Growing up my kids could never have enough coloring books and crayons. They each have had their own relationships with these items. I have also heard much debate over providing children with coloring pages and books and how they stunt their artistic abilities.
My son could not handle the complexity of the coloring book. From as young as 2 years old he would have a major melt down if he colored outside of the lines. For him it was safer to provide him with blank paper so he could draw. It did not matter if he scribbled all over the place with multiple colors as long as he did what he wanted and didn’t have the opportunity to make a mistake, like coloring outside of the lines. By the age of 3 he had a large white board that he could draw on. He used this board for hours of play time and even shared with his little sister. Today he is 21 and is interested in art, but still not huge on coloring books and crayons.
My oldest daughter loves to color. She has the most coloring books with a wide range of topics. Princesses, animals, Sesame Street and other popular movie coloring books. She does not like the coloring and activity books. These tend to have more activities than coloring. Whenever she is having trouble sleeping she colors, when she travels she brings a coloring book and crayons, and when she needs a break coloring helps her relax. She is 19 now and still loves to color, paint and is interested in photography as well. She, however, is not able to draw to save her life. Unless of course all that is needed is a stick person.
The baby of the family, my youngest daughter, has a somewhat different interest in coloring. She loves coloring as much as her sister but likes dinosaurs, jungle animals, dogs and dragons. Her completed pictures look like they passed through a rainbow versus her sister’s that are more true to reality. The youngest colors to avoid other activities like homework and housework. This young lady is preparing to go to college for business entrepreneur so she can own her own business doing landscape photography.
I was recently advised that the only coloring crayons worth buying are Crayola. If I wasn’t going to buy Crayola I shouldn’t buy anything at all. Apparently the other crayons out there are simply wax with some color in them and are not very effective for coloring. I have to admit that I was shocked when my girls told me this. I have been buying them the cheapest available crayons for years and not once did they complain or tell me how awful they were. Now I know and will NEVER make that mistake again.
As for the debate on whether allowing children to have a coloring book versus only providing blank space for them to explore their own artistic talents, I am on the fence. I am not sure what I believe as I have never given it much thought. I did what my children indicated they needed. My son didn’t function well with a coloring book yet the girls loved them. Perhaps each family needs to decide for themselves what will or will not work for them.