Crayola, the premiere crayon-brand and awe-maker of children across the world, finally chose the name for their new “blue” hue after months of online polling. That crayon, which is replacing the criminally underrated “Dandelion” shade which is being phased out after 27 years of service, is now named “Bluetiful.” Cute, short, punchy, what’s not to like?
Well, apparently to some Twitter users and those in the outrage-sphere, quite a bit. Instead of focusing their energy on more dire concerns, like the public school nursing crisis, they have taken to Twitter to fight against Crayola’s new addition. One Twitter user quipped, “Of thousands Eng & foreign words for new blue hue, @Crayola mangles real word, fails at teaching kids color name AND spelling.” Others, though, delighted in the punny portmanteau: “Just red that Crayola’s new color is #bluetiful. Is it really something to yellow bout? Sorry for the ‘orangible puns. Really. I’m Sorry.”
Those who expressed outrage mostly did so because they feared what nonsense words might do for youngsters’ reading comprehension. However, nonsense words are a common educational tool, particularly for young kids who are just learning how to read. In fact, tests using nonsense words are prevalent both in the United Kingdom and United States. While some of the critics of these tests claim that having kids read aloud and pronounce nonsense words like “blorp” and “firt” is merely “teaching for a test,” the University of Oregon maintains that “Nonsense Word Fluency” is a helpful way to teach children how to read. Not only does it encourage kids to associate letters with sounds, but it also helps them use those individual sounds to form words — even if the words have no meaning.
Studies have attempted to gauge the link between children using and understanding their first words and their relationship with their parents. Iconicity, which one paper describes as a person representing the word itty bitty by using an “index finger-to-thumb pinching gesture, or by raising the pitch of their voice” is also a major indicator of how we begin to understand the world around us. There is plenty of research that suggests that children learn words by the connection between the sounds of the words and then will create a corresponding meaning.
So, no, Crayola’s “Bluetiful,” is not the beginning of the end for kids who are learning to read and color. In fact, it may help them figure out how to associate sounds with letters, pronounce words, and associate colors with beauty. At the very worst, it will just be the name of a crayon.