I never think we can have enough coloring books around the house–or stashed in the travel bags for road trips and plane rides. As much as I love handing my kids plain sheets of paper for open-ended creativity, there’s something about coloring in the lines and having a jumping-off point for coloring that’s still really engaging for them. So I love that there are two new coloring books out for older kids too, that make really thoughtful, affordable gifts under $10.
Especially because both were written by independent artists we know and love.
Coloring Animal Mandalas, by Wendy Piersall is a pretty awesome take on the intricate mandalas my nine-year-old loves coloring. 31 drawings each have varying degree of detail, and I love that some are so subtle, it’s not until you look closely and notice that you’re coloring in owls, dragonflies, elephants, peacocks and dragons. Mandalas are so zen to begin with, I love that my kids can sit down for a good long time with these and really focus until it’s done. The results are amazing with newly-sharpened colored pencils, but watercolors or pastels could be fun tool.
(Colored image below via The Quilt Rat. Didn’t she do a beautiful job?)
This is definitely one for kids about seven and up. Younger kids who big coloring fans will like it too, but may have to play a little fast and loose with the lines–as kid are apt to do anyway. And if you have both? I photocopied the pages so each of my kids could draw, without fighting over the dragon. Just know the cover of the book isn’t quite big-publisher quality; in fact, it belies the quality of the printing and incredible artwork inside.
Another new indie coloring book comes from the remarkable Marisa Anne Cummings of Creative Thursday, who’s a super successful artist, designer, publisher and source of creative inspiration for all of us. And now, a first-time coloring book author too. (Where does that energy come from? Give me some of that!)
Marisa’s Creative Thursday Coloring Book isn’t specifically for older kids–in fact, it’s recommended for 3+ and I think kids of all ages will love it. However don’t discount it for grade-schoolers and tweens. My older daughter likes that it feels open ended enough that she can bring her own style to it, creating her own fabrics on the little girls’ dresses, adding a hat to a hedgehog, or embellishing the background of a woodland scene.
That’s a nice alternative to big-licensed character coloring books which often suggest every detail right down to the pattern on the dresses.
This one definitely skews female in sensibility, with lots of designs of cute girls, animals and creatures of all sorts. And I love how ethnically ambiguous the girls are, at a time when it can be really hard to find coloring books of people that don’t skew Caucasian. In fact, there’s a nearly Waldorf sensibility at play, allowing kids to bring their own sensibilities, moods and expressions to the kids and creatures on the pages.
In fact, I think any kid who loves putting pen/crayon/pencil to paper and creating a rainbow world of pink chickens, turquoise trees, and girls with purple bouffants should get lost in these lovely indie illustrations. And when they’re done? Copy them, cut them out, and add them to help the kids’ make their own homemade gift tags or holiday cards.
That’s like a gift that keeps on giving.