Best Interactive Books for Kids of 2020

Updated
These books will help you form a bond with your child while educating them.

Global literacy rates are improving among children (1). However, going from country to country, we see a different picture. In the U.S., 50 percent of adults can’t read at an eighth-grade level (2).

Reading is a critical skill, but it can also be incredibly fun for children to do — if they are engaged in the right way.

So, if you want your child to learn how to read, how do you know which books are going to teach them efficiently while also keeping them entertained? Our list of the best interactive books for kids will help you find some winners.

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Why Interactive Books Are Best for Children

Today, children spend lots of time with technology and watching TV.

Youngsters staring at screens for hours a day is something that concerns many adults. Expert research says this screen time may be damaging to a young child’s development (3).

Technology has also become a popular device for parents as an occupier of children’s attention, a sort of one-eyed babysitter.

Many pre-tech adults have fond memories of their parents reading to them as kids. Reading together creates a strong bond between parent and child (4). And interactive books can be even better.

What Is Interactive Book Reading?

Interactive books involve touching, lifting flaps, listening to sounds, or searching for things, which helps teach pre-reading skills.

They develop a child’s imagination and creativity, improve critical thinking and, vitally for many parents, hold a child’s attention better than traditional books.

Benefits of Interactive Reading Books

Setting aside the educational element just for a moment, using interactive books can enhance the pure pleasure of reading.

Reading is fun — it transports us to other worlds, helps us to relax, and shuts out the noise around us. Don’t you want your children to experience the joy of books?

Build this positive association early, and they will.

If you want your child to learn critical reading skills while boosting their overall brain power — interactive books are the way to go.


The Best Interactive Kids Books of 2020

1. Press Here

Best for Pure Imagination

Press Here
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Press Here by Herve Tullet is a wonderful book. It invites children to press the yellow blob on the cover, then turn the page and see what happens.

Children touch, blow, or shake the blobs within, and then flip the page over to see how they have changed.

It’s a print book — it’s no technological marvel and doesn’t have bells and whistles. It’s an incredibly simple idea, developed into something brilliant.

It’s interactive, great for groups, and teaches children about cause and effect. Even adults will find themselves immersed.


2. Look Inside Our World

Best for Higher Education Made Simple

Look Inside Our World
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Our world is a beautiful yet complex place. If your knowledge is a little lacking (I admit I’ve forgotten some lessons from school), or you have trouble explaining geographical concepts to your small child, this book can help.

Look Inside Our World breaks down what our planet is and how it’s formed. It uses beautiful illustrations and flaps for interactivity in a way that children can understand and enjoy.

The publisher, Usborne, also offers interactive books for topics such as space, the human body, and seas and oceans. You can pick and choose the subjects you want your child to learn.


3. Alphabet

Best for Early Language Education

Alphabet (Paula Wiseman Books)
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This multi-concept book by Matthew Van Fleet uses an astounding range of interactive experiences (flaps, tabs, scratch-and-sniff, and more) to teach children words.

Alphabet is excellent for preschool kids, as it helps them learn about opposites, synonyms, action words, and other critical language for their future education. It’s also fun and colorful, so children won’t feel like they’re learning.


4. The Big Sticker Book of Birds

Best for Animal Lovers

The Big Sticker Book of Birds
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All the kids I know love stickers. And I’m sure parents will love these stickers that teach their child about ornithology.

Showcasing many of our beautiful and unusual feathered friends, The Big Sticker Book of Birds is an activity book that is educational too.

It doesn’t end with stickers either. The book also has games and puzzles for you and your child to enjoy together.

The author, Yuval Zommer, has created sticker books for other animal groups too, including insects and ocean creatures. So, if birds aren’t your child’s favorite animals, you have other options.


5. The Chronicles of Narnia Coloring Book

Best for Little Artists

The Chronicles of Narnia Official Coloring Book: Coloring Book for Adults and...
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Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia yourself and would love to share the story with your child? Do you want your child to step into the world of fantasy? Or do you simply want to improve your child’s reading through a story that has proved enthralling and enduring?

The Chronicles of Narnia Coloring Book uses classic illustrations from the seven Narnia stories to draw your child into a stunning fantasy realm.

While they color — an activity most children love — you can read the story along with them. Help your child develop a passion for both art and reading with this attractive coloring book.


6. How Are You Feeling Today?

Best for Helping Kids Express Feelings

How Are You Feeling Today?
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This is potentially a book of great significance. There may be times when you feel like you don’t understand your child, or your child doesn’t know how to express how they feel. That’s what this book is for.

How Are You Feeling Today? by Molly Potter is aimed at helping children cope with their emotions. But it’s disguised as another fun and colorful book on your shelf.

In the book, your child finds the emotion they are feeling, and then they can discuss it with you and express what they are going through.


7. The Book With No Pictures

Best for Reading Skills

The Book with No Pictures
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It sounds bizarre for a children’s book, but this book has no pictures.

So, how could it possibly hold a child’s attention? Well, the idea is that you have to say what is written on the page out loud. A lot of it is quite silly — words like BLURF.

Children will not only want you to read it so they can hear you say funny words, but they will undoubtedly want to read it themselves.


8. Open Very Carefully

Best for Parents Who Need a Little Guidance

Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite
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Nick Bromley and Nicola O’Byrne have delivered a book with a bite. If you’re not sure how to make a book exciting for your kids, then this is the one for you. It pretty much guides you the whole way.

This was a regular old storybook until a crocodile got inside and started wreaking havoc. Children will love the unexpected twists and turns, and the overall chaos of the story as the crocodile chomps down on letters and sentences, trying to make his escape.

This book was the winner of the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize 2014.


9. Gallop!

Best of (Non-Computer) Technology

Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book
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Have you heard of scanimation (5)? It involves a form of optical illusion used to trick the eye into seeing movement.

Gallop! by Rufus Seder takes full advantage of this technique to create a book of motion for your kids to enjoy.

You get the cool effect of seeing animals appear to move as you turn the page. And children may well want to jump up and copy the way the animals move for themselves, which is sure to entertain the entire family.

If you have a baby who’s too small to jump around, they’ll still benefit from the mental stimulation of these “moving” images.


10. VTech Baby Nursery Rhymes Book

Best for Babies

VTech Baby Nursery Rhymes Book - Multi-Colour
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We’re going quite a bit younger here — so young that we’re not yet considering reading skills at all. But it’s nice to include something for the littlest of little ones.

Vtech Nursery Rhymes Book pretty much explains itself — but it’s enhanced with lights, sounds, and music to make itself extra appealing to babies. It’s also colorful and full of pretty pictures for your baby’s eyes.

This book will help your baby develop language and dexterity skills.


11. Unicorn Handwriting Practice

Best for Pink and Pretty Lovers

Unicorn Handwriting Practice: Letter Tracing Workbook (Little Learner Workbooks)
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Unicorns have made quite the comeback in recent years, as those glittery unicorn drinks and muffins from Starbucks tell us. Odds are, you have a child at home who would love this book right from the cover.

Unicorn Handwriting Practice by Little Learner Workbooks teaches your child how to write their ABCs, including upper and lowercase — helping your child to achieve the right letter formation.

Writing is excellent for hand-eye coordination and helps with the pen control skills that your child will need for school.

Pretty, pink, and educational — have fun scribbling away.


12. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Best of Basics

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
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Let’s start with a classic, a children’s book by Eric Carle. It’s based on such a simple idea that I’m sure children’s authors around the world are kicking themselves for not having come up with it. It’s the story of a little caterpillar who eats and eats until he can’t eat anymore.

Published in 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a picture book with some basic interactive elements. Children can put their fingers through the holes in the food the caterpillar has eaten. It may seem simple, but there’s a reason this book has sold over 50 million copies (6).


13. The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook

Best for Fantasy-Loving Kids

The Dragon Keeper's Handbook
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They have selected your child. They have an egg, and an invitation to become a Dragon Keeper. Who wouldn’t want a dragon?

So, what now?

Well, they have to learn how to take care of their new baby dragon. That’s where The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook by Kate Haworth and Monica Armino comes in.

This book brings together various interactive components to offer a lovely humorous book that should hold the attention of your child. If you happen to be a bit of a fantasy geek yourself, you may like that the author has packed in plenty of references to real-life dragon mythology.


14. Can You Make a Scary Face?

Best for Silly Fun

Can You Make a Scary Face?
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If you want your kids to get a little wiggly and show off their drama skills, Can You Make a Scary Face? might be a great pick for you.

Jan Thomas’s picture book features a demanding ladybug who will instruct your child to do things such as make scary faces, dance, laugh, or jump.

This is an entertaining book for multiple children or classrooms. It will get them to burn up a bit of their extra energy. Simple, yet super exciting for kids, grab this book when you just want to have some silly fun and do a little physical activity.


15. The Yellow Balloon

Best Just for the Pictures

The Yellow Balloon
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We’re going light on the reading again — this book by Charlotte Dematons has no words. Instead, it has beautiful watercolor images depicting a range of time-periods and a touch of fantasy, too.

Child and parent follow a yellow balloon through the book as it navigates through different countries and eras. The pictures are incredibly detailed, and you can spot a million little stories within them.

This is a super book for stimulating your child’s imagination, as you can easily invent your own stories together by looking at what is happening in the pictures.


The Final Chapter

All of these books are well-reviewed and popular. Whether your child is shy, adventurous, loves fantasy, likes to sit still, or prefers to jump around, there’s at least one book on this list that will hook them.

Remember, reading is an essential skill in our modern world. You can help your child by teaching them in a fun way that also strengthens other skills such as their creativity, imagination, or hand-eye coordination.

So, put away the tablet and turn off the TV. Allocate some time each day to sit down with your child and read. You can start by giving some of these books a try.

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Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor from Illinois, who regularly contributes to newspapers, magazines, and websites. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.
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