Whether your child is an avid or reluctant reader, sometimes it’s fun to leave the “reading” behind and just have some fun with books. There are endless creative books out there that offer something fun for everyone. When looking at books becomes a fun activity, reading won’t be far behind!
Look and Find Books
I remember spending long road trips in the back seat of my parents’ Jeep obsessing over Where’s Waldo books. My biggest accomplishment one summer was finally locating Waldo in the land of Waldos – he’s the one who’s missing a shoe and I still remember exactly where to find him! I had forgotten about these books as an adult until one day my daughter came across one at the library. It was love at first search. This series, as it turns out, is absolutely made of winning.
Both of my girls enjoyed looking at these books TOGETHER. Anything that they enjoy together is an absolute miracle. The older one, Hailey could read the little blurbs of text to Juliet (who is four and not yet a reader) and they were able to follow along with the totally optional story. There were a few fights when Hailey found Waldo first, but there are so many things to find there was enough for everyone. Bonus: At the back of the book are even MORE lists of things to find on each page. The Waldo books quickly became a favorite in our group.
It turns out the Looks and Find (or Search and Find) genre is not limited to Waldo. You can find (pun intended) these books for almost every interest. We’ve brought home books about the Ocean, Animals, Pirate Ships, and our favorite – Disney movies.
If you haven’t check out “Press Here” you are missing out on a great time. I tend to look for titles at the library or bookstores that sound interesting or unconventional. The cover or “Press Here” has it all – an intriguing title and a solitary spot in the middle with an arrow. This book is full of interactive fun. Each page instructs the reader to do something new to make something else happen in the book. My girls were laughing hysterically a few pages in. A book was telling them to jump up and down or sway back and forth? Hilarious!
The author, Herve Tullet also has other fun interactive books like “Let’s Play” and “Mix it Up.” You may experience some diminishing returns once the novelty wears off, but the first few reads made it all worth it for us. Other books have attempted to get in on the fun. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” offers a similar experience for those who love Frozen.
Who Needs Words?
One of Hailey’s favorite books when she was about three years old was “Tuesday.” It was a gift (along with several other award-winning books) from a friend that we received when Hailey was a baby. The book was gorgeous and full of beautiful illustrations. It featured frogs- Hailey’s favorite animal. It seemed perfect. We opened it up and were surprised to find that it only had a few sentences.
The joy of this book, and the several others in the same vein (we have read “Flotsam” and “Mr. Wuffles”), besides the absolutely beautiful pictures, is the ability to create your own story. In the beginning it was on me, and the illustrations gave me plenty of fuel to tell a wildly imaginative story, but the more times we revisited this book, the more Hailey began to come up with her own story. Every time you open this book, you get a new experience. Sometimes we would learn new words, sometimes the animals and the people had different names and backstories. Sometimes we spent the entire time focused on one character or event. The possibilities for creativity and imagination are endless.
My heart warms the most when I see Hailey open this book with her little sister and helps her to create her own story as well.
For the Little Ones: Books with Sound
Full disclosure: I hate books with sound. The sounds are obnoxious and the books are usually terrible too. These are not the stories we will pass down for generations or the ones we will remember fondly as beautiful moments we’ve spent with our children. But…. both of my children LOVED these things. You know the ones – there’s an Elmo book about using the potty with real flushing sounds! There are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse books with all the sound effects you could ever want. We had one called “Lights on, Lights Off” about conserving electricity that had sound effects AND a light you could turn on and off with your very own light switch! Have you ever met a child who doesn’t love flipping light switches?
We’ve recently come into possession of books that have a tiny keyboard built in so you can learn to play your own awful (I mean delightful) music. My little one loves pounding on the keys and making as much noise as possible, but my older one can follow along and actually learned to play a few songs!
I like to keep a few of these books around even though my kids have generally outgrown them. Sometimes it’s fun to regress a little and find comfort in something simple and familiar. They are also wonderful to bring out whenever we have a really little one visiting.
Generally the batteries on these books last a lot longer than you want them to (is there a better way to silence an annoying toy than claiming the batteries have died and they are impossible to replace?), but occasionally your child will be devastated that the Thomas the Tank Engine book with the steering wheel (on a train, why??) no longer blows its whistle.
Go Play with a Book!
Reading has to be fun for kids to learn to love it. Books have to be fun for kids to become interested in reading. For us, a love of books was the precursor to a deep love of reading, and even though Hailey is a fluent reader, she still loves revisiting books that are just plain fun!
These books are great gifts, for your own children or others – enjoy!