To The Moon by Sarah Yoon only looks like a colouring book at fist glance. In reality it is my secret bedtime reading weapon.
Long gone are the days when I could quietly cuddle one child in my lap, unwinding together at the end of the day. Now, with older children – who seem to have more energy at 7.30pm than at any other time in the day – reading to them can sometimes feel as chaotic and stressful as herding cats.
But I’ve recently stumbled on a a fabulously easy way to calm the kids down and help us all relax whilst I read: colouring-in books, and especially colouring-in books that the girls can work on together at the same time.
To The Moon – which at 15 feet long may well be one of the longest colouring books in the world – is an architectural flight of fancy, a steampunk-fairytale-zoological mashup presented as an impossibly tall and fantastical building stretching all the way from earth to the moon. A perfect mix of details and open spaces, there are space ports, fire-breathing dragons, castles and even shark tanks to explore as the kids colour their way through the atmosphere up to the stars.
The variety of buildings and features is great fun, often eliciting gasps of delight as one child or the other discovers a new funny detail. To The Moon could be brilliantly used as a story starter for creative writing – at home or in school. In fact, I think it offers lots of opportunities for use in the classroom, encouraging co-operation and teamwork. I can just see it: the entire skyscraper coloured in with children’s stories inspired by the incredible structures all along the sides to create the most eye-catching of displays.
Yoon has another mega book out soon (‘To the Ocean Deep’, due out in May) but till then we’ll be happy letting our imagination reach new heights with the beautiful and quirky To The Moon.
Whilst the kids have spent hours and hours colouring in To The Moon, they also have another activity they really enjoy which uses colouring-in pages in a slightly different way – to create multi-coloured wax prints. Here’s how it works:
1. Take a page from a colouring-in book or print off a colouring-in page from the web.
2. Turn the page over (so the image/pattern is face down) and entirely cover the back of the paper with crayon. Wax or oil crayons are great for this. You don’t need to draw anything in particular, just make sure you cover the page, leaving no white gaps.
3. Turn you piece of paper right side up, and place a blank sheet of paper underneath. Now go over the colouring-in design with a pencil or biro, pressing fairly hard.
4. Lift up your colouring-in design to reveal the wax print you’ve created:
We love the results this activity gives!
I’d normally give music recommendations at this point but as the girls have been listening to my dulcet tones as they colour, I haven’t got any for this post. Fortunately for you there are no recordings of me available, but if you want some fabulous audio books to listen to with your kids I can recommend:
Other activities you could try inspired by To The Moon include:
Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.