The very first book that my son ever stopped to listen to was a book called Buzz Buzz Busy Bees by Dawn Bentley. It’s a touch-and-feel book that has nine fuzzy bees in it, all of them worn down to lint by now from his loving caress. Those bees were so captivating to him, and it was nice to know that he was drawn into the story because of them (even if his main goal was to eat them, at first).
From there, he fell in love with Bizzy Bear who appears in a series of books written by Benji Davies. The Bizzy Bear books are chalk full of moving parts from busy cars circling a roundabout, to sailboats rocking at sea. Joy Gosney’s Busy books were equally enchanting, with their spinning washing machines and scooping diggers.
These books had the power to stop my little road-runner in his tracks, and even though pulleys and pop-ups have been around for ages, these types of books continue to fly off the shelves. Kids love to read books in a hands-on way, and that is something that will never change — particularly in a world that is obsessed with touch-screens and tablets.
It’s true, the world of picture book apps and ebooks is growing wildly. But amidst all the digital buzz (and perhaps because of it), many authors have started playing with physical books in a different way, adding a new twist to the interactive story format.
This exciting pocket of books engages kids in a way that allows them to make a difference in the story by asking them to do things like tap the page, press a picture, shake the book, move their hands, or blow a kiss in order to move the story along. It’s absolutely magical, and kids cannot resist getting involved.
One such book is Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. The story begins, “There is magic in this bare brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page and see.” With that, children set off on a journey to move the tree through the seasons, giving it leaves, flower buds, petals, apples and then having the leaves change colors and fall off. Kids truly become magicians while reading this book, simply by tapping, clapping, wiggling, jiggling….and turning the page.
Herve Tullet’s Press Here takes a similar perspective on getting kids involved in the story. This marvelous book starts with one yellow dot and gets children to add more dots, change the colors and make them move around. With the right imagination, children will believe that they are making magic on the page.
Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas starts off with a ladybug shouting to the reader “Hey, you! Yes, I’m talking to you! Stand up!” Turn the page and the ladybug says: “No, I changed my mind…sit down!” And so it goes. Throughout the book, the ladybug invites kids to play a game of let’s pretend: “Pretend you have a tiny bug on your nose. Wiggle it off!” “Whoops! The tiny tickly bug flew into your mouth? Blow it out!” But then when the pretend bug becomes a giant frog, the ladybug asks the reader to make a scary face to save her. A laugh-out-loud fun time for young kids! Thomas’ Is Everyone Ready for Fun? brings just as many giggles.
On the very first page of Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley, the reader is thrown into the classic tale of The Ugly Little Duckling….until the duckling notices something odd. There is a crocodile tail on the page. The duckling then leaves the story to find out why there is a crocodile on the page, and readers are asked to help out by rocking the book back and forth to make the crocodile go to sleep, and shaking the book to try to make him fall out.
These magically interactive books engage kids in a way that brings excitement and wonder to storytelling, and I just know that as my little toddler grows older, these types of books will continue to make him smile, and hopefully inspire a life-long love of reading.