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Why I Don’t Buy Coloring Books for My Kids

by Jean Van't Hul
May 10, 2016

If you want to raise creative children, skip the coloring books

I don’t buy coloring books for my kids and never have.

I understand that you might feel like I’m attacking a sacred childhood institution but let me explain my reasoning.

Coloring inside the lines of someone else’s drawing is not art and it depresses creativity rather than encourages it.

I would much rather have my kids draw and color their own picture than use a coloring book.

I’d also rather have them play a drawing game or use a drawing prompt, as those are also creative activities.

Kids Drawing and Coloring without Coloring Books

A child who is making his or her own unique artwork will still get “coloring” practice if that’s important to you. And I assure you that they will likely start to color “inside the lines” with age and development, but there’s no need to encourage it unduly or too early.

Coloring books give kids the wrong messages ::

  • That their own drawing is not valued
  • This is what drawing looks like—perfect, adult, professional
  • Just color it in
  • Don’t think for yourself or draw for yourself
  • Color inside the lines
  • Do busywork and be quiet
  • Things look a certain way and should be depicted a certain way

If you want to raise creative kids, skip the coloring books and give them paper and crayons. Encourage them to draw for themselves.

Alternatives to Coloring Books - Story Doodles Place Mats by Taro Gomi

This post contains affiliate links. And if you want alternatives to coloring books, here are some that encourage creativity ::

Alternatives to Coloring Books for Kids

And here are some fun DIY alternatives to coloring books ::

Alternatives to Coloring Books - Playing Art Games

That said, I’m not the coloring book police.

My kids use (and enjoy) the coloring sheets that restaurants give them with their kids’ menus. (Although just as often, they’ll flip them over to the blank side and ask to play the scribble drawing game, tic-tac-toe, or do back-and-forth drawings.) And they’ve received coloring books as birthday gifts (A few pages might get colored in before the book is forgotten). I don’t make a big deal out of it.

But I also don’t buy coloring books for them. I’d rather have them draw their own art than color in someone else’s.

If your children want a simple coloring experience, how about doing a scribble drawing then coloring in the shapes? Or make color field drawings as Daphne’s been doing for months now as her storytime drawing.

Kids Art Display on Wall

How about you? Are you for or against coloring books? (And why?)

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If you want to raise creative children, skip the coloring books and give them paper and crayons. Plus lots of great alternatives to kids' coloring books.

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