Do coloring books stifle creativity? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 01:29 AM
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I don't have a problem with good coloring books. There are a lot of terrible ones out there (commercial, thin paper, weak art, etc). My son is 4 and a half, and just asked for his first coloring book (Wildflowers).

I remember finding coloring relaxing, and loving to pick the colors and ending up with something I really liked. I also remember making up my own patterns with colors within the picture, like giving someone a paisley shirt. That said, I am not a great artist (but I am good with color!), but I think that was because art/creativity was not valued by my family, not because of the coloring books.

My mother in law is an artist, and hates the idea of coloring books. But I think that is kind of dogmatic.

I would never hover or tell him to stay in the lines. I do think it is great for fine motor development and self esteem. I worked with a lot of children with emotional issues, and they would often color in a book before they would ever draw (too risky, possibility of failure, too personal), and they found it relaxing and a source of pride. We definitely encouraged art and risk-taking, but the coloring was a good stepping stone for some.

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#32 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 01:42 AM
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Hi there

Great topic. I also loved colouring books while growing up and am terrible at drawing. Perhaps that is why?

When I was in sunday school one of the older girl who was supervising us during the break critized my colouring and told me not to scribble but to make nice straight line while colouring then it would look even and all. I couldnt believe it. Ever since then I hated colouring in pictures. Told my mom years later of this experience.

I took Art Education for primary children as an elective at University and my teacher told us to throw away colouring books. It forces the kids to look at things from one angel and not allows them to expand their vision. We learned many abstract artwork to do with preschool children. It made so much sense. She said children need the development stage of drawing through exploration. By giving them something we limit it.

Since then I have always been conscientous of colouring books. Even those paint by numbers as well.

I do many creative things with my children...let them do finger painting...the best (can do with pudding too), watch the colours soak up the tissue with food colouring, paint with strings, make butterfly or mirror image from spotting page with paint and open it up so forth. I let the kids use crayons and let their imagination run wilds. Its fun to watch them tell me what they drew. Other day my son 2.5 now told me he drew a baby cow and a mama cow. Was so cute. Just a little blob but he was sooo proud of it!

Sorry I am rambling on.

Its late...should go to bed. wanted to add my two bits here.

hugs and have fun doing art work with your children.
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#33 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 03:40 AM
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We've started using colouring books with Isaac, because since his squint developed his hand-eye co-ordination has got a little worse- it's one more way for him to practice controlling a pen. I'm not planning on it being a long-term thing, but I don't consider it art- it's a tool.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#34 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 03:53 AM
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wow. another mama that never even thought about it....good topic...has me thinking.

First, as a child AND as an adult, I LOVE coloring. Just love it. It's relaxing for me. Before kids, I was known to buy my own coloring books and to color them at home. Dh thought I was nuts! I have great memories of me and my brothers and my mom coloring at the kitchen table. SHe would color one side, and me the other and then we would sign and date the pages. I still have some of the books . So, for us, it wasn't about art, but about doing something fun together or alone. Nothing more, nothing less.

Ds has a few coloring books, and he likes them, but I don't make him color in the lines or anything like that pr to use correct colors for objects like green for grass either. He also has a large easel for drawing, a chalk board for drawing, and loads of plain paper books to make drawings.

I'm thinking that coloring is just one activity amoung many art activities presented and introduced to a child, and as long as one doesn't provide "rules" to coloring in coloring books it isn't stifling of one's creative outlets.

Heather , momma to ' Parker- 10, Carlee- 7 and our baby Genevieve Faith - 8-27-10

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#35 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 12:23 PM
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This thread reminds me of an amazing "coloring book" I had when I was a kid: about 1/4 of each page was part of a famous work of art--a little section of "Broadway Boogie Woogie," just the lion from Rousseau's "Sleeping Gypsy", a couple of the melting clocks from Dali's "Persistance of Memory", etc., and you invented/filled in what the rest of the painting might look like. My mom took me to the Museum of Modern Art after I had finished my versions of the paintings, and we saw the real things.

I think I had some other coloring books, too, although I was certainly much more interested in "free style" art...but I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with them, unless that's the ONLY creative outlet a kid has.

ETA: Looking back over this thread, I just realized the coloring book I was talking about was one of those Susan Striker anti-coloring books. So maybe it doesn't count! :LOL
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#36 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by boongirl
DD got one of these for her birthday. It's pretty neat.
We do not forbid coloring books. I don't see them stifling dd's creativity. We also keep reams of paper solely for her use. Dh works at a publishing co. and gets the last last of the roll paper--huge rolls of medium weight white paper. We have hundreds of crayons, markers, paint, stamps, stickers, glitter, feathers, envelopes. Given our stockpile of art supplies, a few cheesy coloring books aren't going to have much of an impact on her creativity. DD is a prolific artist, and if she wants to color in a picture of Porky Pig, why not?

I love to knit, and I rarely use patterns, although sometimes I knit from a pattern for fun, to improve a technique, or because I like the pattern. When I want to knit something very detailed or intricate, I will use a pattern until I can do it myself. I view dd's coloring books in a similar light.
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#37 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 01:49 PM
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I don't forbid coloring books but don't buy many either. Well, I just don't consider then art, but I still think they are fun. It is relaxing for me, like reading. I think it is a prewriting activity developing muscle control and some playing around with color. I don't like their cheap paper though, as my artist mom used to say, "Even Rembrant couldn't paint with this *&^% (stuff)" when refering to cheap children's art supplies.
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#38 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 01:59 PM
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I don't think I would FORBID coloring books, but I do seem them as uhh.. not so great. I agree about the coloring books are like fast food analogy.

The main problem I see is just that I can't seem to find many that aren't Barbie, or Dora, or whatever the latest blockbuster kid's movie is... If I wanted dd to color I would probably stick to generic coloring pages from the internet.

I think Dover has some pretty cool coloring books for older kids. When I was young I had an "Infamous Women In History" coloring book and I 'd it! I also had one about Henry the VIII's wives and the costumes were crazy intricate and fun.

The 4 year old I watch won't draw, she always says "I can't draw good!" No matter how I try to make it fun and get her to try, she won't. She loves coloring, though. Not sure how to handle that.


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#39 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 02:22 PM
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Before I had children I had planed on not getting them coloring books.

But I have.

And you know what...they never use them. My boys are always drawing. Soooooo, we have tons of art stuff and the coloring books end up in the garage sale pile.


Originally Posted by Kincaid
Looking back at my own childhood, I am thinking about choices my parents made. They were pretty crunchy compared to my classmates (I was born in 1972). One of our house "rules" was no coloring books.

We had tons of art supplies, clay, paints, etc. My dad always was drawing and drafting at the kitchen table (he worked from our house as an architect). But he would not let us have coloring books, not even from someone as a gift. He said he did not want us coloring within lines, he wanted to encourage our natural creativity. That time spent on coloring books would be better spent with real art supplies.

Anyone else ever heard of this? What do you think? I wonder if he learned that in art classes, or if it was just something flakey that only my family did
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#40 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 03:20 PM
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Stiffle creativity is certainly a strong possiblity, but coloring books are hardly the only source of many things in our culture that do...

First, teaching children that there is only certain ways to correctly draw an image limits both their ability to think visually as well as read visual information.

Second, scribbling is a process of learning finer muscle memory and developing the skills to make more precise marks. It is how we learn written language as well as drawing. If allowed to develop on their own, children (this is universal and not limited to the culture you come from) will naturally learn to make the marks (over twenty recognizable lines). When well intentioned adults interfer with budding artists marks, the learning often diminishes instead of increases. Adults are often people that prescribe the "right" ways of doing things, and thus limit the creativity inadvertantly.

Finally, coloring someone elses ideas are not a very authentic art activity. Art is a means communicating ideas and emotions, as well as a physical activity (sometimes although much rarer, it evokes a spiritual response). It is a means of better understanding the world we live in and working out complex thoughts that can not always be express verbally. If you really want your child to enjoy, learn, and grow artistically, encourage them create content from things that are important to them, occuring in their own lives, or related to their own experience as creative and imaginitive individuals.

A good book for parents is Young at Art by Susan Striker. If you want to learn more about academic side of creativity and art, look up Howard Gardner's Theory on Multiple intelligence, anything by Elliot Eisner, or Frank Wachowiak's Emphasis Art.

Most people that are creative are open minded, are willing to try new things, and desire learning.
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#41 of 47 Old 06-09-2005, 04:35 PM
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I think that coloring books and art are two totally different things. We sometimes print out pictures of patterns or mythical creatures to color and we have a few coloring books but it's more of a brainless relaxing thing to us. We color together and chat but when Trevor is doing art he doesn't want to be bothered and is very intense and involved in whatever he is creating. I think that if all you are exposed to is coloring books as art and that you are told step by step what you should do then there could be a problem.
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#42 of 47 Old 06-10-2005, 10:01 AM
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I was an early childhood education major in college & the supervisor of our department always told us that if he ever visited a preschool that one of us opened & we had coloring sheets or coloring books he would be disappointed with us.

That said my own kids love to draw on plain paper, but sometimes prefer coloring a page & I don't have a problem with it.
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#43 of 47 Old 06-10-2005, 07:08 PM
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i agree that coloring books and art are 2 things. i am a very creative person and i was allowed to use coloring books. they gave me a chance to get used to the feeling of crayons, experiment with color choices, and so on without the pressure of having to draw a picture myself and have it come out wrong. i think that can build alot of confidence in art materials and just a kids sense of color, texture, and so on. its like giving them experience in the materials aspect of it.

i have always loved coloring books, cuz they are meditative. i love putting color on the paper. i am the same way about painting. i love seeing the paint go onto the paper/canvas, and the feeling of that just asmuch as i like creating a picture. you dont have to think very much when you color. its just a different expereince. i would never want it to be the *only* expereince my kid had with art, cuz i think if all you ahd was coloring books you would miss out on creativity---but if a kid is expereincing all kinds of artisitc materials and projects, a coloring book will not dominate thier creativity.
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#44 of 47 Old 06-10-2005, 08:15 PM
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I loved my coloring books when I was kid. I have my BFA. I don't think it stifled my creativity. Having a teacher tell me I could not paint the sky purple & trees blue (as happened to one of my neighbors growing up) would stifle it.

My kids have coloring books. Sometimes they use them and sometimes they don't. Some are scribbled and some are colored nicely. Some have unique colorings some do not. They have fun. That is all that matters.

Coloring books are one more thing that your child can love or hate. It all depends on how the parents present them.

Kathy-Mom to Blake & Mikaela
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#45 of 47 Old 06-11-2005, 01:22 AM
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I provide both coloring books and tons of blank paper. My dc usually go for the blank paper. When my dd was little I took her to Borders story time and they would give her a coloring book sheet which she would promptly turn over and color on the back. I think that the whole "color inside the lines" thing is sad and repressed. Sometimes someone would look at dd's pics and ask her why she didn't color the picture or color in the lines. She would look at them like that had three ears on their forehead- just didn't understand where they were coming from .
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#46 of 47 Old 06-13-2005, 09:09 PM
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I had never heard the "coloring books stifle creativity" idea until I started doing home daycare. I really don't buy it. DD has always had free access to coloring books. She's also had free access to crayons, paper, markers, paints, clay, colored pencils, etc... She's quite creative. She loves to draw and has books full of her art (which can be a problem because she sometimes gets in trouble for drawing at school when she should be doing her work. She makes up stories to go with them. She makes up comics about her and her friends. People know how much she loves it and for her birthday/xmas/whatever she gets pencils, colored pencils, sketch books, etc... So it really doesn't seem that the coloring books have done any damage.

I personally loved to color as a kid and STILL do. It's very relaxing to me. I have my own coloring books and pencils that the kids aren't allowed to touch. I found some really cool coloring books from a company called Mindware that I very much enjoy coloring.
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#47 of 47 Old 06-15-2005, 03:41 PM
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I already posted, but have been thinking about this a lot.

I think as DS gets older, I wouldn't have a problem with coloring books. At his age though, he seems so impressionable with art. I think that scribbling has so many benefits that I wouldn't want him to take that time away from that to coloring books.

I rediscovered coloring books in college. I agree that they can be relaxing, but I don't think they are appropriate for my son at his age.

Children deserve the respect of puzzling it out.
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