Knock-Your-Socks-Off, Interactive Children’s Books

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Henry Chen)
(Image credit: Carrie McBride)

I truly believe that all a children’s book needs to be magical is a well illustrated wonderful story, but sometimes, as a gift,…a book can fall flat. These interactive books, on the other hand, have so many bells and whistles, they won’t be cast aside on Christmas morning in favor of “real” toys. They are super creative, super fun and meant to be played with, over and over.

  1. What’s Inside by OKIDO. This special twist of this book is that when certain pages are held up to light, more pictures are revealed giving children a look at what’s inside bodies, buildings, cars and more. A really unique, enjoyable experience. You can see a video here.
  2. My First Keyboard Book by Sam Taplin. Part picture book, part sheet music, part working keyboard, this book is a wonderful introduction to an instrument or just plain fun for young children to experiment with. You can watch a video demo here.
  3. I’m So Glad You’re Here Giant Book by Michelle Romo and J. Betrue. Perhaps hard to tell from the photo collage, this soft book is actually child-sized. And by that I don’t mean it’s sized for a child; I mean that it is the size of a small child. Measuring in at 25″ x 22″, the book features beautiful appliqué and embroidery.
  4. Is There a Dog in This Book? by Viviane Schwarz. A long-awaited follow-up to the hilarious “There are Cats in this Book” and “There are NO Cats in this Book”, the cat trio of Tiny, Moonpie, and Andre are back for more interactive fun. Children will be amused by the story and delighted in the surprises awaiting them behind all the flaps.
  5. Playbook Farm by Corina Fletcher and Britta Teckentrup. This is a fantastic pop-up book on its own, but in the (probably trademarked) words of Ron Popeil, “But wait, there’s more!”, the book unfolds to become a 3-D playmat. Really inventive format that has been continued in Playbook Pirates and Playbook Castle. You can see customer photos and a video here.
  6. My Little Blue Robot by Stephen T. Johnson. Perfect for kids who love to build, or who love robots, this book includes sturdy cardboard parts to build your own robot (who even talks!). All the pieces use slots and tabs so you don’t need glue or any extraneous materials. You can see a video of one being built here.
  7. The Ultimate Book of Vehicles From Around the World by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Didier Balicevic. Not only is this a big book and filled with wonderful illustrations of all kinds of vehicles – cars, motorcycles, buses, cement trucks — but it has 60 moving parts: from simple flaps to open, tabs to pull and more complex parts a child can manipulate (see this video to get a better idea). This is truly a memorable book that a child can spend hours and hours with. There’s also a follow-up: The Ultimate Construction Site Book.
  8. Ocean: A Photicular Book created by Dan Kainen, written by Carol Kaufmann. If you haven’t yet experienced a “photicular” book – you must. When this book arrived at the office everyone crowded around to marvel at the seemingly moving pictures. Kainen’s first creation, Safari, is wonderful and his latest, Ocean, takes readers under the sea. This video gives you a peek behind the photicular technology.
  9. My First Computer by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Marion Billet. This book won’t keep your toddler from wanting to bang on your computer keyboard, but it will certainly keep them occupied and delighted, perhaps while you do your own work. With flaps to open and, of course, things to slide, ala a tablet, this book simulates the discovery of an app, but in a beautifully low tech/high creativity way. Watch a demo here.
  10. Presto Change-O! A Book of Animal Magic by Édouard Manceau. This is one of the most creative interactive books I’ve ever seen. Children can literally move the pictures around to transform one scene into another. A teapot turns into an elephant, a hot air balloon turns into a rabbit – and back again, if you wish. Check out this video of the book in action.