Adult coloring books have grown into a significant segment within the publishing market, and spirituality book publishers are picking up on the trend.
Laura McKendree, national marketing representative of Paraclete Press, a spirituality book publisher in Orleans, MA, says doodling with crayons can be a pathway to prayer.
Paraclete Press put out its first book in that category, "Praying In Color" in 2007. It quickly became a bestseller for the publisher. The press has put out six other spiritual-theme coloring books in just the past year.
McKendree said many adults are drawn to coloring books as a way to "de-stress." She said publishers like Paraclete felt "adding a spiritual element was key."
"The world we live in today is fast-paced. A lot is thrown at people during the day. Coloring is a meditative process. People are drawn to it because you sit down and you slow your brain down, and as you start to color, your thoughts just flow," McKendree said.
When people are "breathing a little easier, that is a place where God can speak to you," she added.
Adult coloring books have been out for quite some time, often with themes related to pop culture, such as the "Game of Thrones" coloring book, based on the cult TV-series. Ones with spiritual themes are a newer phenomenon.
Sybil MacBeth's "Praying in Color:Drawing a New Path to God" was one of the first books Paraclete published connecting drawing with prayer.
"We found Sybil was almost ahead of her time in terms of coloring as a way to de-stress and re-connect with God," McKendree said. The author now conducts workshops based on her books across the country.
Another more recent book, "Words of Faith," offers a Scripture quote and accompanying illustration to color.
"You can repeat the Scripture verse as you color, repeating it, meditating on it," McKendree said.
Several of the coloring books put out by Paraclete come with meditative music -- often Gregorian chant -- sung by monks.
McKendree said the combination of the music and coloring "calms the mind even more."
"Gregorian chant is plainsong. It's very simple and can help quiet the buzz going on in your mind and the chaos in your day, and center your thoughts and center your focus," she said.
"It brings a quietness of spirit so you can open your heart to whatever God has for you."
McKendree said such coloring books sell especially well in hospital gift shops, and Paraclete plans an upcoming coloring book to promote "physical and spiritual healing."
"Coloring can help whether someone is in the hospital waiting for someone who is having surgery, or whether you are someone in the hospital having treatment," McKendree said.