When teaching young children to read, it is important to find interactive books that are engaging. These days there are myriad electronic options, from Play-a-Sound books to e-books on tablets and smart phones. These are great to motivate a young reader, especially if it is a story they want to hear over and over again and you don’t necessarily want to read over and over again. But sometimes it is nice to take a step back and find the interactive books that truly engage without the use of batteries or any other electronic components.
There are different categories of interactive books. There are books that ask the reader to move the book and physically touch to engage, there are books that require the reader to participate by singing along, and of course there are pop up books. Pop up books can engage even the youngest readers because the pictures tell the story. Jake Ball goes into more detail on the bookstore blog titled “Why the World Needs Pop Up Books.” He tells us how pop up books are engaging children today and gives examples of great pop up books.
The next category of interactive books includes sing along stories. One of the best examples I have found to date is the Pete the Cat series. Starting with “Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes,” Pete takes us on a journey walking along, singing his song through colorful messes and ruining his white shoes, all with a positive attitude. The simple repetitious tune to his song makes it easy for any reader to sing along. Don’t worry, it is OK to check the Internet to research the tune, but once you have it, it is easy to remember.
As I read this story to my kindergarten students, they couldn’t help but start to sing along and predict what was to come next. By the end of the story, they were standing up singing and dancing along with the story and they wanted to hear it again and again! I had one student in particular who had no interest in reading until he found these books. He owns all of the Pete the Cat books now. As a teacher, I get excited when a student finds a style of book they like so much at such an early age. I am glad he has connected to these stories so I know how to accommodate his learning style.
The final category of interactive book that I have found is the type of book that forces the reader to move or touch the book. My favorite book that I have found that fits this category is “Press Here” by Herve Tullet. This story engages the reader to touch simple colorful circles on the page leading to some type of transformation on the next page. I love that this book feels like you are playing a game on a tablet computer but really you are actively turning pages in this creative book. The illustrations are beyond simple, with painted yellow, red and blue circles, but the direction of the story and the instructions to the reader keep the reader engaged.
Press Here is a lot of fun to read with young children because they are so surprised to see what happens next. It is harder to read with a class full of students, but my class was still very engaged and excited to see what happened when you press here!
Interactive stories don’t have to come with batteries; they just have to motivate the reader to go beyond reading. And when you are ready to add the batteries, and trust your children with technology, these stories make a great transition into electronic stories and their functions. So get up and go-sing-touch-move-READ!