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9 Modern Coloring Books Without A Single Character From Disney, Pixar, Or Nickelodeon

Coloring benefits your child’s tiny, developing mind in so many ways. A box of crayons and a good coloring book can teach them gripping, hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, color and shape recognition, and what blue ducks look like. What’s more, coloring is an activity you can do with them forever; there are books designed for every age, stage, and learning philosophy (“Don’t you tell my kid to stay in the lines!”), and coloring books for adults are even a thing these days. With this collection, neither of you have anymore excuses to draw all over the dog.

The Color Play-Coloring Bookfatherly_the_color_play_coloring_book_momaThis book is ginormous, which is either a clever way to give uncoordinated hands more canvas to play on, or an artistic statement about the vastness of children’s imaginations. It’s from MoMA, so you never can really be sure. At least you’ll know you’re getting a museum-quality product that will encourage a love of art. (Also, it’s cheaper than a $25 ticket to the actual museum).
The Color-Play Coloring Book by The Museum Of Modern Art ($12)
Ages: 4-8

Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginationsfatherly_outside_the_lines_an_artists_coloring_book_for_giant_imaginationsYou don’t need a brother named Andy Warhol to pass the art bug from the masters to your child (although clearly it helps). Indoctrinate your little scenester early with this ingenious volume of original illustrations by contemporary leaders in fine art, animation, illustration, graphic design, video games, and more, including Shepard Fairey and Keith Haring. The world will have you and this book to thank for the next Banksy.
Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations by Souris Hong-Porretta ($13)
Ages: 8+

A Coloring Book By Mike Perry And YOUfatherly_a_coloring_book_by_mike_perry_and_youMike Perry is a painter, illustrator, sculptor, photographer, and teacher (pretty much every kind of “-er”) who has created works for little brands like Nike, MTV, Apple, Playstation, and Starbucks. The book consists of illustrations Perry has done for things like skateboard decks and concert posters, only this time they’ll be even more “raw,” because, frankly, Perry’s understanding of color is a little more sophisticated than your kid’s (no offense).
A Coloring Book By Mike Perry And YOU by Mike Perry ($10)
Ages: 6+

The Indie Rock Coloring Bookfatherly_the_indie_rock_coloring_bookWith challenges like finding hidden birds in Devendra Banhart’s beard or drawing whatever the cool new haircut is on the members of Rilo Kiley, this might be the ultimate self-aware “raise a baby hipster” coloring book. The only problem is, your kid might already think half the 20+ indie artists in it are too mainstream. At least Yellow Bird Project is donating all the royalties to charity.
Indie Rock Coloring Book by Yellow Bird Project and Andy J. Miller ($8)
Ages: 8+

Natural Wonders: A Patrick Hruby Coloring Bookfatherly_natural_wonders_patrick_hrubyPatrick Hruby’s sharp line drawings of various plants, animals, and landscapes will give kids an appreciation for nature and sparse, modern graphic design. The back cover shows all 32 images in their original full-color state for inspiration, which is nice, but you might want to just let your kid do their own thing because again, a blue duck could be the key to passing first grade.
Natural Wonders: A Patrick Hruby Coloring Book by Patrick Hruby ($8)
Ages: 4-8

Squiggles: A Really Giant Drawing And Painting Bookfatherly_squiggles_a_really_giant_drawing_and_painting_bookAs so many Amazon reviewers have noted, Squiggles isn’t a coloring book like the ones you grew up with. In fact, the pictures are pretty sparse and almost amateurish looking. The genius is that those seemingly simplistic doodles come with equally simplistic instructions that free your kid’s mind to do what kids’ minds do best: create.
Squiggles: A Really Giant Drawing And Painting Book by Taro Gomi ($14)
Ages: 3-7

The Coloring Bookfatherly_the_coloring_book_herve_tulletSo confident is Hervé Tullet in his challenge-packed book of intellectually and creatively stimulating designs, doodles, original characters, and other coloring and drawing activities that he simply called it The Coloring Book. No comic book or fairy tale characters here; anyone can do mass appeal, but your child is an intellectual. They’ll be scoffing at the sneaker-wearing cretins at the gallery in no time.
The Coloring Book by Hervé Tullet ($19)
Ages: 3-6

The Wuggly Ump And Other Delightsfatherly_the_wuggly_ump_and_other_delightsThough his contemporaries Shel Silverstein and Maurice Sendak were equally demented, Edward Gorey’s dark humor — like a book that starts with 3 children singing on a hill and ends with them singing inside a Wuggly Ump — might absent from your kid’s bookshelf. This collection of 22 illustrations will familiarize them with Gorey’s twisted work. No other book on this list is even half as wuggly.
The Wuggly Ump And Other Delights by Pomegranate and Edward Gorey ($7)
Ages: 3+

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt And Coloring Bookfatherly_secret_garden_coloring_bookHowever extreme your view on adult coloring books — whether you’ve enrolled in adult preschool or are demanding those people get off your lawn (and stop eating your grass) — they’re having a moment and this one started it all. Credit Johanna Basford for creating gorgeous, intricate illustrations (and moving 2 million copies), but just know that if you ignore your kid’s coloring in favor of your own, you’ve moved past “therapeutic” into “seek therapy.”
Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt And Coloring Book by Johanna Basford ($10)
Ages: 8+