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Why Are Adult Coloring Books a Thing?

You probably know an adult, or someone who is old enough to count as an adult, who colors in coloring books. Maybe your aunt is always trying to give you coloring pages or you have friends with stacks of pre-drawn pages hidden away. Maybe you want nothing more than to sit down with your markers or pencils and add color to a picture you’ve had your eye on. In any case, you’ve probably noticed that coloring books for adults have exploded in popularity. Why?

coloring
Why are adult coloring book a thing? Source: Pixabay

Some fads are inexplicable. Others may be mysterious but come with some compelling evidence to their beneficial qualities or helpfulness. Coloring books marketed to adults fall in the latter category.

I can’t say why now is the era of the adult coloring book, but I have a few reasons to be grateful for the trend.

Coloring books are fun. This needs no explanation.

Coloring has been proven to have a boatload of health benefits, mostly related to reducing stress. However, health benefits also include exercising fine motor skills and practice focusing the mind. Coloring books have been “prescribed” as far back as Carl Jung, as noted in this Fox News article and this Huffington Post article.

To take a quote from Medical Daily on coloring and art therapy:

“Research shows this form of therapy often has tangible results. One 2006 study, for example, found that mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. Another study from the same year concluded that after only one hour of art therapy, adult cancer patients of all ages “overwhelmingly expressed comfort” and a desire to continue with the therapy.” – Dana Dovey, Medical Daily

Coloring books allow adults who never considered themselves artistically gifted a chance to express themselves through color and art. It’s artistic and creative, but you don’t need to know how to draw, and so there’s less pressure. The post notes that there are experts who consider coloring books to be therapeutic but not “art therapy”, but the proven benefits of adults coloring still remain.

The explanations for the very tangible physiological responses to coloring vary. Some say it is due to repetition and attention to patterns and detail associated with coloring that cause the brain to calm itself. Others say that focusing on color and image helps people replace negative or stressful thoughts with pleasant ones.

This post contains affiliate links. If you buy any of these products using my links, I get paid at no extra cost to you!

hair-coloring
Source: I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos” target=”_blank”>Amazon

Among a few that I own, “I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos” target=”_blank”>I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos” stands out as one of my favorite. It’s cute, there are tons of patterns and little things to color, and it shows off hair of all kinds of textures, styles, curls, braids, and dos.

cthulhu-coloring
Source: Cthulhu’s Coloring Book and Necronomicon of Sunny Day Doings” target=”_blank”>Amazon

I’ve also been eyeing “Cthulhu’s Coloring Book and Necronomicon of Sunny Day Doings” target=”_blank”>Cthulhu’s Coloring Book and Necronomicon of Sunny Day Doings” by Phil Velikan. I’m a sucker for Cthulhu and the eldritch within our primordial depths.

bowie-coloring
Source: David Bowie: Starman: A Coloring Book” target=”_blank”>Amazon

And I know I have a friend who would love this “David Bowie: Starman: A Coloring Book” target=”_blank”>David Bowie: Starman: A Coloring Book”. 

As someone who has several chronic illnesses, coloring helps me feel calm and creative and make pretty things to put on my walls even when I’m not feeling good. It’s fun and helps calm my nervous system down, and unlike tv or movies, it’s a fairly quiet activity. But even when my symptoms aren’t too bad, I find that I just love coloring.

I tend to use markers over any other kind of coloring utensil, and I have yet to find my favorite kind.

Any coloring book suggestions? Perhaps favorite markers?

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Personalized Children’s Books

Personally, I love children’s stories and picture books, so it isn’t as if I needed an excuse to read them, but now I have lots of reasons. I spend a lot of time with Pre-K children and will for the rest of the school year, so I think a lot about children’s stories.

The building blocks of vocabulary for children often come from concrete objects or things that they see or feel in their daily lives (I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere. Feel free to send me sources if I’m wrong). Little kids love hearing a word in a book and being able to find that word in the pictures in the book or on their own person. That’s why a huge part of my job in promoting future literacy is reading books to children and talking about the pictures and asking the kids to tell me if they can relate to the words.

Which brings me to the folks over at Lostmy.name. They create a personalized children’s book about a little boy or girl who loses their name. You pick the name of the child and the story is different each time based on the name!

lostname

I began to create one for my nephew to see what it would look like. It took about 30 seconds before I was looking at a preview of an awesome, personalized book for him. You can create one here!

I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at children’s literature, especially because I love illustrating and painting, and the vision at Lostmy.name is inspiring to me. They’re also hiring, in case any other aspiring children’s lit or illustrator people are looking.

This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I just came across their site on Pinterest and thought it was a great idea! Let me know if you’ve ordered one!

My Christmas 2016 Book Wishlist

It’s about the time of year where I panic about what to get my loved ones for Christmas. This year, though, I’m almost done! This must be the first time ever finding gifts for everyone before the 20th of December. Or even the 24th.

Since I’m so on top of my game, I figured I’d help everyone out if they were so inclined to buy me a book for Christmas. I made this list for me, but if you know anyone else who likes YA or fantasy they would probably love these too!

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you buy the product using my link, I get money, and it’s no extra cost to you. I only use affiliate links for products I truly want to promote.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

animals
Buy Animals

I want, with the kind of desperation that comes from seeing a glimmer of my own life in a online synopsis, to read Animals so badly. Two friends have shared their twenties as well as a fair amount of hedonism and bad decisions, but now one friend is “growing up”. What happens when Laura settles down and marries a very responsible, stable man, but Tyler shows no signs of changing pace?

Everyone who has ever grown up with, or perhaps at a different pace, than their friends can surely relate.

Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors: The Discovery and Settlement of the Pacific by K. R. Howe (Editor)

vaka-moana

Why do I want Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors: The Discovery and Settlement of the Pacific? I think learning about the histories of different people is fascinating and help broaden my worldview. Also, unless you live in obscurity where even Disney cannot reach you, you’ve heard about the movie Moana coming out.

There are some mixed reviews (including this one by someone who is Polynesian) about the movie, but it all seems to come out on the positive side. The main character in Moana is Moana, an adventurous teen girl who is the daughter of her father, a Polynesian chief. The movie looks super cute, and this book will help me fill in some historical background for the Polynesian folks it’s based on.

Feral Series by Cynthia Leitich Smith

feral

The Feral series is a YA fantasy about shape-shifters living among us. You can buy all three on Amazon, which is what I would probably do because I hate starting a series and having to wait to find the rest of them! Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), delves into relevant and deep themes through the three books with her sexy shapeshifting characters.

The first volume, Feral Nights (2013), which has characters from her “Tantalize” series (Candlewick), follows Yoshi, a werecat, while he looks for his sister Ruby.. In the second installment, Feral Curse (2014), Kayla must navigate the human world as a werecat in hiding. She also introduces us to an Osage character named Jess who, in the third entry, Feral Pride (2015), shows the painful ostracization of the were-people from humans who see them as a frightening “other”.

I’ve been wanting to read this series since I heard about it on the post “Teen Books by Native Writers to Trumpet Year-Round” by Debbie Reese.

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi

boy-snow-bird
Buy Boy, Snow, Bird

I am extraordinarily intrigued by Helen Oyeyemi and works, though I haven’t read any of it yet. Most of her words whip through dreamscapes and fairy tales, turning the familiar into something uncanny and fascinating.

Boy, Snow, Bird follows Boy, a black woman who escapes her abusive father and moves to Massachusetts and marries a widower, Snow, her step-daughter, and Bird, her son who is unexpectedly born with dark skin. The novel plays with the childhood story Snow White to explore beauty, race, family, and appearances.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

if-i-was-your-girl

I’ll be honest, I creep on authors on Twitter. That’s how I found out about If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (@Mer_Squared if you want to be creepy on social media like me). This book is a teen love story, but I promise you that this teen love story has not been told very often.

 

It would take hours to list all of the books I want to read, but this is a pretty good start. Obviously, this doesn’t even include graphic novels or zines or poetry books or any of the other wonderful readable things in this world.

A Lot of Words

Wow! It’s been a long time since I posted! I really don’t want to turn into one of those blogs who only posts to apologize about how long it’s been since I posted!

There are so very many words in my life right now. I am inundated by a word deluge.

overwhelmed-flood
If words were water, I would be this sign.
overwhelmed-puppies
If words were wriggling and cute, I would be the big doggo surrounded by the little pups.

Right, so there’s a visual estimate of me and the words in my life. Why so many words?

  • I am helping teach preschool children literacy skills.
  • I am teaching in English and Spanish and Somali.
  • This means I’m brushing up on my Spanish and learning basic Somali language vocabulary.
  • November was NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I didn’t reach the goal but I did write 18,150 words. That’s a lot.
  • I’m still reading and writing a bunch, or trying to.
  • I’m also studying Chinese because why give up now?

So that’s a bunch of words, in four different languages. And a lot of time with very young children who benefit a ton from hearing and seeing lots of words.

The number of words spoken to a child has a direct correlation with their literacy skills and their academic success by third grade. Why is third grade important? Third grade is the grade when schools switch from learning to read to reading to learn. That is, schools aren’t teaching kids how to read anymore, they expect them to read to learn about other subjects by third grade.

That means how many words a child hears as a pre-kindergarten child has an effect on their vocabulary, vocabulary growth, and ultimately their enduring language skills as they grow up. You can read the write-up of the study by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley here.

Not only that, but data supports that children flourish under an extremely high ratio of affirmatives, or positive, encouraging words, to prohibitions. I’m shooting for about a 6:1 or 7:1 affirmation vs. prohibition. That’s not always easy when children are literally banging their head on the floor, squirting yogurt, or generally screaming in the classroom, but I try.

Talking to children is extremely important, and it’s a big part of my job. And I get to do it in at least two languages every day (though I do try for all four).

I come home after my morning class and take a two hour nap. And then I learn some more words.

I #AmReading, Are You?

I’ve been reading. I haven’t been writing as much about it, at least not here. You’d never guess that moving across the country, only to have to find new housing, starting a job, and ending that job would be stressful or time consuming! But it was.

Maybe you’ve been missing my writing here on the blog (for all of my, what, ten followers?), but don’t worry I’ll still be updating! In the meantime, if you’d like to know what I’ve been writing over at AmReading.com, you’re in luck, because I’ve put together a list of all my articles thus far. (Disclosure: I do get paid a small amount via page views. Click away, friends.)

6 Books I Wish Had Been Required Reading In High School

5 Books To Help You Really Think About Race

6 Books To Read If You Loved The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Party Hard! How To Throw A Party Totally Hobbit Style

Why Books Make The Best Mentors

Inspirational Pokémon Book To Be Released This Fall

The Mystique, The Criticism, And The Style Of Donna Tartt

Fake Stories And Stolen Identities: A Mini Analysis Of Memoirs

I’m enjoying writing for AmReading. It’s going for a Buzzfeed-esque style centered around books and bookishness. Even the snobbiest snob can’t say that they’ve never indulged in a Buzzfeed link-hole, so why not explore AmReading?

Bonus: an article I didn’t write but wish I had.

Nessie Has Been Spotted?! 11 Mystifying Books Of Sea Monsters

Rereading Pendragon

Sometimes, rarely, I find myself surrounded by books and not wanting to read them. It’s confusing, really. I’ll start a book that only a week ago I was itching to get into just to set it down after a few pages.

When I’m feeling like this, it usually means I’m tired or stressed or not in the mood for something heavy. I LOVE nonfiction, but it can be hard to get interested in facts when my brain doesn’t even want to think too hard about literature. So I knew I wasn’t going to jump into any of my theology or sociology texts this week.

I don’t know why this book slump happens, but I do know how to fix it. I took some tips from my AmReading colleague Ashley Stockburger and decided to reread some favorites.

Hence, Pendragon. This fantasy series kept me occupied for ages while I was growing up. Unfortunately, I was reading them as they got published, and as usually happens, the time between books grew harder to gap. I never finished the series.

nedliz
Most, but not all, of the Pendragon series.

So now I get to! I devoured the first book entirely in one day, and finished reading the second one last night. There’s nothing like following Bobby Pendragon as he flumes from one inter-dimensional territory to the next to prevent the collapse of the universe as we know it.

If you’re thinking about reading them, I fully suggest it. It’s a fun series full of very real human conflict but also inter-dimensional travel and the fate of all time and space. There’s friendship and a bit of romance and fantastical beasts and amazing worlds.

Have a favorite series you just need to reread sometimes? What do you do when you’re in a slump?

How To Read Poetry

I like to think of myself as a person who loves poetry. I even write some! But when I sat down with a book of poetry I realized that I don’t really read much poetry. At all.

Why is this? I’m used to reading things and understanding them. Furthermore, I have a bit of a literal mind. (Killing jokes is one of my hobbies. I swear I think they’re funny, I just extend them through to literal conclusions and then the joke is no longer a joke.)

I think I haven’t read much poetry because it left me clueless and wondering. Sometimes I don’t get it. I thought I was reading poetry wrong and then I remembered that poetry usually isn’t literal. Extending my ideas into concepts that are unfamiliar and unformed is a good thing, though, and there is no better way than with lyrical abstraction. Plus, who doesn’t like pretty words?

So here’s my little guide on how to read poetry for those who are maybe too literal or just haven’t read very much.

  1. It’s ok to not get it.

It's Ok

This was really hard for me to accept. It still is. I like to be good at things, so I feel a bit silly when I don’t “get it” right away. But during my African Literature class with Professor Joseph Mbele (remember I built his website Africonexion), he reminded us that sometimes in poetry or even different kinds of literature you aren’t always going to understand it, especially the first time around. And that’s fine! Try to enjoy the words and sense the feeling.

2. Find words you can relate to.

Find Words

You don’t have to “get it” necessarily, but sometimes you’ll run across a word or a phrase that draws a really vivid picture in your head or reminds you of something you’ve seen or felt. That’s a good thing. Find those words and enjoy them.

3. Get lost. Really lost.

Get Lost

Keep reading and enjoying, and don’t worry if you get lost. I don’t think there’s supposed to be a destination anyway.

There you have it! A foolproof plan for even the least poetic to read poetry.

How to Read Poetry

Yes, You Have a Right to Talk to Women in Headphones

I wasn’t going to talk about the #HowToTalkToAWomanWhoIsWearingHeadphones debacle. I figured the Internet had done a pretty good job ridiculing the idea that men should try to approach women who are wearing headphones, which is a pretty good signal not to talk to them. After all, women repeatedly confirmed that they don’t like this, so surely no one is out there still insisting that a man trying to approach a woman who doesn’t want to be talked to is good behavior, right?

Wrong. There are men out there, men I know, who are still trying to defend the article.

A friend shared the article on Facebook with a comment disparaging the idea of interrupting strangers wearing headphones just because you want to talk to them. Another fellow contested, but wait! What if I’m horny and she’s horny and this is a beautiful situation where a man approaching a woman means good times for everyone?

I don’t know how often this person is in a situation where they want to have casual sex with a stranger, nor is it my business. I do wonder how often he thinks the best stranger to try and meet with for this opportunity is the woman who is wearing headphones. Lots of women enjoy sex and enjoy casual sex. However, if the woman were also looking for casual sex, wouldn’t she also not be wearing her headphones so she could speak with someone?

This seems an awful lot like a man co-opting women’s sexual liberation so that he can have the right to bother women in case they want sex.

Some more people insist that no, this is skeezy.

I said, hey, you know, women are approached all the time by men. It’s not like we usually need to look for situations for men to approach us, in fact, a huge reason women wear headphones in public is so men don’t approach them. I said a (possibly unfair?) statement: “Men are skeezy opportunists who think they have the right to talk to women.” Why did I say that? Because that’s the vibe I get from all the men insisting that it’s ok to talk to women even when they don’t want it, even when they’re uncomfortable, even when they take measures to avoid it.

I was reminded that in the United States of America, anyone has the right to talk to anyone.

Yes, you do have the right. I wasn’t suggesting that we should literally take away men’s freedom to speak with women, although sometimes I privately think about that. Of course everyone has the right to speak with whomever they wish.

Women do not have the same protected right to not be harassed. That’s where the power imbalance comes from. Women are often hurt, harassed, threatened, stalked, stabbed, raped, killed, etc. when they try to turn men down. That’s why we take measures to avoid having men approach us in the first place.

So of course you have the right to speak with someone, even if they don’t want you to. In theory, women also have this right, and they also have the right to turn down unwanted conversation. In practice, it is often infringed, and usually by men.

With all the women out here saying please do not talk to me while I have my headphones on, why are you out here reminding us that you have the right? Like, yes, you have the right to be an asshole. Good for you. Instead, please don’t do that and be a kind, respectful human being.

Can we please talk about the phrase, “…there is not a large enough group of women in the world to change it [my opinion] without showing to me that approaching someone to talk to them is a violent act in itself.” This man is literally saying he does not care how many women say this is an uncomfortable uncool thing. He says it doesn’t matter how many women tell him that this isn’t ok because even so he has the right to make these women uncomfortable. And he does! But that doesn’t mean his behavior isn’t awful. That’s when I stopped commenting on this post, because he said right there that he did not feel the need to listen to women about an experience that women go through.

A little recap on the thread, if you want it in full (I think I have all the screenshots in order):

Women alone in a public place are often uncomfortable. There is good advice warning women to not go places alone, however, what does that say about our men when we can’t let women out alone? Women are constantly looking for a way to stay safe and still live our lives.

The only time I’m not approached by, hollered at, or otherwise uncomfortably engaged with men when I go out in public is when I either a) encounter no men or b) am with another man. I don’t mean smiling, saying hello, holding doors open for me, or other polite things. I have no problem interacting with people. I do have a problem keeping men from engaging me in lengthy, unwanted conversations or pouring their inappropriate affections onto me. That’s why I, and a lot of women, try to keep strange men from approaching us in the first place. Either men can believe me on this, or they can dismiss me. The only way they can know what it’s like to be a woman approached by men is by listening to women talk about it.

Now to get a little personal: I look healthy, but I’m not. It was one thing when men would pay unwanted attention to me when I was fairly able-bodied which, mind you, consisted of my underage teen years. Now that I’m sick to the point of disabled, I can’t run. If a man starts bothering me, I can’t always get up and walk or run away from him, because I’m disabled. I’m terrified of being stuck in an unsafe situation like that, so I try to heed it off before it starts. Hence, headphones.

How else can I keep men from approaching me? I am crowd-sourcing this. Men, women, please let me know if there is an “appropriate” way to keep men from approaching me.

Absolutely, men have the right to try to talk to women wearing headphones. I’m asking men to please, please not do that.

Web Design Debut: Africonexion

Hello, and may I now introduce myself to you as a burgeoning web designer?

I’ve launched my first website thanks to the kindness of my African Literature professor, Professor Mbele. He trusted me with the opportunity to build his website for his cultural consulting business, Africonexion.

 africonexion

If you click this picture you can go to the website! It’s super cool!

I designed the site, the store, and added most of the content. To quote from the site, “Joseph Mbele, the founder of Africonexion, offers cultural orientation to Americans going to Africa as students, volunteers, tourists, and more, as well as orientation to Africans living in the USA. Africonexion has the expertise to help people think about, prepare for, and deal with these cultural differences. Though it is easy to talk about celebrating cultural diversity, Africonexion goes much further, advocating understanding and context of those differences to build mutual respect.”

Professor Joseph Mbele has also written several books in both English and Swahili. I’ll be reviewing one on here soon!

African Literature was an incredible class and it’s over now. So is summer! These last few months have absolutely slipped away. Thanks to all the people who’ve been reading so far!

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