Books and activities that incorporate movements, sounds, and vibrant pictures capture the attention of a young child. Simple songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot” use easy hand and body motions and children love to repeat these activities over and over again. Even for a toddler that is not using verbal communication and may not be able to sing the words, they are able to follow along and do the movements while the caregiver sings.
There are several formats of books that help develop a child’s love of reading. We will discuss several types of books and some recent popular examples. We’ll also talk about an exciting new book that combines zoo animals and the classic tune “The Wheels on the Bus” into a fun, interactive experience to share with your child.
We break the types of interactive books into several categories: Touch and Feel, Interactive Motion and Sing Along.
Touch and Feel
The classic book “Pat the Bunny” is probably the most well known of books that interactively pulls children into the book with more than just words and pictures. The fuzzy bunny fur to pat, the “peek-a-boo” with Paul and “smelling the flowers” with that soft smell everyone remembers. Another example is the “Touch and Feel” series from DK Publishing which includes “Animals”, “1,2,3” and “First Words” and helps children learn by not just hearing and seeing but also touching and feeling.
A more recent and increasingly popular series by Matthew Van Fleet is the “Tails” and “Heads” series of books that takes beautiful illustrations and combines a unique aspect of each animal into a touch and feel format and also includes flip-open flaps and slide mechanisms for tails that go “swat-swat-swat”. Other books with slides and flaps include “Where Is Baby's Belly Button?”, “Olivia the Magnificent” and the “Lift-the-Flap” series by DK Publsihing. These books further develop learning by interactive participation of the child in the story as well as physical dexterity to manipulate the mechanics of the books.
There are great books that bring popular children’s songs to life with pictures. Popular examples include “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “I’m a Little Teapot” and “Miss Mary Mac”. These books help make connections of the objects in the songs with the images of those objects and help with learning language and also develop a love of reading because of the connection with the book.
“Animals in the Zoo”
“Animals in the Zoo” is a sing and act along board book to the tune “The Wheels on the Bus.” This new book combines components of popular interactive book formats and further engages children in an activity of singing and moving while learning.
It was written by Beth and William Hoos and has a basis in their experience in zoo education. This book is illustrated by Coe Steinwart, an accomplished watercolor painter and illustrator of the award winning children's book “Elf on the Shelf”. This new book uses bright colorful illustrations, hand motions, and singing repetitious verses to create an experience for the young child. This is not only a book, but it becomes an activity.
Each watercolor illustration depicts an animal displaying a natural behavior as well as children playing and acting in a similar way. While the orangutans are featured swinging through the trees, the kids are swinging on the playground monkey bars. Kids sing and act out motions as they learn about animals in the zoo. Preschoolers love to flap like a toucan, raise their “trunks” like an elephant, and more.
The book idea emerged from Beth’s experience in zoo education at Zoo Atlanta where she designed children’s programs. Her experience merging activities about animal behavior into engaging, interactive, and fun programs for preschool age children eventually led to the idea for the new version of the classic song “The Wheels on the Bus.” As their own children embraced the new lyrics and started singing the song on road trips to, they decided to share the fun through the creation of a board book.
Young children begin to make a connection and develop an appreciation for these exotic or endangered animals by imitating their motions and sounds. Young children get into this wonderful learning action quickly and love it!
We hope you will enjoy all these great books and continue to build a love of reading through the interactive, quality time spent reading and sharing with your children.