Sunday, 31 January 2016

Writing - Colouring books a new trend

Before Christmas 2015 I heard that colouring books were going to be popular as gifts for adults. I was quite surprised when I walked into W H Smith's and saw a whole display unit full of colouring books for adults!

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Secret Garden

Remembering back to my own children and to teaching in junior school, the art of colouring in was a real skill. As a child I have uncomfortable memories of failing to colour inside the lines and being criticised for the lack of motor skills. It is also true that a child's early development was partly assessed for fine motor skills by looking at their ability to colour in.

Even though it was considered a fun activity to carry out on a rainy Sunday afternoon or as an end of term task, there have been adults quite happy to join in with the children in carrying out the activity. It is unsurprising then that finally a publisher has produced books for adults to colour. There are some interesting spin offs.

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In a busy world, increasingly dominated by time spent in front of screens, grown ups are turning to the soothing art of colouring in. But the books we're talking about are not reminiscent of the freebie colouring sheets handed out at chain restaurants that we remember from our childhoods. These are intricately designed books, some created specifically to help you de-stress and focus the mind.

Can we really find relief in colouring carefully in between the lines? Hephzibah Kaplan, director at the London Art Therapy Centre thinks so.
“When choosing a colouring-in book with more complex or abstract images the convention is generally to keep different colours within different lines. This requires a relaxed focus where the outline is containing and the mark-making repetitive and smooth. So a bit like repeating a mantra where repetition is a means to relaxation, colouring-in is also a type of mediation.”
She added: “Meditation, whether secular or otherwise, has known benefits to mind, body and spirit. When focusing deeply on a simple yet safe task, other anxieties become less present, less pervasive.”
So that is the theory and you can see the reasoning behind what she is saying so having used the much criticised, non-taxpaying search engine Google (excuse the political dig), I wasn't altogether surprised that all major booksellers are advertising this type of book online as well as in their stores. The latest to be advertised are colouring books by Mills and Boon.
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Mills and Boon, who have been the butt of many mickey takes over their romantic bent, have produced the Art of Romance.
The publisher said it records "the most iconic Mills & Boon moments since it was founded in 1908".
Adult colouring books have been a publishing success over the past 12 months, with five currently in the UK's top 50 book chart.
"Colouring is a key trend in publishing at the moment, and as a heritage brand, with our archive of over 100 years of iconic covers, we were spoiled for choice in creating the book," Lisa Milton, of Mills & Boon publisher Harlequin, said.



"In bringing together the vintage covers, snippets of social history and utterly fabulous fashions across the decades, I can't think of a better way to tell the story of Mills & Boon than through The Art of Romance."
So you can justify buying one of these, if you feel that you need to, by referring to stress busting and social history.
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Of course the real point is that we are talking about people buying books. Books is the operative word. It is an encouragement to people to go into bookshops and spend and way back when raising my own children buying this type of book was part of the process of getting them interested in reading. There is no reason why it shouldn't be as relevant today for adults as it was when they were five years old.
God Bless