A coloring book and a box of crayons

Amber - Allendale, Michigan
Entered on March 17, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Imagine for a minute, that you are a young child between the ages of five and twelve years old, and you have been sitting in a big, white, stale, and disinfected room for the past two months with nothing to do. Day in and day out, you are brought into anther room, smelling strongly of bleach, only to find out that the doctors are doing more tests to find a way to get rid of the cancerous cells in your body. After hearing the same results that they will have to do more tests tomorrow, you are wheeled back to the big white room again with other kids around you going through the same thing everyday.

Well, imagine one day if someone came up to you in that hospital room and handed you a coloring book with a box of crayons. Now you have a whole new world in front of you where you can go to take away the pain. With a coloring book in front of them, children in hospital rooms can focus their attention away from all the machines, tubes, and doctors around them. Even children who aren’t in hospital beds can use their imagination with a coloring book in front of them to create a different world of their very own.

Inside these coloring books is a new world for children where they can be themselves. There are no rules inside of coloring books that the children have to follow. Sure, the pictures have thick black outlines, but that doesn’t mean that they have to color inside of those lines if they don’t want to. These books are for them, not for their teachers to see who constantly badger them with comments such as, “Billy, I want you to redo this page because this isn’t how a third grader colors.” Instead, children have the opportunity to make up their own rules. If children want a pig to be a spotted purple pig instead of a pink pig, it is all up to them. Even if children only want to color half of a page because they like one half more than the other, it should be up to them.

I believe that no child should go without the experience of exploring a coloring book in their lifetime. Coloring books for a child fosters the opportunity to not only show their creative side, but to be able to use their imaginations that they don’t normally get to use in their everyday school environments. These books also become therapeutic for children who are in hospital beds by becoming an ordinary activity to bring them into a world without the complication of the tests they go through each day and the test tubes and machines around them. Instead of giving a child a movie to watch for the afternoon when they start to complain that they are getting bored, offer them a coloring book and watch their imaginations go wild.