Some kids really have trouble sitting still for a book (frankly, even as a huge reader myself, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to sit quietly).
In those cases, the perfect solution is a book that is a little more engaging than your typical picture book – one that brings them into the story and gives them something to touch or open or find.
I especially love these books when we’re traveling or waiting at the doctor’s office or something else where I am grateful to get as much mileage out of a single book as possible.
Whether you’re on the go, trying to make reading fun for a rambunctious toddler or preschooler, or just looking for something a little different, these nine books are top-notch
Press Here by Herve Tullet.
Well obviously this was going to be first. Each page gives you an instruction (“tap the yellow dot twice” or “shake the page up and down”) and on the following page, the picture has changed according to your actions. We’ve been reading it for nearly five years, and my girls still love it. Also check out the sequel, Mix It Up!
Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles Into Comics by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost.
This one is for a slightly older audience (think 2 grade or older) than some of the other books on this list. I bought a copy of this for my library when I was and I didn’t shelve it once for an entire year. As soon as one student brought it back, another would snatch it from the cart and check it out. I especially like that it’s both a story and provides drawing instruction. There are other books in this series too, like Characters in Action, an activity book, and a Christmas Special edition.
Out of Sight by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais.
Do kids EVER get tired of animal books? Mine certainly don’t seem to. This one is probably my all-time favorite animal book. Each page shows a part of several animals on flaps (a collection of ears or paw prints or coat patterns). Lift the flap and the corresponding animal is revealed, plus the back of the flap has an interesting fact about the animal. I learned loads about animals and our whole family was sad to take this one back to the library. Check out The Open Ocean and Birds of a Feather too.
Busy Bunny Days: In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port by Britta Teckentrup.
I love everything Britta Teckentrup does – she has the most gorgeous illustrations and this book, originally published in Germany, is a cross between Richard Scarry and Where’s Waldo?, with a million cool details to check out, plus a tricky badger hiding on each page. The illustrations are bright, detailed, and beautiful, and I could look at the different spreads all day long. I also love her spotting books, like Where’s the Pair? and The Odd One Out.
The Jolly Postman by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg.
I’d never read this one until Bart and I got married and it was part of his collection of picture books (a gift from his parents a few years earlier – it’s no wonder I married into that family). A postman goes on his daily rounds, delivering letters to various fairy tale characters. At each delivery, there is a letter, with a pocket on the page where you can pull out the actual letter. Opening those tiny letters never gets old and they are so clever! I need to buy the Christmas version too.
Round Trip by Ann Jonas.
My dad loves a clever design and this book is one of the few picture books I remember him pointing out to me as a child. All in black and white, it begins with a trip to the city. And then when you reach the end of the book, you flip the book upside down and read back the other way, returning home. It’s mind-boggling to see all the pictures turn into completely different images just with a 180 degree spin. Seriously, it’s insane.
Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson.
The concept is similar to the one in Press Here. On every page, you touch or rub or tap something in the picture, and on the next page, the illustration has shifted in response. Christie Matheson did Tap the Magic Tree a couple of years ago, which I liked but this one I think is WAY better. The colors are so vibrant and there is just something so magical about the night in this book.
LMNO Peas by Keith Baker.
My girls love a book where you’re looking for something on each page, and this clever alphabet book (full of puns and tiny details to notice as you read it for the millionth time) has a ladybug on each spread. I have spent approximately a week of my life helping Ella find the ladybug. There’s also a number version too, 1-2-3 Peas, and a color version, Little Green Peas.
Don’t Push the Button! by Bill Cotter.
I think of this as the modern version of the classic There’s a Monster at the End of this Book with a lot more interaction. The reader is warned not to push the button but then, if you break the rules and push the button (which, of course you will, or it would be a very short book), things start to go haywire. I spotted this one in a bookstore when it first came out and it was immediately a hit with my girls.
P.S. More picture book suggestions here!