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Crafts  :   What does a skunk smell look like anyways?

I've never been a big fan of traditional coloring books. Too much pressure to stay between the lines and color things the "right color". Good skills to have I'll admit but not always the most satisfying for some kids.   If this sounds like your child, then we've found a few great drawing books they are sure to enjoy.

These books never say you must draw something a certain way or that the sky must be blue (my daughter's sky was always pink).  Instead they set up starting points for your child's creativity and let them fly from there.  

For example in The Anti Coloring Book your child will be met with the newspaper headline "Martians Land on Earth" and a blank space for them to draw the accompanying picture.  Or they might be asked "What would it look like if you could see what a skunk smelled like?"  Great jumping off points for some amazing drawings.  

Two similar books Scribbles and Doodles by children's book illustrator Taro Tomi each have nearly 400 pages for your child to stretch their imagination.

Now while these creative coloring books are great, some kids really do want to know how to draw realistic looking pictures.  They want to learn how to draw trucks and princesses and lions to put in these great coloring books. At right we've recommended a few books for those times when your child (or you) doesn't want his airplane to look like a flying banana (mine!).

The first two, D is for Doodle and Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered, give instruction but still call for some creativity.  The Ed Emberley books break down each object shape by shape, making it easy for anyone (even me) to draw recognizable pictures.  His books have been around since I was a kid, and I remember spending hours drawing aided by his tips.

But whichever way your child draws, free form or realistic,  remember not to ask that age old question --"What is it?"  This question often deflates the young artist. Instead try "Tell me about your picture", which encourages excitement, elaboration and hopefully some clues to what the subject actually is.

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