Here are some of the best interactive books for young children. Beautifully designed and clever, with flaps, wheels, pull-out pages, cut-outs, and more, suitable for toddlers and preschoolers (and up!). Find part 2 of this list here.
Circles, Yusuke Yonezu [Amazon] — These bright, graphic board books for toddlers feature clever cut-outs that transform images in a delightful way (and are also great for poking your fingers through). Squares [Amazon | Bookshop] and Triangles [Amazon | Bookshop] are equally wonderful.
All Better!, Henning Lohein and Bernd Penners [Amazon | Usborne] — In this book about the rituals around children’s injuries, animals have accidents and readers patch them up with reusable stick-on band-aids. If the band-aids start losing their stickiness, simply wash them clean under the tap and they’ll be all better, too. There’s also now a sequel, Good as New.
Tickle My Ears, Jörg Mühle [Amazon | Bookshop] — These interactive books ask kids to tend to Little Rabbit: drying him off after bath, comforting him after he hurts himself, tucking him into bed, turning off his bedroom light. They’ll clap, blow, tickle, and yell to get all this done. Also check out Bathtime for Little Rabbit [Amazon | Bookshop] and Poor Little Rabbit [Amazon | Bookshop].
What’s Up?, Olivia Cosneau and Bernard Duisit [Amazon | Bookshop] — Real paper artistry that’s a joy to interact with. Pull the tabs and the animals in these books will move in amazing ways. These aren’t too terribly delicate for toddlers (though you might lightly supervise use until they’re 4). Another great one from the same authors is How Do You Sleep? [Amazon | Bookshop].
This Is Not a Book, Jean Jullien [Amazon | Bookshop] — A clever book that transforms into various scenes or objects: hands clapping, a butterfly flapping its wings, an open fridge. Not all pages are equally successful, but the spread that turns the book into a laptop, the monster mouth, and the spread that unfolds into a living room are all very fun for pretend play and laughs. Check out the sequel, too: This Is Still Not a Book! [Amazon | Bookshop].
Follow Me Around the World, Roger Priddy [Amazon] — A fun series of books with recessed maze paths for children to trace through with their fingers. At the end of each maze, there’s a hole to poke their fingers through, and then on to the next adventure! There are quite a few of these books, so also try the original Follow Me [Amazon | Bookshop] and Follow Me Halloween [Amazon | Bookshop].
Alphabet Street, Jonathan Emmett andIngela P. Arrhenius [Amazon | Bookshop] — This amazing ABC book folds out into a huge street of alphabetically arranged shops, complete with flaps you can lift to see what’s inside. The opposite side has a park scene. You can use it to teach letters and sounds, but you can also stretch it out and stand it up, and then add dolls or figurines to use it as a play city.
Main Street Magic, Ingela P. Arrhenius [Amazon] — Another beautiful book from Arrhenius, with loads of flaps, often concealing silly or witty images (what’s inside the pretty box from the bakery? mice eating all the macarons!). See inside the bakery, the salon, the museum, the circus, and more.
The High Street, Alice Melvin [Amazon] — One of those many-layered books you can read and talk about for ages. Fold out the pages to reveal the interiors of shops as a girl checks off errands on her to-do list. It’s so impressive and well done — worth every penny.
Open Me… I’m a Dog!, Art Spiegelman [Amazon] — This witty book from legendary writer and artist Art Spiegelman is shamefully out of print, but if you can get a used copy for a reasonable price, you should do it. Here’s the concept: a witch cursed a dog and turned him into a book, your book, now your book is desperately trying to convince you that he’s a dog, not a book. The book even has a leash attached to it, should you decide you believe him. (Sympathetic children might end up dragging this book around by the leash.)
Mix It Up!, Hervé Tullet [Amazon | Bookshop] — A brilliant way to explore color and color mixing, without having to pull out the paints or clean up. Children can pretend to blend colors with their fingers or smash the book together to squish paint blobs into each other.
Press Here, Hervé Tullet [Amazon | Bookshop] — Now a classic: press the dot, and then turn the page to see what’s happened. Then slam it shut, shake it up, clap. A riotous, fun read.
Cook in a Book series, Lotta Nieminen [Amazon | Bookshop] — Kids turn wheels and lift flaps and finally pop out cookies and pancakes (and other foods) in these books. As well as Pancakes, check out Cookies [Amazon | Bookshop], Pizza [Amazon | Bookshop], and Tacos [Amazon | Bookshop].
The Ultimate Book of Planet Earth, Anne-Sophie Baumann and Didier Balicevic [Amazon | Bookshop] — Although some of the next might be slightly too complex for toddlers to grasp completely, the magnificent illustrations, pop-outs, and flaps are fascinating for any age (and a grown-up reading along can talk about anything that needs extra explaining). This particular book features an impressive pop-up volcano, for instance. Baumann and Balicevic have other stand-out books in this series, too: The Ultimate Book of Cities [Amazon | Bookshop], The Ultimate Book of Vehicles [Amazon], and The Ultimate Book of Space [Amazon | Bookshop].
Welcome to the Symphony, Carolyn Sloan and James Williamson [Amazon | Bookshop] — A big step above toddler sound books that have only five buttons with simple sounds. While toddlers might not be ready for all of the text within, the buttons let them explore lots of instruments and listen to some beautiful, dramatic music, too.
The Yoga Game series, Kathy Beliveau and Denise Holmes [Amazon | Bookshop] — For kids who love to move their bodies, this series features themed riddles and corresponding yoga poses. Guess the answer to the riddle, turn the page, and then practice a yoga pose. Also check out The Yoga Game by the Sea [Amazon | Bookshop].
Myth Match: A Fantastical Flipbook of Extraordinary Beasts, Good Wives and Warriors [Amazon | Bookshop] — A perfectly constructed design-a-mythological-creature book that not only mixes and matches bodies but also mixes and matches the descriptions of them, so you can read about the weird beast you’ve created — really impressive (and sophisticated enough for older children, too). Also check out Myth Match Miniature [Amazon | Bookshop].
Flip Flap Dinosaurs, Axel Scheffler [Amazon | Bookshop] — A simple mix-and-match dinosaur book (by the illustrator of The Gruffalo) that also mixes and matches descriptions of the dinosaurs (so you get a custom description of your creation) in ways that explain, briefly and simply, the ways their bodies are suited to their lifestyles.
Flip-o-saurus, Britta Drehsen and Sara Ball [Amazon | Bookshop] — A more sophisticated-looking mix-and-match dinosaur book, equally great.
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