drawing with my non-dominant hand was an eye-opener.

My students loved this process.

By Lucia Capacchione,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of Your Other Hand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brain researchers have in recent years have discovered the vast, untapped potential of the brain's little-used, right hemisphere. Art therapist Lucia Capacchione discovered that our nondominant hand is a direct channel to that potential. Her research and fieldwork with people using their "other hand" provides the raw material for this classic, first published in 1988.

In workshops and private sessions, Lucia has worked with thousands of people, employing these techniques to help them become more creative, expressive, and intuitive in their day-to-day lives and also experience improved health and greater fulfillment in their relationships.

Lucia will show you how to:…


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Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

Book cover of Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

Leslie Tall Manning Author Of Maggie's Dream

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Mentor Laugher Research nut Avid reader

Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Winner of the Literary Titan Book Award

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family’s happiness.

But Marilyn’s quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by…

Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

What is this book about?

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family's happiness.

But Marilyn's quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by the courts as the new guardian. Caleb…


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