I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue by Ruth Krauss (illustrations by Maurice Sendak) tells the story of a young boy who dreams of painting his bathroom blue, kitchen yellow, ceilings green, etc. He imagines what his ideal home would look like, all in the context of being informed by his father that he can’t paint his bathroom blue.

The story provokes thinking about the relationship between color and our perceptions and moods, and the role color can play in imagination. What do certain colors allow us to imagine that we couldn’t imagine otherwise? Why are colors so important to us? We often identify things by their colors, but are the colors really in the objects, or just in us? Do different colors have different emotional effects on us?

In the story the boy comments that he will “make a house the kind I dream about not the kind I see.” He uses colors to construct the world in which he would like to live, noting that he’d have a “house like a rainbow” and someday make an ocean. How does color help him to dream about things he had not actually perceived?

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