Hide your face in your hands, hold on for a second and jump back into view shouting “Peek-a-boo”. I am sure you are met with the giggling, surprised face of your baby.
This age-old classic game, played in whatever variation, is bound to bring pleasure and involve your baby into a conversation. Change it to hiding and uncovering objects/toys you teach babies to identify and recognize things around them.
This same concept is used to create and design Interactive books.
Interactive books are all about cognitive development. Cognitive development is how the baby or kid identifies, explores, understands and learns to distinguish things around them. These books are designed to encourage participation of babies/kids while reading the book.
There is a famous quote stating
Before they read books, children are reading pictures. – David Wiesner, Free Fall
A colorful moving object will never miss to catch a baby’s attention. Also, kids observe or try to figure out the story just by looking at the catchy illustrations even before they learn how to read. Adding an interactive element takes the books to the next level. It makes the books more interesting and paves way towards developing a reading habit.
Introducing interactive books as part of early learning is a good way to build interest and curiosity in kids to learn new things and gather information. They are a great tool for cognitive development in kids.
What are the different types of interactive books?
Interactive books are basically movable books. They contain various elements to interact and play so that the baby/kid can actively participate in the reading process. Some books also have 3D pop up pictures to boost kids curiosity.
Various kinds of innovative interactive books available in the market. I have listed the most popular types of interactive books below, with few examples in each category below:
Touch and feel books:
These are sensory books. These books introduce different textures to the child. The kids get to feel and differentiate between soft, fluffy, rough, hard, smooth, lumpy etc. The kids learn to express and associate a word to the feel of different textures. There are also bath books and cloth books with teethers attached and sound elements added.
- Baby Touch: Animals Tab Book by Ladybird
- Touch and Feel Trucks: Scholastic Early Learners by Scholastic
- Baby Touch and Feel: Puppies and Kittens Board book – Touch and Feel by DK
Finger Puppet books:
These books have a little plush puppet peeking out of the book. We can use the puppet to wiggle and dance through as we flip pages.
- Itsy Bitsy Spider Finger Puppet Book by Cottage Door Press
- Peppa Pig: Play with Peppa Hand Puppet Book Board book by Penguin UK
These books have a sound and sing feature attached to the book which activates by the press of a button. These books improve the listening skills in kids. There are many kinds of sound books. They can be as simple as animal sounds to singing rhymes.
- Peppa Pig: Beep Beep Brrrm!: Noisy Sound Book Board book by Penguin
- Baby’s Very First Noisy Nursery Rhymes (Baby’s Very First Books) by Usborne
Books with movable parts like clock, wheel:
They are designed to look like toys. The story along with the toy-like feature makes the reading process very lively and playful..
- Hello Friend Race Car Champion Book for Kids/Toddlers– Musical Sound Book with 6 Interactive Sounds and Steering Wheel by Brijbasi Art Press Ltd.
- Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Busy Day Board book by Penguin UK
Push-Pull and Slide books:
The books have moving tabs which are designed to change the illustration on pages by moving them. These are a great tool to help the development of hand-eye coordination and motor skills in a child.
- Little World: Under the Sea: A push-and-pull adventure Board book by Ladybird
- Beautiful Birds (Campbell First Explorers)Board book by Campbell books
Peek-a-boo books which reveal hidden objects by uncovering the flaps. These are the most loved category of interactive books.
- Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell
- Where’s Spot? (Spot – Original Lift The Flap) by Eric Hill
Peep Through books:
These books have a small peep hole which looks through to the next pages. The story is weaved such that each and every page is interlinked to one another.
- Are you there Little Tiger? (Little Peep-Through Books) Board book by Usborne
- Are you there Little Elephant? (Little Peep-Through Books) by Usborne
Pop-Up books and Transformation books:
These books have 3d picture elements and the story pops out of the book as the pages are opened or flipped.
These books are meant to engage kids in activities. Sometimes additional objects are provided such as magnets or stickers to complete an activity in the book. Coloring, join the dots, maze, spot the difference, follow the pattern, tracing are some other popular activity books which improve kids learning abilities, hand-eye coordination, intelligence and understanding. These books are available age-wise.
Find the object books:
Searching for a hidden object in a picture is another activity which every kid enjoys. These books are a great help in developing the observation skills in kids.
- Where’s Wally ? by Martin Handford
- Peppa Pig: Hide-and-Seek: A Search and Find Book Paperback by Ladybird
Digital interactive books or online interactive books:
As the name suggests these are electronic books(eBooks), available for interactive reading on a digital platform. These include animations and some are also designed as a game.
- Jack and the Beanstalk Children’s Interactive Storybook by Ayers Animation Inc.
- Epic, The Learning Digital library for kids.
- Kids Stories: Learn to Read by IDZ Digital Private Limited.
When and How to introduce interactive books?
Interactive books are available for the newborn all the way up to kids aged 8 years. Complex activity books are designed for teens and adults as well.
However, Interactive books for babies and toddlers are the most popular.
Introducing interactive books at this age is the best as it helps to build upon the natural curiosity of the child. The behavior of investigating anything and everything, which is quite natural in kids is addressed in a constructive way by interactive books. They get to learn new things by lifting a flap, peeking through a hole or following instructions given on the page.
Interactive books take the story telling to a new level. The books act as props to enhance the story being narrated giving a beautiful visual appeal to aid imagination.
Why are interactive books important? What is the purpose of interactive book?
Story-telling is a way of introducing the world outside home to kids. Adding interactive picture books is a good way to improve the early literacy skills.
Co-reading with kids helps in their cognitive and socio-emotional development and acts as a foundation as they grow up. It also enhances family bonding and affection.
Cognitive development is very important for kids. It teaches a child to perceive the world around him/her and how to belong in it. It is the mental skill that processes the information required for human actions from simple to complex tasks.
These books develop sensory skills as the baby can touch and feel the textures in books. Interactive books for toddlers help in developing hand-eye coordination and motor skills as they pull tabs, push sound buttons, lift flaps. They also shape the child’s imagination and curiosity.
Attractive pop-up picture grabs their interest and helps to improve their concentration and engage them in conversation.
Interactive story books containing more words and sentences improve vocabulary and language skills in kids. It gives wings to their imagination and creative thinking. Improves their narrative skills and phonetics.
Interactive books aid in speech therapy as a child learns to express his feelings. Repetitive rhyming words in books improves articulation and vocabulary.
Overall, interactive book reading is much more effective in the overall development of a kid compared to conventional book reading. Hence it is important to include these books in child’s early toys and book library. It serves the purpose of improving necessary physical and mental skills making them smart and intelligent.
Are digital interactive books better than physical books?
This is a very debatable subject and is a matter of personal choice. Both have their benefits and learning factors in their own way.
Digital interactive books contain animations and game like features. These capture the attention of the child, so they remember and recall the contents they have read or seen better.
Also, they are not as expensive as a physical book and can be upgraded easily. They are also easily accessible and portable. They take the reading experience to a whole new level with lively interactions.
Having said all this, digital books also create a lot of distractions and move the kid’s concentration away from reading. The kids get hooked to the animations/moving pictures which distracts them from the actual story.
The best way is the keep a healthy combination of both book types. Let the child enjoy the delight of digital interactions as well as cuddling up with a book and feel the flip of every page, experience the happiness of feeling flaps and pop-up jumping out of pages.
Gift your kids some interactive books and open up a beautiful world of reading with fun.
The kids will definitely learn a lot more and a lot quicker, if they can play, interact and read at the same time. Their creative minds will start thinking in many new ways. Be it traditional interactive books or digital interactive books, give your kids a chance to explore the reading experience which is sure to help in their overall development.
Check out the other article on my blog where I talk about How to choose the right story books for kids.