Hello, this is Jane G. Meyer, and I’m so pleased to be with you today. Today I am reviewing Orthodox Coloring Books. My oldest child, Andrew, is on the verge of turning eighteen this summer. He is readying himself for college and already showing signs of an independent life. He certainly has an independent spirit. He is a marker for so many things in our family’s life, since he was our first child and because we came to Orthodoxy only a little after he was born.
For all the years of my mothering, I’ve been looking for ways to help our children better understand their Christian faith. When Andrew was just a baby, the Internet was in its infancy. Can you believe that? Just think, there weren’t bloggers who shared their stories of raising children in an Orthodox home back then. There weren’t coloring pages of the Feasts you could download in a heartbeat from the Archdiocese. And I certainly didn’t have an entire bookshelf filled with children’s stories that all had that Orthodox flavor.
Times have changed, and it feels as though the little Orthodox books for kids snowball has only started to increase in size and girth as it makes its way down the hill. I’m excited for the families who are just now having children, for little Tacy who was baptized only a week ago, and for the six babies and their parents whom I’m praying for each morning. And of course I’m excited for my own children that they may someday have so many resources at their disposal, if they are ever blessed enough with children to cuddle and nurture and to read to.
My focus today is to tell you about coloring resources for little ones. Just about every child enjoys drawing and coloring, and they help develop all sorts of skill in children. Children learn how to communicate visually; the motion helps develop their fine motor skills, and it provides an avenue through the choosing of colors and the use of line and contrast. They also have the opportunity to be decision makers while they’re drawing and develop confidence as they quickly improve.
Of course you can find all sorts of coloring books for your children at grocery stores, at toy stores, at book stores, and at drug stores. Everything from Curious George to ancient Greek myths can be found in coloring book format. But why not teach your kids about the Orthodox Church while they’re deciding whether they like blue crayons or watercolor pencils or markers the best.
For free coloring resources, you can simply type in a search on the Internet for Orthodox coloring pages. You’ll find lots of blogs and links of pages, designed in black and white, that you can print off and give to your child. From specific saints to illustrations of Festal icons, there are many, many to choose from. The quality of these pages isn’t always fantastic, and some of them may be in other languages, but they’re free and available for you to use.
Two of my favorite resources, however, are coloring books that you can purchase and that are designed with themes in mind. Anna Larsen, at www.annalarsenbooks.com, has three coloring books which we enjoy using here in our home. Feasts of the Orthodox Church is a coloring book that takes you through the Church Calendar.
With each Feast, there is a small narrative about the Feast that is only a few sentences long, and below this is an open page with printing lines so that a child can write his or her own reflections down. And then across the fold of the page is a full coloring page that somehow integrates with the Feast. This is not a book of icons to color, like we see so often, but typically a page of Church scenes that a child will relate to.
For example there’s the first page of the coloring book of Feasts of the Orthodox Church is The Elevation of the Cross. And the Cross is on a hill with mountains and a church in the background and rocks and cacti in the foreground. It’s really lovely. The black lines are bold, and there is ample opportunity for creativity for a younger or an older child.
Ms. Larsen’s other two coloring books are also worth looking into. Learn About Vestments is one of my favorites. It’s a lovely book filled with all the various articles of clothing that priests, and deacons, and bishops wear. The pages are thick and white and ready for a little child’s imagination.
The third coloring book available at www.annalarsenbooks.com is titled My Apple Tree. This is more of a workbook for children learning to read and write. Each page has a coloring image at the top and an opportunity to practice writing words and phrases at the bottom. The coloring illustrations have a very Russian country look with little girls wearing long dresses and head coverings and boys being acolytes or fishing or monks building things.
The last resource I’d like to tell you about is Potamitis Publishing. These folks are so busy. They launched this publishing press not very many years ago in Greece, and they’ve already released several hardbound books and more than three dozen coloring books. I can’t say enough good things about these coloring resources.
Each book is well-designed, printed on quality paper in Greece, and filled with inspiring images and a bit of short text. They have produced books for almost every Orthodox occasion. There’s one coloring book for each month of the year. There is a book on the life of Christ and a separate one on the life of the Theotokos. There’s another book dedicated solely to Paschal activities, another one for Holy Week, another of American Saints, Irish Saints, Alaskan Saints, one about wild animals, and one about wild birds. Really, there are just so many.
Each book includes the coloring pages, but some also have mazes and dot-to-dots. And they’re all printed in both Greek and English, and many have a page of stickers and a foldout icon that accompanies the book as well. Really as parents, aunts, uncles, grand or Godparents, we are so fortunate to suddenly have so many amazing resources available for our children.
You can find out how to purchase Potamitis products by visiting their website at www.orthodoxchildrensbooks.com, or you can contact whomever runs your local church bookstore and ask them to either order books from Anna Larsen or Potamitis Publishing or both. These are great gifts for a birthday or a Feast day or to tuck into a possible basket.
I hope this has been a helpful review of what’s currently available in the world of Orthodox coloring books. Time to get out the colored pencils or markers. I know that I sometimes sneak a page myself and color aside my little one. This is Jane G. Meyer sending you all love in Christ. Christ is Risen. Cheers.