The Pros and Cons of Coloring Books and Their Effects on Children's Creativity
Some people think that there are more pros than cons of coloring books.
The books that children color in with crayons, markers, or other art media have been around since the late 19th century. They were first implemented for use with paints. Since about the early-mid to mid-20th century, they became the basis for learning, promoting animated and comic characters, and just having fun.
Some have pages that are activity-oriented (such as mazes, crosswords, and word searches). Some are promotional materials for movies, cartoon shows, and other licensed media. Some are for teaching children about something, like ballet and baseball. Let's not forget that some are themed to particular holidays like Christmas and Easter.
As well as there are people who think that children learn things and have fun with coloring books, there are also those who are not keen on it. The latter group believes that they squelch children's creativity rather than foster it.
Color in the Dinosaur...
There are reasons why some people support coloring books. First of all, the main goal of them is to keep kids busy. Most children have short attention spans, and waiting for their turn to, say, be examined by their pediatricians seems like "waiting forever." The same holds true with long car trips - even an hour's drive to Grandpa's farm seems like driving from New York to Los Angeles.
Secondly, children are learning to draw, but proponents think that they aren't quite ready to make "pretty pictures" by freehand drawing alone. They teach children obedience - two of the important rules of the books being that children must color in the pre-drawn lines and that no white areas (including small scribbles) are showing.
Also, coloring books enforce and develop perceptual skills. "When a child colors in set spaces 'inside the lines', so to speak, she must coordinate a complex set of skills that we call 'perceptual'; this category includes eye-hand and eye-arm." wrote homeschool teacher Marilisa Sachteleben, "In other words, when a child colors within spaces, she must train her hand to move within a confined area."
"She learns to use her eyes to control all the gross and fine muscles in her arms, hands, fingers and wrists. Her eye tracking and focusing improves (a pre-reading skill). She develops attention to detail and visual acuity." And coloring books teach children that importance of such attention to detail.
Scribble Scrabbles are OK!
Not everyone is impressed with the coloring book idea.
Since the time when the popularity of them boomed in the mid-1900s, some people have cried foul on them. They range from art experts, childhood development specialists, educators, and even parents.
So why do they bash something as innocuous as somebody's collection of line art ready to be colored in by kids? Well, the main reason why is because they believe that they stifle creativity rather than foster it. If creativity is defeated, then individuality also goes down the tubes.
Scores of children are naturally "bad drawers," and that's OK. They naturally scribble until age 5-7. But coloring books force them to trade in the scribbling for staying within the lines and coloring in them completely.
They also believe that the books teach them that adults are much superior drawers than them. "By the time they have completed the first few pages of the average coloring book, the only thing they will have learned is that adults draw better, by adult standards, than they do." wrote art teacher Susan Striker on her introduction of The First Anti-Coloring Book, "At this point most children spurn their own refreshing and creative drawings."
In some cases, that belief becomes a huge detriment to art appreciation because they think that their own drawings are bad. Drawing, as well as coloring, is one of the many vital fine motor skills children should develop, and opponents of coloring books believe that such material disallows it for the same reasons.
Thus, opponents believe that coloring books deter children from thinking outside the box.
"The youngster is supposed to color within the lines and some youngsters seem to enjoy this activity," said Dr. Viktor Lowenfield, director of art education at Pennsylvania State University, "This enjoyment may be because these youngsters do not have to think for themselves. The dependency upon someone else's outline if an object makes the child much less confidant in his own means of expression."
Such closed-mind, concrete thinking teaches children what certain things are, coloring book opponents say. For instance, they believe that they want kids to think that all elephants are grey, even when dirty. But in reality they appear some shade of brown when they are dirty until they are washed.
The scoops of ice cream on the sundaes are some of the exceptions in the line art book depictions. Kids know that they come in different colors because there are many flavors of ice cream.
But such claimed confinement and hampered ability for kids to think for themselves and be themselves are why some people think that coloring books are bad.
Though there are some people who think that coloring books are bad as there are some others who believe that they are good materials for children, some others think there's simply a time and place for them.
Those people in that said group believe that though they are aware of the criticisms of the books as well as their benefits, they think that they are good. They would have kids use them at certain occasions when they are necessary or once in a while. (Kids can balance creating own pictures on blank paper and coloring in coloring books. Most of the time doing so has no profound effect on creativity.)
Despite some people lauding them as well as some others condemning them, coloring books are still here to stay.
Note: they apply also to online printable or interactive coloring pages as well.