Who knew something so mundane and commonplace could be so controversial?
The Coloring Book.
They’re practically everywhere, and for the past several years, adults have taken up this childhood pastime as well. So are coloring books bad for children? Do coloring books stifle creativity.
There’s a bit of controversy surrounding the coloring book; and just like the coloring book, the controversy isn’t quite new either.
The Supposed Benefits of Coloring Books
On the one side, you’ll find advocates of coloring books citing their stress-relieving qualities for adults and their developmental attributes for children.
An article in MomJunction lists “13 Amazing Advantages Of Coloring Pages For Your Child’s Development.” Some are mechanical, such as improved hand-eye coordination, improved handwriting, and better “grip.”
Others are mental. MomJunction claims coloring can help children gain more confidence, enhance self-expression, and further children’s creativity.
“Regular coloring also improves confidence in your young kids,” the article states. “Completing a coloring sheet gives your kids a sense of accomplishment, which builds their self esteem and confidence.”
The article also states, “Coloring gives your kids an opportunity to express their creative side.”
However, some would argue the opposite.
Is Coloring for Creativity a Myth?
Some parents and educators scorn coloring books for children and oppose those who defend it. In 2016, NPR writer Steve Drummond attempted to settle the debate with an article titled, “The People Vs. Coloring Books: The Verdict Is In.”
When Drummond turned to a contemporary expert to help settle the debate, she pointed to decades-old writing from Viktor Lowenfeld, whom she called the “great-great-grandfather of art education.”
His unambiguous opinion: “There is general agreement that coloring books are too detrimental to children’s creative expression.”
He explained, “The dependency upon someone else’s outline of an object makes children much less confident in their own means of expression. They obviously cannot draw a cow as good as the one in the coloring book.”
“I would much rather have my kids draw and color their own picture than use a coloring book.”
She goes on to say, “If you want to raise creative kids, skip the coloring books and give them paper and crayons. Encourage them to draw for themselves.”
Children’s Coloring Books In My Own Home
While I tend to a agree with those who feel that children’s coloring books are limiting and are not a great means for promoting self-expression and creativity, I have not banned coloring books in my home.
Both of my children enjoy coloring. I believe they find it relaxing, and I see that they still invoke their own imaginations and creative styles when coloring. They will add stripes, rainbows, and polka-dots to coloring book pages.
We also keep plenty of blank paper around, which they turn to even more often than coloring books. We have a set of drawers in the corner of our living room with art and craft supplies, so they are free to pull out paper, crayons, markers, glue, stickers, and even a dreaded coloring book or two on occasion.
Do you have coloring books at your house? Do your kids enjoy them? Do you think coloring books are beneficial, or do you prefer your children engage in more open-ended activities?