We don’t buy coloring books anymore. It’s not that they are very expensive, it’s that they are wasteful. In our house, anyway. Early on Isobel turned her nose up at coloring books printed on color-dulling brown paper, and the coloring books she did approve of usually only contained a few pages she’d actually want to color. The others she just wasn’t interested in and we’d be left with a whole book of blank pages with just a few completed that she considered “done.” Worst of all, the only pages she would want to color she’d want to color over and over again. But once it’s colored, it’s done. Let’s just say we’ve had our share of coloring book angst in our household.
Until we started finding free coloring pages on the internet.
Initially we despaired of ever finding a squirrel coloring book to match her fervent request, but one “squirrel coloring pages” search later pulled up more results than she could ever color. She picks the ones she wants, we print them out, and there’s no waste. That time she only wanted to color sunflowers? Or Wasp from the Avengers? Or Pikachu? Boom. Boom, boom, boom. We are just a few clicks away from finding coloring pages for whatever crazy thing she can think of, and since she’s choosing the images, they are all Isobel-approved so they will be colored. You really can find anything you want to color.
There are entire websites that exist solely to provide free coloring pages, and you can match up pages to whatever your child is studying in school, or the season or a holiday, or a strange obsession they happened to cultivate. Free coloring pages have never let me down, and my daughter can have quite the random tastes at times. I do still buy coloring books, but these days I buy them for me.
It’s not a completely free exercise, of course, because you have to have access to a computer, the internet, and a printer with ink. We have to have these things for our work, and I try to offset the environmental cost by using blank back sides of papers. But it is convenient, and cheap if you already have these things on hand, and offers less waste if, like us, a coloring book was useless to your child after s/he had gone through about ten pages.
This is also a very useful tip if you don’t have kids yourself but occasionally watch some. You don’t have to worry about them rejecting your Yo Gabba Gabba coloring book because that was so two developmental stages ago. Picking out the images to color is actually really fun for both parties and I like that if we are coloring together, we can each chose something that we’d like to color.
We started doing this about a year and a half a ago, but I wish we had known about this much earlier.