Coloring Book

eraserhead coloring book

A coloring book is a type of book containing line art to which a child may add color using crayons (however, adult coloring products exist as well, including pornograhic, horror, and medical books).

Some coloring books have perforated edges so their pages can be removed from the books and used as individual sheets. Others may include a storyline and so are intended to be left intact. Coloring books may also incorporate other activities such as connect the dots, mazes, and other puzzles. Some coloring books also incorporate the use of stickers.

Paint books and coloring books emerged in the United States as part of the ‘democratization of art'” process, inspired by a series of lectures by British artist Joshua Reynolds, and the works of Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and his student Friedrich Fröbel. Many educators concluded that all, regardless of background, stood to benefit from art education as a means of enhancing their conceptual understanding of the tangible, developing their cognitive abilities, and improving skills that would be useful in finding a profession, as well as for the children’s spiritual edification.The McLoughlin Brothers are credited as the inventors of the coloring book, when, in the 1880s, they produced ‘The Little Folks’ Painting Book,’ in collaboration with Kate Greenaway. They continued to publish coloring books until the 1920s, when the McLoughlin Brothers became part of the Milton Bradley Company.

Another pioneer in the genre was Richard F. Outcault. He authored ‘Buster’s Paint Book’ in 1907, featuring the character of Buster Brown, which he had invented in 1902. It was published by the Stokes Company. This launched a trend to use coloring books to advertise a wide variety of products, including coffee and pianos. Until the 1930s, books were designed with the intent for them to be painted instead of colored. Even when crayons came into wide use in the ’30s, books were still designed so that they could be painted or colored.

As a predominantly non-verbal medium, coloring books have also seen wide applications in education where a target group does not speak and understand the primary language of instruction or communication. Examples of this include the use of coloring books in Guatemala to teach children about ‘hieroglyphs and Mayan artist patterns,’ and the production of coloring books to educate the children of farm workers about ‘the pathway by which agricultural pesticides are transferred from work to home.’ Coloring books are also said to help to motivate students’ understanding of concepts that they would otherwise be uninterested in.

Since the 1980s, several publishers have produced educational coloring books intended for studying graduate-level topics such as anatomy and physiology, where color-coding of many detailed diagrams are used as a learning aid. Examples include ‘The Anatomy Coloring Book’ and subsequent book series, by Wynn Kapit and Lawrence Elson.

Coloring books have seen wide application in the health professions as educational tools. One nurse, trying to limit the trauma of child surgery, described in an academic publication how the use of a coloring book ‘might help [the child] to understand what was going to happen to him.’ They are used in rehabilitation of accident victims to aid recovery of hand-eye coordination, and they are used with autistic children both for entertainment and for their soothing effect. .

In 2011, Really Big Coloring Books released ‘We Shall Never Forget ‘The Kids Book of Freedom” detailing specific drawings in the accounting of SEAL Team 6 shooting Osama bin Laden in his home. The book angered the US Muslim community thereby accusing the Publisher of portraying Muslims in a negative manner. In 2010 the company had previously published the educational political coloring novel called ‘The Tea Party Coloring Books for Kids’ and ‘Being Gay Is Okay’ (a novel highlighting tolerance and inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community).

Coloring books have been used for other political purposes, such as the 1968 ‘Black Panther Coloring Book,’ which featured black men and children killing pigs dressed as police officers. The notorious book was not actually made by the Black Panther Party, instead being made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s COINTELPRO program to discredit the organization.

The term and concept of the ‘coloring book’ was adopted by the feminist artist Tee Corinne as a tool of female empowerment. Corinne made pencil sketches of female genitalia, which she then inked and printed on cardstock. She published a collection of them in 1975 as ‘The Cunt Coloring Book.’ She said of the project, ‘No other name seemed really to fit, although the word ‘cunt’ was not one with which I was particularly comfortable. The alliteration, though, was nice. I also liked the idea of combining a street term for genitalia with a coloring book, because both are ways that, as children, we get to know the world.’

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