This post is about how I developed the coloring and activity book about school buses.
You can order a copy on Amazon:
Read on to learn more about how I created the book !
It’s the middle of the holiday season and my mind is turning towards gifts for my family. My youngest is autistic, and if you know anything about them, they tend to have narrow interests. That makes it challenging to find gifts for him. He loves school buses, pizza, Pentatonix and potato chips. I searched the internet and found a couple things like this cute pencil case:
I’ll fill it with his favorite chocolate and stick it in his stocking. But what could I get him for a Christmas gift? I was stumped. We’ve gotten him all sorts of school bus toys. We had so many that at one point, I donated them to the school.
Finally, I got the idea to make him a coloring book. I was initially going to buy one, but the ones on Amazon didn’t get the best reviews. I wanted him to love the book I got him. I wanted to see him fill the pages with color.
My first challenge was figuring out what to put in the coloring book. It gets boring and repetitive if you’re just coloring a school bus for 30-40 pages. Not to mention you’ll wear out the poor yellow crayon. Just think of what it had to say in The Day The Crayons Quit. Don’t wear it down to a nub.
This was also my first time creating a coloring book. I studied the ones that my son colored through, just to understand its structure. I decided it needed a storyline, even just a basic one that carries through the book. A storyline makes it more cohesive.
My first page, which also became a book cover, was a bus riding down the street.
I wanted to call it “Oh The Places It Goes”. But it sounded too much like the Dr. Seuss book. Then I wanted to call it “Oh What Fun It Is To Ride”. But my husband thought it was too long. So in the end I called it “Oh What Fun To Ride!”.
Then I started to think about where the bus travels. which is basically through the neighborhood to school and back. Was there more to it? And why do some kids, like my son, love school buses so much? Is it the bright and happy yellow color? Is it feeling like you’re going on a trip every time you step on? I don’t think it’s because riding the bus is an exciting thrill ride, speeding down the street (unless you’re Keanu Reeves at the wheel). Rather it’s the opposite, with the bus stopping every other block or so. Maybe part of the fun is seeing your friends and classmates join you each step of the way. And maybe, just maybe, once you step on the bus, you’re in a parent-free zone and feel a bit of independence. The more I thought about it, the more I started to understand the appeal of the school bus. It’s the transition between the home and school environment. It’s about the ride, and anticipating what’s at the end of it.
I decided to do a “day in the life” of a school bus. I sketched out scenes of the bus going on field trips to the pumpkin patch, zoo, camp, amusement park and other places. I drew a scene of the bus driving in rainy weather, with kids walking around in umbrellas. The illustrator in me started to get very detailed, like in the downtown scene. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a kids coloring book and to keep it simple. Haha.
I also decided to make it more interesting and interactive by adding mazes and complete-the-scene prompts. It became an activity book as well as a coloring one. I hope whoever uses it will find it engaging. Coloring and activity books are a great alternative to screens and video games. It spurs creativity and helps those gross motor skills. It’s also a simple activity you can do with your child. You can color together, assist them with the prompts, and help them out if they’re stuck in a maze.
Coloring books are also portable. Take it to the car, the restaurant, the doctors office. And you never need batteries! Just a good set of Crayola crayons. They’re the best brand for coloring. I love to get the huge sets with every hue of the rainbow. I’ve loved them every since I was a little girl.
I enjoyed making this book and seeing it come together. It was a different process I’ve never done before. I didn’t have to color in, add shade and texture. I didn’t have to be mindful about keeping the color schemes consistent from page to page. I just had to draw outlines in black.
The coloring book is 8.5 x 11 inches and has 40 pages. It has single-sided pages, meaning that there isn’t an image on the back. I wasn’t sure how thin the pages would be, and if coloring on the front would show through the back. Kids can color with crayons and markers. They won’t have the color bleeding through the page. And they can also tear out the page to hang on the wall.
A school bus lover would enjoy the book. The target age range is maybe older kids in elementary school. I tried to capture what a kid would find fascinating and love about school buses. I drew scenes that I thought would align with their interests. Preschoolers might enjoy it but would need the assistance of an adult. If anything, it gives them a preview of what to expect in elementary school.
You can order a copy on Amazon:
I’d love to hear your feedback and what you thought about the coloring book. Comment below, or review it on Amazon. Or both! Since this is my first, I’m sure there is much room for improvement. I’d appreciate hearing what you have to say.