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 interactive picture books that do just that.
interactive picture books and more
- 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.
And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
if you liked this post about interactive picture books, you might also like these posts:
- 9 Interactive Books for Energetic Little Readers
- 11 (Somewhat) Indestructible Lift the Flap Books
- 25+ of our favorite funny kid books
I love your book recommendations. Keep them coming!
I enjoyed The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. It's YA fantasy. I don't think the 4th wall is ever broken, but there are chalk drawings that come to life.
Don't push the button by Bill Cotter was one of my favorites when I was nannying. Love these too!
We love Press Here. Great pick!
I agree with you about Battle Bunny–my husband read it by himself and loved it, but I found it really difficult to read out loud.
Lauren and Joe O'Brien says
Love "press here"…just got it from the library last Tuesday. Will have to try these other books too.
Some Coloring sites for you: http://www.teachthechildrenwell.com/other.html#color, Pinky Dinky Doo is kind of fun for making stories http://www.pinkydinkydoo.com; and try My StoryMaker http://www.carnegielibrary.org/kids/storymaker/
Patrick&Selena Pallas says
Can't wait to pick some if these up at our library!
My kids got a kick out of "We Are In A Book" by Mo Willems, where elephant and piggy discover they can make the reader say whatever they want. "Banana."
I really appreciate you putting together these book lists. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut, taking out the same books over and over. I love having some fun "new" options at my fingertips
The Lemony Snicket books, Series of Unfortunate Events, also break the fourth wall all the time warning the reader to turn back now, things aren't going to get any better. That cracked my daughter up so much that I credit that series with making a self-directed reader out of her. I think she started reading them when she was 8.
Elizabeth W says
Press here is one of our favorites and the day the crayons quit is waiting for us at the library,
I love your books lists! And chatbooks looks awsome, I'd love to win!
I love the book lists you put together!
My kids now ask to read the books mommy checked out instead of whatever they find:)
Ciera Street says
Great book recommendations!
Thanks for this ~ there are some new ones here that I didn't know and we'll definitely be checking those out! And I didn't know about the Cornelia Funke book but Pirate Girl is definitely one of my favorite picture books like ever. (Smile!)
My wishlist if full of books your recommend. I want to check out DoodleDay now!
What a smart concept! I would love to win and get a head start on y IG feed!
Maren T. says
Your book reviews are why I read! Thanks lady!
D and B's Mommy says
We will definitely be checking these out! My boys also like the Elephant & Piggie "We are in a Book". They think the banana part is hilarious!
Well, now I would like to buy 1 million chatbooks! Never heard of them before. And Janssen, thank you for all your kid book recs. Our library haul has been AMAZING lately!
Léanne :) says
I love your recommendations! Thank you! 🙂
Well I thought I left comment, huh. Anyways, thank you so much for putting up these reading lists! Ever since finding your blog I've found a new appreciation for our library and everything it offers. I love your suggestions and I know my daughter does too. Keep them coming!
I check out at least one book a week from your recommendations. My kids always love them!
Cristina David says
Love the Chatbooks concept! What an easy way to document the beautiful parts of life.
Living on Love says
So cool! I want to do this for each of the girls at the end of the year!
Love this idea!
Such a great gift idea!
Katie F says
My daughter looooves Press Here. And I've been wanting to get her The Day the Crayons Quit – great list!
Thanks for the book recommendations!
I was just talking to my sister about these! I love this idea!
The Apron Gal says
These seems so cool! Fun!
Sounds likes a fun giveaway and the book suggestions are great.
Andrea Smith says
Oh I have heard of some companies that do this, but not this inexpensive! I love the concept, I think I need to do this!
I'll have to try it out!
Oh, Inkheart is a favorite. I love children's books…I am particularly excited about these picture books, I'll need to look into them.
I love when you recommend childrens books. You have high standards so I know they'll always be good!!
home to enjoy says
Thanks for the recommendations! We love the library!
Sarah Barshop says
Can't wait to try Chatbooks out — looks awesome!
Here's another: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear. I was reading this the other night to my son and realized it fits perfectly in this category. In this case, you, the reader, are another character warning the little mouse about the big hungry bear
Glad to learn about Chatbooks, looks cool. I've been using My Social Book to print out Facebook stuff, so now I should do the same thing for Instagram!
I love this series you've been doing this summer and Chatbooks looks very cool!