Stack Overflow: 15 Interactive Books for Kids

Reading Time: 6 minutes

My five-year-old loves books of all sorts, but she’s particularly fond of books that interact with her, whether that involves looking for hidden objects, lifting flaps, or being given silly actions to do while reading the book. Today’s stack is all about interactive books!

Pet This Book and Play This Book by Jessica Young & Daniel Wiseman

This pair of books gets the reader to play along, using rhyming verses and cute illustrations. Pet This Book has you taking care of various animals, petting the cat, giving the dog a bath, and brushing the horse’s mane. There are a couple pages that you can “animate” by flapping them, too. Play This Book turns the book into a series of instruments, from a keyboard to drums to a saxophone. The books themselves don’t actually make noise, but the readers certainly do!

Who Was That? by Olivier Tallec

This book follows Who Done It? and Who What Where?, with goofy illustrations of kids and animals engaged in various activities. This time, it’s about observation. The book shows you a picture and asks a question, and then after you turn the page, asks you a different question about the last picture you saw—while you were busy looking at something else. It’s a clever little game, and helps kids work on their memory as they try to capture as many details as possible before turning the page.

Hungry Bunny by Claudia Rueda

This hungry bunny is out to pick some apples but needs a little help—you’ll be asked to help shake the apples out of the tree, tip the book back and forth to help the wagon roll more easily, and even use the red ribbon bookmark (bunny’s scarf) to help the bunny climb up into the tree. It’s a cute book that draws kids physically into the world of the story. It’s a follow up to Bunny Slopes, which asked the reader to tilt and turn the book for a skiing bunny.

 

My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing by Jo Witek, illustrated by Christine Roussey

This book about gifts has lots of flaps to open and peek behind, as the little girl learns about sharing and the different things that can be gifts: actual presents, sure, but also things like knowledge, making a cake for somebody, or teaching somebody a new game. There’s an emphasis on sharing and how it makes you happy, too—hopefully a message that will sink in for kids who are reading it!

Main Street Magic by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Another lift-the-flap book, this one doesn’t really have a story to read, but is just an exploration of various locations on Main Street, with fun little surprises hidden under the flaps. There’s not a lot of text, but there are some prompting phrases like “what is that under the baker’s hat?” that make you wonder what’s under a flap. There are also a couple of flaps under flaps, which is pretty fun.

The Interactive Art Book by Ron van der Meer and Frank Whitford

This older book is a very cool look at artwork and how it’s made, with lots of flaps to unfold, some pop-up illustrations, and even various things that you can remove from the book to play with, like a phenakistoscope (a bit like a zoetrope) that shows an animation when you spin the wheel. The book explains how perspective is used in paintings, how mobiles are balanced, and the difference between abstract and representational art. Although there aren’t a ton of pages in the book, there’s a lot of info packed into all of the flaps and extras. There’s even an activity book at the back (in case it wasn’t enough interaction already!) so that kids can explore further.

See the Stripes by Andy Mansfield

This book combines flaps to flip with things to find! Each page challenges you to find a stripe of a particular color, and you’ll have to flip, spin, overlap, and pull various flaps and tabs until you find it. Some require clever changes of perspective, and others will need you to unfold things in a particular way to find the stripe. It’s a fun hunt, though you’ll want to help younger kids so they don’t tear important pieces.

Catch Me: A Seek-and-Find Book by Anders Arhoj

Catch Me is a follow-up to Find Me, which I mentioned in a previous Stack Overflow about interactive books, and it’s due out in March. There’s not really a story (and it’s not exactly a sequel): a spotted dog is trying to track down a skinny cat, who runs through various scenes and can change color. When you get to the end, the book reverses on itself, and now Big Meow is looking for Little Woof. The illustrations are vibrantly colored and feature a huge array of dogs and cats in all sorts of different styles.

Look for Ladybug in Plant City by Katherina Manolessou

Daisy the rabbit has a pet ladybug who decided to play hide-and-seek one day … without telling Daisy. So she hired Basil, a lizard detective, to help track down her naughty pet. Each two-page spread has a very brief story to accompany it, and then lists the things that the duo found, like “a green hippo on a Ferris wheel, a crocodile going down a slide, and a dog pushing a bumper car” at the fair … but they just can’t seem to find Ladybug. (But you can.) It’s a cute story, with lots of things to find (and an answer key at the back).

Where’s the Llama? by Paul Moran (and others), written by Frances Evans

A group of Peruvian llamas has heard that the world loves llamas, so they’ve decided to go on a world tour to meet some of these adoring fans. Each spread has all ten llamas hidden somewhere on the page, and these llamas have a lot of personality (and some have accessories, like bowties or glasses or leather jackets). They visit an ice park in China, a palace in India, a tulip garden in the Netherlands, even Burning Man (though it’s called “Music Festival” and only shows the G-rated stuff). It’s like Where’s Waldo?, but with llamas! There’s an answer key in the back that shows the locations of all of the llamas, and also provides a checklist for additional things to look for on each page.

Elephants on Tour by Guillaume Cornet

This is another world tour—this time with elephants! A group of six elephants are headed across the globe, visiting the Amazon jungle, San Francisco, Madagascar, and more. In each place, you’ll find all five elephants: the explorer, the foodie, the artist, the photographer, and the athlete. Plus, you’ll find each one’s favorite belonging. Each page also has a little list of facts, like how to say “hello” in the local language, or what sorts of things you can do while you’re there. In a few places, the elephants also give you additional things to look for as well, and at the end there are some additional scenes, buildings, and items to look for (as well as an answer key). The illustrations are quite elaborate, so it helps that the book is large so you can pore over the tiny details.

Stop That Yawn! by Caron Levis, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Gabby Wild isn’t interested in bedtime, so instead she and Granny take off for Never Sleeping City, trying to stay awake as long as possible. But then Granny lets loose a yawn, and they race after it to keep it from spreading. The book is illustrated like a comic book, with panels and dialogue bubbles, and various characters let out great big yawns despite Gabby’s warnings … and then she turns to the reader, too. Okay, so this book is a little bit of bedtime propaganda for sure, but maybe if you read it just right, your kids will hit their cue when it comes along and head off to Sleepytown themselves.

Don’t Blink! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by David Roberts

The little owl in this book explains that if you never reach the end of this book, then you’ll never get to bedtime, so then you can stay up. However, every time you blink, you have to turn a page… The owl comes up with all sorts of suggestions about how to avoid blinking—but of course you just keep getting closer and closer to the end of the book anyway. As it turns out, the only way to stop blinking is to just close your eyes completely. Clever, right?

Maze Quest by Travis Nichols

This book is perfect for kids who like mazes and silly stories. You’re challenged to go on a quest to recover the pieces of the Sword of Lacidar, stolen from the Chamber of Priceless and Ridiculously Fantastic Treasures. To get there, you’ll have to find your way through dozens of mazes. There’s an inventory sheet where you can track items that you’ve collected like keys, gems and coins, and equipment. For instance, the Bronze Fist of Punching lets you punch through soft walls so you get at the treasure behind them or open up new paths to travel—but only if you find it in a maze! And the story itself … is pretty silly. I should mention that it’s also a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure story, because you’ll be given the choice several times to give up on your quest. But probably you’ll want to continue. (Jenny Bristol also included this one in her post about puzzle books last August.)


My Current Stack

This week I’ve read the collected edition of Jessica Abel’s Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, a comic book that combines Mars settlement and roller derby. It’s fascinating, and digs into some touchy subjects. I also finished Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake, a young adult novel that’s like a gut punch: it deals with a lot of weighty issues, including gender identity and rape. On a (slightly) lighter note, I read the middle grade novel The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith, about a kid who fell into a well when he was very young, and is now dealing with a lot of growing-up issues. It’s silly (there’s a talking armadillo who claims to be a unicorn) but also at the same time quite serious about expectations that are laid upon us by other people (particularly parents). More on these books in a future column!

Disclosure: I received review copies of the books in this column.

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This post was last modified on March 7, 2019 3:49 am

Jonathan H. Liu: @https://twitter.com/jonathanhliu Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit. I can be reached at jonathan at geekdad dot com.

View Comments (2)

  • Don't forget about Press Here by Herve Tullet, and The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak! Great interactive books.

    • Yes! Those are great, too—I've highlighted both of those in the past, along with several of Herve Tullet's other interactive books as well.