Kids, Coloring Books, And Creativity
When my boss asked me to write a post about coloring books and kids, I thought it would be a simple one to put together. Kids love coloring books right? And they’re a go-to for engaging but simple ways to entertain your kids.
Leave it to the Internet to reveal that there is, in fact, a bit of controversy about coloring books. Intrigued? Me too.
The Coloring Book Controversy
Okay, so here’s the Coloring Book Controversy (which I get a chuckle out of every time I type): In 2016 NPR published an article about the craze of adult coloring books at the time. In it, we learn about the 1947 book by Viktor Lowenfeld, Creative and Mental Growth. You can read the full text from Lowenfeld here, thanks to archive.org.
The argument begins from the assertion that coloring books for adults are a good way to unwind our overwrought brains and just relax. If coloring books are good for adults and kids love them, they’re probably good for kids too. Right?
Lowenfeld’s counterargument is that “dependency upon someone else's outline of an object makes children much less confident in their own means of expression.” Basically, kids are less creative when they’re coloring.
Which is fair when compared to say drawing their own pictures. But what about kids who don’t have the confidence to draw? Or kids who simply need a way to calm their minds. Everything doesn’t have to be creative and learning all the time.
It’s About Creativity
Kids who are given repetitive worksheets or tasks, like listing multiplication tables, aren’t really exercising their creativity. Which, in some cases, is fine. It’s good to memorize some math.
But kids also need creativity. They need to scratch incoherent lines of orange and magenta on construction paper. Let’s be honest, we all need that sometimes.
Coloring books live somewhere between a repetitive task and a fun, creative effort. It’s heavily guided because the shapes are predefined. But kids still have the choice about color and shading.
Fortunately, there are plenty of counter-arguments for Lowenfeld’s view of coloring.
Coloring And Mental Health
It’s no coincidence I’m talking about coloring books and their wonderful calming properties during May. It’s Mental Health Awareness month and a perfect opportunity to focus on the ways coloring books help us all find calm and to let go of anxieties and frustrations.
Take some time this month to learn more about mental health with this toolkit from Mental Health America. And if you or anyone you know is in need of some calming or distraction, consider a coloring book!
The Joy Of Coloring Books
First and most important, we should take a careful step back and realize that Lowenfeld isn’t arguing against coloring books. He’s arguing that coloring books shouldn’t be used as educational tools. He’s probably right.
But that doesn’t mean coloring books aren’t great for everyone!
If you think of coloring as a strictly fun activity, there’s really nothing to argue against. And there are still some benefits to kids when they sit and color. Spatial awareness and motor skills are at work. So too is their focus.
One of the greatest benefits of coloring is the ‘flow state’ of creativity you can achieve with relative ease. I’m talking about the period while you studiously apply layers of green to vague leave shapes and you lose track of time. That’s when we’re at our most focused and creative.
Coloring For Calming
We’ve likely all seen countless blogs and news articles about the calming benefits of coloring for adults. I think it’s pretty hard to argue with too. If you doubt, just give it a try. There’s something simple and delightful about going at a black and white line drawing with colored pencils.
For children, that calming might be secondary to developing focus and spatial awareness. Worth noting regardless; kids are often bundles of unceasing energy. Sitting them down to focus and color for 15 minutes is a perfect way to bring a little calm into your life.
Book of Mandala
Coloring and creating art is a great way to pass time for kids and adults alike. Coloring is yoga for your mind and soul and it is my favorite method to pass time and relax from time to time. The pages from this printed book can be used to frame on your wall as a masterpiece or to give it to someone special as a gift. Perhaps, use it to pass your time during a boring class or meeting.
Colors Of The City
Colors Of The City by Aaron Maybin Artist, Writer, Author, Activist
Adult Coloring Book "Bloom"
Purchase this amazingly illustrated coloring book for adults by Stephen Kavanaugh. Stephen is a professional artist from Omaha Nebraska. His initial love and passion stemmed from street art, but He has grown from his roots now that he has a beautiful family.
Beyond The Coloring Book
The primary takeaway today is that coloring books are wonderful for kids needing a creative outlet. Not so much an educational tool; more a toy or playtime activity.
And as your child grows, you can help them expand their creativity even further with a Lulu Junior book-making kit.
Lulu Junior’s book-making kits give kids a blank slate to fill in. Their story is printed and bound by the Lulu Junior and sent back as a complete book.
If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of depression, visit the SAMHSA website to find resources and anonymous hotlines.