I love the current trend for more and more interactive picture books for kids. Sure, we all read Pat the Bunny, and lift the flap books (which inevitably lose their flaps to grubby toddler paws.) but the marvelous books on this list require kids to participate in the act of reading in such a way that would put any iPad app book to shame. So turn off that electronic device and open an interactive picture book.
I’ve organized the books on the list according to age so you can find something for everyone! For my purposes, “interactive” doesn’t just mean touching, although almost all of these books require touching. It means “participation required.” Happy Reading! (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)
Interactive board books for babies and toddlers
Touch and Explore series by Xavier Deneux. Chronicle Books publishers has several new series for babies and toddlers that I really like. These books encourage kids to feel new textures and lift flaps as they learn about animals in their native environments.
The Busy Baby series by Sara Gillingham is quite clever. Each book contains a face which rotates around to reveal either a happy face or a sad face. Parents can talk about the emotions involved in each scenario presented in the two page spreads.
Touch, Think and Learn series is by the same French author as the Touch and Explore books. These are cool because each two page spread includes raised and depressed shapes so kids can trace the images.
Classic interactive books for toddlers and babies:
Interactive picture books for preschoolers (and up!)
Press Here by Hervé Tullet. What is it with French children’s authors and totally awesome interactive picture books for kids? This is my go-to book when purchasing a gift for any child aged 1-3. Each page asks the child to perform a task, such as pressing a colored dot or blowing on the page. When the page is turned, the landscape has magically changed.
Mix It Up! Using the same interactive format as Press Here, Mix it Up! focusses on color mixing. Kids will love it and parents will love the fact that there is no “on”button.
Like its predecessors, Let’s Play! is a tech-free delight. The text asks kids to perform certain actions which then result in a playful journey, including a bit of an emotional ride.
Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj. Three cats prepare to read a manual about cat secrets, but first they must ensure that no cats are around to eavesdrop. Kids will have to prove that they are cats in order to listen in. Will your kids make the cut? Utterly delightful.
There are Cats in this Book, by Viviane Schwarz, is a book I completely adore. This book captures their quirky, lovable-ness perfectly. Three cats explore the world in lift the flap style, engaging with the reader. Somehow I missed the fact that she wrote a third book, Is There a Dog in This Book? I can’t wait to read it!!
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. I used to read this book when I volunteered at library story time. I love how each page asks kids to perform an action, just like the animal on the page.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson is similar in concept to Press Here and its companion books. Kids tap, rub, jiggle the book and more in order to take a tree on a journey through the seasons.
More Bears by Kenn Kesbitt. In this very funny picture book an author is writing a book with no bears in it. None. No bears. But someone wants bears. MORE bears. How many bears can fit in the book, anyway? Kids will be laughing and shouting, “more bears!!” until they start shouting “more chickens”? (Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean.)
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! and Please, Open This Book!. Both of these books are sure to delight. What do you do when you are told not to read a book? What about when you are supposed to read a book but someone has closed it? A group of monkeys will help you sort things out. But be warned, you may giggle.
Interactive picture books for Grade School Kids
Spells by Emily Gravett. This book operates on the same level as the exquisite corpse game. A frog finds a magic spells book and attempts to use it in order to turn himself into a prince. The success, or failure, of his magic meddling is all dependent on how you turn the pages to get to the end of the story and of course you can change the path (and even the words) at any time.
New York in Pajamarama by Michael Leblond and Frederique Bertrand, which also comes from France, (!) is one of the coolest books whose illustrations seem to move! A sleepless boy who travels around New York City in his pajamas, over all the dizzying heights and swirling traffic. When readers slide the accompanying black-lined acetate sheet over the illustrations, it creates the illusion of movement. This books continues to be a favorite in our house.
Robo-Sauce. I’m not even sure how to describe this book that turns into a robot. Let’s just say, you have never seen anything like it. A boy loves robots and when her learns of a secret sauce that turns things into robots… well, that changes everything.
I would also like to give a shout out to the ultimate interactive picture books for kids: wordless books! Wordless books encourage kids to use their imagination to weave stories and engage with books in wonderful ways. If you don’t believe me, read these tips for how to make reading wordless books magical and start your journey with this list of wonderful wordless books.
More lists you will like:
- Toddler books I’ll miss reading
- Multicultural books for babies
- Metafictional picture books
- Find what you want in our index of book lists.
PS. A few years ago I created this list of interactive books for the blog Hands On As We Grow. Check it out!