Coloring Inside the Lines

"Invisible Color Book,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 4, 1922. Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

“Invisible Color Book,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 4, 1922. Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

While the thought of going back in time to our awkward teenage years might fill most of us with abject horror, the carefree days of childhood may do just the opposite. Naptime and recess, even which crayon to use for coloring, reminds us of simpler times. Well, adults can pick back up their crayons – well maybe colored pencils – to enjoy a favorite childhood pastime once again: the coloring book.

What might be viewed as an offbeat way to spend some time has actually become quite trendy. In the last year, coloring books have topped best-seller lists like Amazon. According to the New York Post, since 2013, more than 2,000 coloring books have hit stands, and two of the genre’s best sellers – “Secret Garden” and “Enchanted Forest” – have sold some 13.5 million copies.


Further, while coloring may invoke happy memories, it’s also been known to relax and de-stress. One of the first psychologists to apply coloring – particularly mandalas – as a relaxation technique was Carl G. Jüng.

As part of a #ColorOurCollections movement – an incentive for individuals to color images from library collections – the Library has created a Pinterest board on coloring books featuring pages from our historical newspaper collections.

“Coloring is so accessible,” author Johanna Basford told The New Yorker. “It unleashes the creativity we all have in a way that’s quite safe.” Basford’s “Secret Garden” (2011) has been credited with jump-starting the adult coloring book trend.

Try your hand at the coloring pages on the Library’s Pinterest board, and show us your creativity!


Sources: New York Post,

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