Terrorism Coloring Books Are the Wrong Way to Teach Kids About the World

There's no question that a great many kids learn best when they use their hands and create something. I can speak until the cows come home to my daughter about a cube, for example, but the day she built one using her magnetic shapes was the day she truly understood what one was. Same goes for reading about history in a book versus taking a trip to Ground Zero and letting your child feel the enormity of what happened on 9/11.

I'm guessing (maybe?) the same idea was behind the creation of a new set of coloring books aimed at little kids that allows them to use their fave crayon shades to color pics of Islamic terrorists, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, AND a crucified Christian, beneath which reads the message: "This is what ISIS wants to bring to America and its people. What are you going to do when they come for you?"

Color them Mango Tango while I drink my Capri-Sun because I'm 6?


Really Big Coloring Books founder Wayne Bell says the purpose of the coloring books is simply to educate the country about a "brutal people." The books have titles like "The True Faces of Evil -- Terror" and "The Terror Update on Global Jihad" and even include terrorist trading cards. The company has sent copies of the books to all 50 states' Departments of Education, and there's some talk of making them a part of schools' curricula, which should make for an interesting topic of debate at PTA meetings.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for educating our children about current events, and I don't see the benefit of sugarcoating what is going on in the Middle East. But there's something so trivial about turning our war on terrorism into something you can doodle on. I can't put my finger on it, but it feels disrespectful to the many, many people -- both Americans and foreigners and children -- who have lost their lives since 9/11.

Bell cautions parents to only let their children flip through the books in their company because, obviously, the material is super-sensitive. But isn't there a better way to teach kids what's going on? A way that doesn't turn it into a game where cards are traded? Or using a coloring book that (vaguely) suggests children should join the armed forces because how else can a 12-year-old boy answer the question, "What are you going to do when they come for you?"

What's wrong with reading a newspaper to them? Explaining what's going on to them? And then answering their questions in a way that doesn't make this seem like some epic superhero movie.

What do you think about these terrorism coloring books? Would you buy one for your child?


Image via John Morgan/Flickr

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