Talk to Me! When Picture Books Break The Fourth Wall

Get your child giggling, talking or hiding under the bed with these VERY interactive books.

I was the baby of my family. By the time I came around, there were plenty of readers in the house to feed my voracious appetite for stories. I have many fond, but hazy, memories of the books we shared again, again, and again. (Thank you for your patience Mom, Dad, Carri, and Chad).

One book, however, is imprinted on my brain in bold from cover to cover: There’s a Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. Published in 1971, this classic picture book broke the fourth wall with wild abandon. Grover is frightened to hear that there is a monster at the end of the book. He begs the reader not to finish the book, so as to avoid the monster. I remember exactly how I felt as we turned the pages. When Grover—from under a pile of bricks—asked, “Do you know that you are very strong?” I squealed “YES” with raucous glee.

When you, and your little ones open these books, you’ll find your favorite characters inviting YOU—the readers—to actively participate in the stories. 

Warning: The following books are NOT bedtime stories. Reading them may result in giggling, wiggling, chicken dancing, and generalized wackiness. Enjoy!

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Move over iPad! Tullet’s Press Here is giving your picture book apps a run for your money. This deceptively simple picture book begins with an invitation: “READY?” On the next page sits a yellow dot on a stark white background, and in pencil-thin print, “PRESS HERE, AND TURN THE PAGE.” “GREAT!” whoops the next page, showing a second yellow dot has appeared beside the first one. But the fun is just getting started as the dots multiply, change color, skitter around, line up, blow away, grow and much more in response to narrator’s instructions. This rip-roaring, picture book is sturdily constructed, and it will stand up to repeat readings.

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

Open this story, and you’ll meet a smiley, buck-toothed ladybug with Groucho Marx eyebrows. “Hey, you!” he shouts, “Yes, I’m talking to you! STAND UP! No, I changed my mind…SIT DOWN! No, I changed my mind AGAIN. STAND UP!” This spotted despot will lead you and yours through a madcap game of follow-the-leader. This interactive picture book is always a hit in storytime. It works best with more than one listener. Just make sure everyone has enough room to spread their pretend wings!

We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie get meta in a recent installment of the popular reader series. When Piggie discovers their favorite playing hill is actually the page of a book, the loveable pair realizes they’re being watched—or to be more exact, read. At first they relish their newfound power. They’ll make you say “banana,” and then explode with laughter. But when it dawns on them that all good things must come to an end, they must devise a way to keep the story going. In this mobius-strip-style story, the end is actually the beginning. So, if you’re confused on the first page, don’t give up! It will all make sense in the end.

Robert K. Elder November 10, 2011 at 08:55 PM
I have 3-year-old twins and we love Aliki's "Push Button Boy"!
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