5 Benefits of Reading Interactive Books

Teacher reading a book with a class of preschool childrenWhen I was a preschool teacher, I started every day by reading a book. Sometimes the book related to a theme topic, sometimes it addressed a social-emotional concern, and sometimes it was just for fun! I happen to love concept books, especially those that encourage interaction. This May, FunShine® offered Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? by Jane Caston in our preschool kit. A couple years ago, we were fortunate to offer Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson in our infant/toddler kit. Such books bring me joy because I know how much children love them. Interactive books such as these help children build so many literacy skills, but most importantly, they hold children’s attention, create suspense, and provoke wonder.

DougWill You Help Doug Find His Dog? is sure to attract enthusiastic and reluctant readers alike. Children are invited to help Doug find his dog at a busy park by patting, tickling, and using other clues to interact with each page. There is a surprise ending that reveals why the dog was hard to find, and readers learn Doug’s beloved pet was right under his nose the whole time!

Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? is just one of many interactive books available (see the end of this post for a recommended list). There are also many types of interactive books, including lift-the-flap, pull tab, search and find, and those that make noises or include illustrations with textural components. Books such as Will You Help Doug Find His Dog? enable children to participate in storytelling and even influence a story’s outcome. Keeping a few interactive books in your reading rotation will undoubtedly make for meaningful story times. Children will also benefit in substantial ways. Among the many benefits, it’s worth highlighting that interactive books:

  1. Set the stage for inquiry. No matter what type of interactive book you are reading, it’s always possible to ask questions about the illustrations, images, or text. For example, in Will You Help Doug Find His Dog?, from the very beginning, there’s opportunity to ask questions about vocabulary and illustrations when Doug describes his dog as “scruffy.” An obvious follow-up question from a child or educator might be “What does scruffy mean? What does scruffy look like?” The following page allows for observation and analysis as children look closely at each dog to identify which ones are scruffy and which are not.
  2. Invite children to make predictions. As children engage with interactive books, there’s often time to pause and wonder “What will happen next?” As is the case with Will You Help Doug Find His Dog?, from the beginning of Tap the Magic Tree, the invitation to predict what will happen next is wide open. The story begins, “There’s magic in this bare brown tree. Tap it once. Turn the page to see.” Before turning the page, the educator can invite children into the magic by asking, “What do you think will happen? Let’s predict what type of magic might be hidden in this tree.” Prediction reels the reader into a story and makes a game of what could happen. Educators can use this as an opportunity to assess comprehension skills as the story progresses; do children’s predictions become more accurate?
  3. Encourage hands-on learning. Maybe this benefit is the most obvious! Interactive books encourage children to press, lift, turn, flip, listen, whisper, shout, etc. These opportunities engage the mind, the body, and the senses, setting the stage for meaningful learning opportunities.Little girl reading favorite book at home.
  4. Create natural space and time to practice book handling. Book handling is a fundamental early literacy skill. Ideally as children learn to hold and care for books, turn pages, and read from left to right, their appreciation for books grows. Such skills are often taught in the context of story or circle time, however, interactive books offer a natural entry point. Touching the book is essential to understanding it.
  5. Make following directions fun! Learning how to follow directions is important across the learning domains and for children’s development. However, teaching children how to follow directions can pose challenges. With interactive books, children are learning to follow directions while doing something fun. Learning how to follow directions with interactive books supports children in experiencing positives outcomes based on their effort.

Add some of these recommended titles to your library. They’re great for all ages and promise to entertain and surprise!

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