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Adult Coloring Books Rise in Popularity With Social Coloring Groups

More adults are using coloring books to relax -- and to socialize

Adults getting caught up in the coloring craze now have new and more social ways to do it: through libraries and meet up groups. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016)

Adults caught up in the coloring book craze now have new and more social ways to participate: through libraries and meetup groups.

Libraries across the country are holding adult coloring programs more and more in response to the spike in interest, according to the American Library Association, including New York City, Denver and Milwaukee. There are also groups popping up through Meetup.com.

"People just love this. I think they feel successful, like they've finished something," said Jane Henze, the adult-programming director at DeForest Public Library near Madison, Wisconsin. "The neat thing about it, as far as stress goes, you're concentrating on something, you're not thinking about what's going on at home or at work."

She started the library's free program this summer with colored pencils, snacks and photocopied images after seeing the success at another nearby library. They now do it twice a month, with between 11 and 16 people. So far, it's been mostly middle-aged women, although two men attended.

The popularity of coloring is evident when you walk into any bookstore, many of which have coloring books prominently displayed. This month coloring books took up the top 10 spots on the New York Times best-selling list of games and activities, up from nine in December.

Carrie Danhieux-Poole, art therapist at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, said art therapists use coloring as an easy way to get people into other forms of art.

"They feel more focused, they feel more relaxed, maybe they report any anxiety they might have been experiencing having decreased with the adult coloring," she said.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, a healthy living group that organizes through Meetup.com tried coloring for the first time at a local restaurant this month. Eight people showed up, their best attended gathering yet. They also have a waiting list for the next one.

One of the participants, Sophie Dangtran, 60, started coloring a few years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's now in remission and recently picked it up again — with different results.

"I find the healthier I get, the more colorful my designs are," she said.

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Associated Press writer Allen Breed contributed to this report. 

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