I’m sure it’s difficult to believe, but my almost-3-year-old, George, loves to be silly. I think I call him “goober” and “silly goose” more often than his actual name. Give him a few fruit snacks or a sip of chocolate milk, and he’s bouncing and rolling like a stuntman practicing parkour.
And so, when I discovered interactive books, it was like Lucy finding her wardrobe, because I also love to be the instigator of my son doing silly things. These books opened a new world for us to explore together.
Interactive books: /in(t)ərˈaktiv/ /bo͝ok/ (noun) Books that encourage kidlets to jump, clap, dance, poke, sing, count, boogie, move it-move it, shake it off, walk on sunshine, shake it like a Polaroid picture, walk like an Egyptian, etc.
I started trying to engage with George and interactive books when he was too little. It’s not as fun for either party when Mama is grasping toddler’s hand and forcefully pushing on the illustrated buttons. Also, toddlers are notorious for missing jokes, which makes me sad.
To be honest, it’s also nice not to have to pull all of the book-reading weight on my own. Some of these books inspire physical movement, so I get to lay on the floor like a winner while my son trots like a pony or hops like a frog. The bonus being the burning of the never-ending toddler energy.
And so, with no further ado or beloved references from The Office, here we go:
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Um, it’s Eric Carle. He could write a book about boogie monsters successfully eating their prey, and kids would love it. Something about those weird, layered illustrations click with toddler brains. This book makes my son kick like a donkey (even though we don’t kick Mama or baby sister, only soccer balls…ahem), stomp like an elephant, and clap like a seal. Warning: Don’t read this as a bedtime story. Rookie mistake.
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
This is a sweet book about the changing seasons. The little readers (watchers?) get to tap, rub, jiggle, blow, shake, and brush the tree to move from new leaves to flowers to apples to snow. I loved reading this to George when he was about 18-months-old, and he continues to enjoy it. Sweet times. Christie Matheson also wrote Touch the Brightest Star, which is perfect for night-night time (I used to be cooler, I promise).
Give & Take by Lucie Félix
Goodness gracious, give this book at a 1-year-old’s birthday party. Or maybe a 2-year-old’s, as a 1-year-old may chew on the pieces. Depends on the kid…does he have teeth yet? Anywho. Give & Take is as simple as it is brilliant. On page one, there’s a red ball. At the bottom of the page, it simply says, “Take.” You remove the red ball, turn the page, and place it in a hand, over which is the word “Give” to complete a new picture. On another page, you remove a square from a house’s window to “turn the light on,” then turn the page and place the square over a candle’s flame to say, “Lights out!” (George always pretends to blow out the candle. Presh.) When you finish, you simply start the book from the back and work your way to the front. I’m not sure if the beauty of the book is communicable (this word makes me uncomfortable) via this description, but I was in love with this book from the first time George opened the cover.
Press Here by Hervé Tullet
(apparently the French know how to make amazing interactive children’s books. Also, I want to point out how I’m striving for excellence by putting in the accent marks for these French folks. I do it for the glory, really.)
Hervé Tullet — may I call you Hervé? — is a dreamboat author. Apparently, he’s written more than 50 children’s books, but Press Here seems to appear the most.
He’s also come up with Let’s Play and Mix It Up, which currently has our attention. How can I describe these? Basically, brilliant Hervé uses simple blobs of color to ask children to touch and interface (I’m married to a computer programmer, so you’re welcome for that word) with the book. Then, when you flip the page, something has changed. This astonishes and excites George to no end. In Mix It Up, it teaches about colors, so the reader (viewer?) “mixes” blue paint with yellow paint to make green. It sounds messy, but the magic cleans all the paint off the toddler’s fingers before the last page.
I think interactive books are worth exploring. I get tired and cranky reading the same books over and over, so when you invite your child to play with the book, you create more fun and excitement. This is especially vital when Mama is tired and her creative juices and voice inflections need a nap.
- Don’t Push the Button! by Bill Cotter
- Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson
- Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda
Side note: The research for this post alone has made me add three new books to my Amazon cart (ahem…don’t tell the Hubs).
Interactive books in my Amazon cart (so don’t quote me on these recommendations):
- Bee: A peek-through picture book by Britta Teckentrup
- Tree: A peek-through picture book by Britta Teckentrup
- Apples and Robins by Lucie Félix
Any books make your kids do more than sit like bumps on a log?