My 1 1/2 year old daughter loves to color and read books. When I get home from work and picking them up from daycare, our time is precious if I want to have dinner on the table at a reasonable time.
We have a long coffee table in our living room that I have converted into her own "library". (My 4-year-old has started to make some of this space his own too.) Instead of putting her in front of the tv, I simply suggest that she go check out her library, and it buys me the 20 minutes I need to make dinner. She moves from coloring page to coloring page. When she is done coloring, she grabs a book, sits on the couch, and checks it out.
I rotate books and coloring pages periodically. (Don't put too many crayons on the table or you will spend a lot of time picking up crayons.)
I find her at the table throughout the night without being prompted to go there.
Try to find a spot that you can set aside for your kids that will help encourage this type of activity.