10 best colouring books for kids

School holidays wearing thin? Keep little ones busy with some creative distractions

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The Independent Online

With the onslaught of adult colouring books it’s easy to forget that colouring in is usually an activity for children, but when you get to the stage of the summer holidays where you’ve run out of ideas for day trips, and the money to fulfill them, it’s time to fall back on this old favourite. We found the best colouring books for children (though grown ups can have a go too), that have good-quality illustrations combined with other points of interest, be it facts, activities or a firm favourite, the repetition of your child’s own name. 

1. Galt Fun to Colour: £2.49, John Lewis  


This small book (just 24 pictures) is everything you remember about colouring books from when you were young. It’s made up of simple feel-good pictures including fairies, animals and vehicles, and is small enough to fit in your bag for emergency distraction tactics in cafes, on trains, or wherever needed. Age suitability: 3-6-year-olds.  

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2. Natural History Museum Dinosaur Colouring Book: £4.99, The Natural History Museum Shop


A colouring book and fact book in one, all the boring parts such as the large single colour backgrounds have been done for them already, and just the dinosaurs are left to colour in. Each page has a guide to drawing dinosaurs too, with space where they can try out their new skills. Age suitability:5-10-year-olds.

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3. Melissa & Doug English Alphabet Animal Colouring Pad: £4.48, Amazon


The Melissa and Doug brand makes brilliant toys and arts and crafts sets that can’t fail to make you feel good with their user-friendly qualities and sharp design principles. This jumbo-sized book has multiple objects beginning with the letter of the alphabet corresponding to that page so sneaks in a touch of literacy to your arts and crafts activity too. Age suitability: 4-8-year-olds.

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4. Crayola Colour by Pixel Book: £5, Debenhams


A modern take on colour by numbers, this clever book comes with its own numbered pens, and should appeal to future computer programmers and gamers. though their parents may appreciate the old-fashioned images reminiscent of early arcade games. Age suitability: 5-8-year-olds.

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5. Born Gifted A4 Personalised Colour In Activity Book: £12.99, Born Gifted


We love this personalised colouring book which includes activities such as dot-to-dot as well as colouring in. Your child’s name appears on the cover and throughout the book meaning there can be no arguments about who did what page and went over the lines. Age suitability: 3-6-year-olds.

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6. Indian Patterns To Colour: £5.95, Hive


A beautiful book that taken as a whole could be an entire summer holiday homework project in itself, filled as it is with facts about Indian art and culture alongside lovely patterns to colour. The quality of the paper means this book is suitable for pencils, pens or paint, and if your child gets through the whole book there are plenty more countries in the series. Age suitability: 8-12-year-olds.  

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7. We're Going on a Bear Hunt Colouring Book: £4.79, The Book People


You’ve read the book (five million times), seen the puppet show, made the jigsaw and played the board game. But here is a Bear Hunt spin-off that they can actually do on their own. Now go and have a cup of tea! Age suitability: 2-5-year-olds 

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8. I Love Animals: £3.95, Amazon


I Love Animals is one of those colouring books that works for every age. The many small sections lend themselves to intricate patterns or being ignored, depending on your skill in keeping between the lines and your penchant for realism. In terms of paper quality it’s not the strongest on the list, but it’s cheap, fun, and who doesn’t like crazily coloured animals? Age suitability 5-10-years-olds.

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9. Marvel Spider-Man Mega Colouring Book: £3.99, Hive


If cute animals and pretty patterns don’t float your child’s boat then these 90 pages of Marvel superheroes (and villains), focusing on Spider-man with appearances from his  Team Hero friends, should do the job – all they need is a bit of extra colour to add to the excitement and sense of adventure. It’s not the best paper quality you’ll come across but our spider-man fan tester didn’t seem to mind. Age suitability: 3-10-year-olds. 

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10. Galt Stained Glass Colouring Book: £3.99, Galt


The second colouring book by Galt in this top ten but when it comes to fantastic designs that will please their audience, this is your brand. The stained glass designs range from fairytale castles to fishbowls full of fish (our favourite). The translucent paper means kids can stick their finished work to the window and watch the sun pour through it. Age suitability: From 3, though particularly gratifying for teens and adults when the sun pours in behind your designs. 

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They’re fun, they’re ‘wholesome’, everyone can join in and if you’re lucky they can buy you a bit of quiet time this summer.  Galt’s Fun to Colour is the ideal introduction to the joy of a good colouring book for young children, though our favourite of the colouring books featured is I Love Animals because the wide appeal means it is perfect for all ages. However there is also something pretty special about seeing the sun shine through your designs from the Galt Stained Glass Colouring Book.

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