Coloring for kids is one of the most perfect ways to pass the time (a diaper bag must have). Relatively mess-free (as long as junior stays on the paper) and open to wherever the imagination takes them, we are hard pressed to find kids who don’t know the joys of coloring. Coloring books are available in so many varieties— activity books for kids, printable coloring pages, themed PDF packets to download, and even digital coloring options— that there really is something for every type of kid. Sites like BIC’s Kids Website even offer printable coloring sheets for a variety of themes if you ever run out. They have Mother’s Day cards, fun cut-out coloring and folding activities, specific themes like unicorn coloring pages, and connect-the-dots activity books that’ll help teach them how to draw a dog, a flower, and more!
But with so many options on the market how do we know which hard copy coloring books for kids are really our best bet? One of the most important things we need to assess when choosing a kids coloring activity book is the quality of the paper. Remember the devastation of markers bleeding through anyone? (Now as the mom, think of that on the dining room table). It’s not pretty. You also have to choose the images themselves. Your kids might find an image of a thick-lined baby tiger quite boring compared to one with a lot of finite details (same for us when it comes to adult coloring books). However, for our littlest kiddos simpler and thicker lines are better. A good rule of thumb is the bigger the kids get, the bigger their coloring books get.
Sure we could all aimlessly browse Amazon’s coloring books for hours, but seriously who has that kind of time? Not to worry, we have compiled the 11 best coloring books and kits for kids of all ages to enjoy. Just don’t forget the markers or crayons!
Best Coloring Books for Toddlers
For toddlers coloring isn’t about triggering relaxation, we’re lucky if they can even figure out which end writes. When they do figure that out, look out – Coloring becomes an activity no longer just for paper. Walls, chairs, it’s all fair game. Melissa & Doug Water Wow coloring books take away curious creation anywhere other than the book.
Each spiral bound pad includes four reusable coloring pages and a refillable water pen. Simply fill the pen with water and let your LO color their heart out. As the pages get wet, a fun and colorful image appears. When the water dries, the picture disappears and is ready to be colored again.
One reviewer writes, “As a grandma to 9 grandkids, five of them aged 3 and under, I’ve purchased these many times to entertain the young ones when we’re on trips, out at restaurants or just having fun at home. The kids easily handle the chunky brush. I notice their dexterity improves, too, as they use it. On each page, there are items to ‘find’ and count, which hones another skill for them. Even on a cross country flight, the only ‘mess’ that could happen is for a little water to leak out if they’re zealously ‘painting.’ No big deal. I recommend these Water Wow books… especially for fidgety 2 year olds!”
Sometimes toddlers want to hang their work up on the fridge like their big brother or sister. We need a way for them to do that without wearing more marker than the page. The Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Kit is exactly how we do this. Color Wonder markers only work on the special paper, so even if our kiddo goes a little crazy coloring, it won’t show. The markers are labeled with the color they show on the paper, so kids still learn their colors at the same time. The very best part about these markers, they don’t dry out – EVER! That’s right you can spend less time monitoring the caps and more time coloring too.
One reviewer remarked, “This is the greatest gift to moms everywhere! My daughter (18 months when she received this) loves coloring with these markers, and they do not make a mess anywhere since they will not write on anything but the Color Wonder paper. Not our white couch (yes, we’re crazy enough to have a white couch with a toddler), not the walls, not the carpet, hands, anywhere.”
The 123 things Big & Jumbo Coloring Book by Salmon Sally literally has 123 pages worth of entertainment and coloring! Suggested for kids ages 2-4, this coloring includes HUGE images of animals, fruits, vegetables, nature, and more. One mama said on Amazon, “My toddler gets overwhelmed with too much detail and the simple, large pictures, have remedied that issue. It’s also been instrumental in helping him learn how to color within the lines while he’s still developing the muscles in their hands. Coloring pages with small pictures are discouraging since he hasn’t yet developed the control to color in small spaces.”
Best Coloring Books for Preschoolers
Filled with 200 pages of chunky thick black lined coloring images, the My First Big Book of Coloring from Little Bee Books is a must have on the craft table. Thick lines make it easier for kids to stay within the lines, but also make the images more simplistic. This is the perfect combination for kids just starting out trying to get their fine motor skills in shape. Bright white, good quality thick paper means our littles can use their favorite crayons and markers to color the double sided images for as long as their hearts desire with no bleed through.
Pro-tip for this book is to crack the spine since it’s so large. That way our kiddos can easily color both sides of the page without having to wrestle with the book. The actual images this book features are perfect for teaching preschoolers new words and phrases while keeping them busy long term. Yes this means you might actually get to flip the laundry AND start dinner without company!
More than just coloring, the Melissa & Doug Dot-to-Dot Coloring Pad is also an activity book for kids ages 3 and up. In these formative years learning letters and numbers is fun and engaging. (We think this counts as a homeschooling activity.) Each of the 40 partially colored pages includes connect the dot alphabet letters or numbers up to 50 and a seek and find activity. Once the kids finish the lines there’s an animal image in front of them to color in. The images showcase wild animals in their natural habitats, providing a little bit of science education as well. We also support the decision to just hand them a marker and let them go to town on their own!
Little hands can also benefit from uniquely shaped crayons. These triangular shaped crayons from Melissa & Doug won’t roll away on your little ones and are a little easier to hold onto then the regular sized ones.
Best Coloring Books for Kids Age 5-8
The I Am Confident, Brave & Beautiful Coloring Book from Hopscotch Girls is 22+ pages of encouragement and motivation while your little one (suggested ages 3-8) is having fun and getting creative. Coloring images include nature, animals, science scenes, astronauts, gardening, swimming, math equations, and much more! One parent reviewer on Amazon said, “Such a cute book! I’m a dad that loves his little 6 year old girl and wants her to know how amazing she is! She colors this book, we read it together and we color it together. It has great little pictures that are relevant to the sayings on each page. Very positive book, more coloring books should be like this.”
The Space Coloring Book for Kids by Blue Wave Press is a fun way for your kids to explore and learn about outer space. The coloring book includes full-page drawings of planets, astronauts, spaceships, aliens, and more. One reviewer on Amazon said, “This coloring book is great for any space loving kiddo. It is a good quality paper and each picture is just one sided. It kept my little guy busy on the plane for an hour.”
Founded almost 45 years ago, Klutz books are what all of us mamas remember from our childhood. Braids & Bows anyone? Scholastic Kids describes Klutz books by saying, “By combining crystal-clear instructions, premium materials, and a healthy dose of fun, each kit builds creative confidence while encouraging hands-on learning.” The Klutz Coloring Cute Toy is no exception.
One of our favorite features is the coloring tips instruction. Kids this age know how to color, but these tips make them think about their choices of pencil to paper. We know this is supposed to be a relaxing activity but good design tips for kids are hard to come by.
This colored-pencils-included-coloring book has perforated pages making the kids creations easy to tear out and hang up. Postcard prints are also included to send a little snail mail cheer to friends. Great for gifting or keeping your own kiddos entertained for hours, the designs in this book are cute, cute, cute!
Kids love to save all their hard work (think of the overcrowded fridge), which is why we love the Mudpuppy Coloring Roll. Featuring 10 feet of continuous images showing animals of the world, our kids create and save their work at the same time. The roll is easy enough to work on one section at a time and roll it back up when done for the day. The box comes with six crayons, which means this can be opened and used as soon as the Amazon delivery truck appears.
One mom shared her favorite way to use this was to, “put it down along the table at a birthday party and let all the kids go to town while waiting for pizza and cake.” When they’ve finished, our kids (okay our playroom) will end up with a 10 foot long mural to hang on the wall. What’s more fun than that?
Best Coloring Books for Kids Age 8 & Up
Need to keep the kids busy for hours at a time? The MindWare Mystery Mosaics Coloring Book Set is how we do it. Perfect to do with their friends over FaceTime, the MindWare Mystery Mosaics series is a fun way to encourage cooperative play. The kids won’t even realize they’re working on high-level cognitive skills. It’s our little secret…
This set includes two books and a box of 36 colored pencils which coordinate with each page’s instructions. Each page includes a color by number image. As you color the image gets revealed into very cool looking art. More than just an exercise in relaxation, these books engage the mind through puzzles and mystery. Honestly, we won’t be surprised if you use one book for yourself while your little one takes the other. These sheets are so fun it will be hard to just watch!
Guaranteed to keep your tweens busy all day, the 3D Coloring Puzzle Set from DDMY will give them a much needed break from technology. This six pack puzzle set comes complete with 24 brightly colored markers and all the benefits of both coloring and puzzles for kids.
This is a two phase activity for kids. The first phase is the coloring and design part. Intricately detailed designs create that destress relaxation that kids love about coloring. When they’re done they move into phase two, which is assembly. The model building will teach patience and organization as our kiddos figure out which piece goes where. The end result is a unique piece of art that can be displayed anywhere in the house.
One reviewer wrote, “My son received the full set of these for Christmas. We were in the midst of a subzero cold snap and he spent the whole day working on it. It kept him fully entertained and the final products were very cool. Consequently, I ordered a few of the 4-packs so that I could have them on hand for birthday parties. We have gifted one so far. Overall, the product is excellent.”
Looking for more ways to entertain your creative kids? Check out all of our mom approved kid’s toy recommendations for of hours of entertainment.