Coloring books have been a childhood staple since the 1800s. While they’ve changed a lot since then, one thing hasn’t: they’re creative, great fun for kids. There will always be the budget-friendly finds at the drugstore, but we like these more innovative coloring books that inspire children to color outside the lines.
1. The title is straightforward enough, but The Coloring Book ($13) is so much more than it first seems. Part coloring book, part activity pad, it speaks directly to the artist, encouraging thought and imagination on every page. “Color these shapes as fast as you can” reads one page, followed by one with a tangle of spaghetti the artist follows to create whatever dish he/she desires.
2. To anyone who calls coloring “girly,” show them Color Me ($20), a coloring book homage to the Chinese zodiac. Snakes, dragons, monkeys and pigs fill the pages, just waiting to be brought to life with a rainbow of colors. And when it’s finished, showcase your little one’s artwork on the coffee table.
3. Charley Harper, best known for his highly-stylized wildlife drawings, is celebrated in this coloring book ($7), which is full of line drawings of his well-known prints. It’s not so challenging that little ones will be intimidated, but it’s also sophisticated enough for older kids.