What’s in a Coloring Page Anyways?

“The benefits of giving children a blank piece of paper versus a coloring book can be the same as when reversed. Each option has benefits… Coloring books that have just pictures in them provide an opportunity for a child to learn to stay within a set of rules. This is important to a point. One must learn to function within a parameter of rules in society as a whole. Learning to color inside the lines also helps with hand to eye coordination…Coloring inside the lines involves different perceptual and physical skills than is used in free form drawing on a blank piece of paper.  Coloring books offer opportunities to develop the left side of the brain via attention to detail. ” – C.M. Tucker for Helium, 2012.

We’ve all heard of a time when a kid was in school and was given some crayons and paper, and drew some scary scene of their reality. A monster in the bed, mommy getting hurt, someone holding a knife. You know the drawings. The ones that end up in the guidance counselor’s drawer.  Much of the time, children still draw what I drew in childhood. A green line of grass at the bottom of the page, a blue line on top, a sun, a family. Kids draw what they see, what they experience. Coloring is an effective method of communication.

Coloring is a lost art. No pun intended. Our school’s art teacher often complains that first-graders enter her classroom with no coloring skills. Thanks a lot, Tablet.  I try to fill this deficit with engaging, purposeful coloring time if the weather permits. Crappy weather equals no outdoor recess. No outdoor recess  translates into more time to sit and eat your lunch in the cafeteria. Some board games will be taken out, if they’re lucky (Not my system). On days when I cannot bring them back into the classroom for freeze dance or hide-and-seek, I send them to the cafeteria with coloring pages. The art of coloring is quite meditative. It provides time for the child to contemplate reality, and paint it how they see it.

By offering children specific coloring pages, we are feeding them a social standard, an assumption, a norm. The norm predominantly exists as Barbie, and Disney. You can print out both themes in excess on the  misleading and inaccurately titled website, http://www.educationalcoloringpages.com. On this popular website you can navigate through the coloring pages by clicking on one of the categories: Top Ten Coloring Pages, Girls Coloring Pages, and Boys Coloring pages, are the top links. Over 60% of the pages offered for girls are Barbie and Disney. The rest are other feminine popular characters branded for girls.   They do nothing to educate.  And if you google the phrase ‘coloring books’, Disney character themed printables are offered in the top three generic coloring page websites.

Let’s try some alternatives.

Scan Cole like to nurture

From Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be…Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell and Irit Reinheimer. Published by Soft Skull Press for Counterpoint LLC, Berkley, CA. 2004. Distributed by Publishers Group West. Printed in the United States.

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From Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be…Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnell and Irit Reinheimer. Published by Soft Skull Press for Counterpoint LLC, Berkley, CA. 2004. Distributed by Publishers Group West. Printed in the United States.

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From Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnel & Nathaniel Kusinitz. Published by PM Press, and Reach And Teach. Printed in the USA.

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Kudos for the author using the under-represented word ‘children’.
From Scribbles: A Really Giant Drawing and Coloring Book by Taro Gomi for Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Manufactured in Singapore for Tien Wah Press.

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From Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon Coloring Book by Jacinta Bunnel & Nathaniel Kusinitz. Published by PM Press, and Reach And Teach. Printed in the USA.

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From Zolocolor! Doodling Between Black and White by Byron Glaser & Sandra Higashi for Little Simon, A Division of Simon & Schuster, New York.
Manufactured in China

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher. Now go color.