My daughter likes organization and dislikes surprises. So when I went off-list for her 10th birthday and bought her an adult colouring book and a set of gel markers, the reaction was not exactly gracious.
“I’m not a baby! Why would I want a colouring book?” she demanded.
And so the book sat for a few days, ignored as she enjoyed the gifts that actually had been on her list. But one night, when she was particularly tired and cranky, and we’d been at each others’ throats all evening long, I had an epiphany. I pulled out that colouring book, lay down on the carpet of her bedroom and started colouring. She watched for a while, and then (with the moody reluctance that tween and teen girls do so well) she joined me.
Ever since that night, whenever we’re overwhelmed, over stressed, over tired or just plain over it, we grab a colouring book (we’ve added a couple more to our collection), some pencils or markers, and spend a little while “just thinking about colours” (those are her words and they describe our time perfectly).
Intuitively, I knew it was one of the smartest parenting moves I’d ever made, but the colouring book trend has exploded recently for the adult market, and I’ve been handed some empirical evidence of the value of colouring. According to art therapist and artist, Kim Abramowitz, colouring books provide a great way to “take care of one’s mental well-being”, and she can point to many reasons.
First, it’s cathartic and therapeutic, and offers a rare chance in our busy and outward focused worlds for some valuable self-care. Think of it as the equivalent of a full body massage…but for your mind. It’s also a very relaxing and mindless activity, and the amount of focus required can distract from any pain, physical or emotional.
Some great options available at bookstores include:
So why the rise in this hot trend right now? Abramowitz points to a feeling of nostalgia. Especially around this time of year, we harken back to those less complicated days of new pencils and blank pages. Colouring books are great because they’re less daunting than a blank page; we’re given guide”lines” to ease us into our creativity.
Finally, Abramowitz points to colouring books as a way to encourage feelings of mastery. Each night of the first week of school, my daughter and I spent 20 minutes colouring away on the same page of shoes from my Secret Paris colouring book. At the end of week one, there was such a sense of satisfaction seeing our completed page.
September 26th is National Colouring Day, and it’s the perfect excuse to pick up a colouring book. Indigo has a fantastic selection of them, and next month they’ll introduce their first literary colouring book based on Anna Karenina.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a ten year-old girl, a fistful of pencil crayons and a page of hats.