Do more with a book
The interactive puzzle book is not new. There are plenty of examples of ‘search-and-find’ or ‘spot-the’ books on the shelves, these have traditionally been aimed at individual readers or small groups of children who will enjoy trying to find a person or object on the pages of the book. Whilst these books are fun and encourage children to learn and discover not only books but facts what I have learnt and discovered is that publishers are creating ever-more exciting ways to engage children in reading and learning. These are not, necessarily, in the traditional style of a book either.
Laurence King Publishing are publishers of books and gifts on the creative arts. Since 1991 they have been appealing to that one thing which we all love, have, but don’t use properly – IMAGINATION. To help us use our imaginations to better effect we may need prompting and this is where the Laurence King offering fits so well. Their creative ideas, their inspiration, is evident in abundance when one searches their website and their catalogue. Look at the names of illustrators, designers, artists and photographers they work with then look at how inventive, beautiful and instructive their publications are.
Pavilion Books is another independent publisher, established in 2014 it now produces an annual list of around 150 books for children a year. These range from activity and sticker books to colouring books, non-fiction and fiction titles, within the 0-8+ range. All are written, illustrated and produced by some of the top names in children’s books and they also work with brands such as the National Trust to reach children in multiple arenas. They have branched out now to begin producing interactive learning materials for children and I was lucky enough to be the recipient of Paul Farrell’s Build A Castle box set.
If you need further convincing then the following samples of their work will, I hope, prove just how good they are and how wide their appeal is. The web editor and I have been testing them out on our nieces, nephews and their parents, every game has been a huge success. The games have found their way to my parents’ house where they have been fought over – all the children wanting to take them home! - BUT they have stayed with my parents where they still are, where we add to the collection and where we regularly gather for more gaming fun. So, how do the games hold up physically? Well no one tires of playing as one never knows if they may be the winner; there is constant questioning about the elements of the different games and they remain complete as everyone wants to take care of them so they can play again, and again and again!
Alice in Wonderland Story Box
Alice in Wonderland Story Box by Anne Laval provides children and adults alike with the opportunity to use their imaginations, tell and retell a classic story. The box is filled with 20 storytelling puzzle pieces, printed on both sides for interchanging or flipping over, allowing for a variety of plots and endings. If you were to use them all they would stretch to an enormous 8 feet - do make sure you have enough room! Add to the mix the witty illustrations including White Rabbit in Converse, the Queen of Hearts in a pink limo and much more besides. Words accompany the pictures but above all else these cards prompt discussion, engagement and interactive fun for the whole family.
The Bauhaus Ballet
Next comes a trip to the ballet, the Bauhaus Ballet to be exact. Drawing their inspiration from The Bauhaus Triadic Ballet both author and illustrator invite their readers in to explore colour, shape, pattern and movement in ways that will enthral. Wondering what this ballet is? It’s a 1922 costume ballet by Oskar Schlemmer, in three acts with three dancers and three colours. Now this ground-breaking ballet has been transformed into a masterful pop-up work of art with words by Gabby Dawnay and illustrations by Lesley Barnes. Remember to interact with as well as enjoy reading this book – you can make the figures move and perhaps you might be inspired to develop your own ideas using these figures to create performances from your own imagination.
Match a Mummy
My current favourite, though I am biased as an Egyptologist myself, is Match a Mummy. The Ancient Egypt Memory Game. All children discover the ancient Egyptians as part of their history learning at KS2. This game would work as well in a school setting as a home for it is educational and fun. Make sure to keep hold of the enclosed booklet which explains which cards pair up (this is not as obvious as the title may suggest) and provides historical and cultural background information. With suitably vibrant illustration by Léa Maupetit, text by Anna Claybourne and research in partnership with the British Museum this box is a treasure trove of fun and history.
Build a Castle
If like me you are a history lover and have grown up exploring castles and other ruins, perhaps you are taking your children to enjoy such historical fun(?). If so then you, like me, will be drawn to the 64 slot-together cards for creative fun that end in a castle. Paul Farrell’s Build A Castle is a sturdy box of bright, solid cards which easily slot together to allow little hands to create their very own castle-like structures. Not only can children learn the ins and outs of slotting the cards together and the logic of building, but they can look at and learn about the colours too. Add to this the opportunity to ask questions about detail printed on each card, I encourage you to read the enclosed leaflet, you can learn more about castles. Each card is packed full of bright bold detail and information and because there are 64 of them there are a variety of castles to be built, each time.