I have a soft spot in my heart for books where a character or object breaks that fourth wall and starts interacting directly with either the story or the audience.
Sometimes, you just want to imagine your book could talk back to you or react to the story, or everything you knew about a familiar story could be tossed on its head.
Here are some of my favorite books that do just that.
- Chester by Melanie Watt. When I was a library intern, we did a mock Caldecott, and this was the winner by a LANDSLIDE. Chester won’t let Melanie Watt tell her story because he’s sure his story is the best of them all, and he and his red marker are going to make sure it’s shared.
- The Three Pigs by David Wiesner. I know, I know. Another David Wiesner. It’s not my fault the man is a genius. In this book, it starts out as the Three Little Pigs story as you know it, but then the wolf accidentally blows them right off the page and into the backside of fairy tale stories.
- Doodleday by Ross Collins. His mother warns him not to draw on Doodleday, but he does anyway and everything he draws comes to life.
- The Pencil by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman. The pencil starts off drawing a nice little town, but pretty soon everyone has complaints (“my nose is too big!” and “this hat is ugly!”) and so the pencil draws an eraser to fix some details. And then the eraser takes matters into his own hands.
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. Crayons have feelings too, you know. And they are here to announce that they are NOT happy about how they’ve been treated.
- Press Here by Herve Tullet. Is there anyone who doesn’t know this brilliant little book? Press the dots, shake the pages, and watch the book change before your eyes (with just the flip of a page).
- Jumangi by Chris Val Allsburg. So much better than the movie, here’s the classic Caldecott book about a board game come to life.
Single Bonus Chapter Book Because I Could Only Think of One
- Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Maggie’s father has a special power; he can read characters right out of a book. Which sounds fantastic until he reads out some very bad characters who come to get Maggie and her father.
A Few Crafts, Activities, and Recipes:
- Make Pigs in a Blanket to eat while you read The Three Little Pigs
- Buy some picture books at the thrift store for cheap, and let your kids rewrite the stories to their liking, a la Chester (or like Battle Bunny, which I think is a super clever concept but I didn’t include on this list because I find actually reading it to be kind of burdensome).
- Dip pretzels in melted colored candies to make your own edible crayons
- Start out with a classic fairy tale and then take turns coming up with twists in the story.