12 of the best interactive books for babies and toddlers

From lift-the-flaps and pop-ups to textures and sounds, there is an endless choice of interactive books out there to engage inquisitive little readers.

These stories aren’t just fun novelties however. By encouraging your child to touch and explore the pages, you are boosting their independence, hand-eye coordination and understanding of cause and effect.

Not only are these books built for prodding and poking, they also lend themselves nicely to repeated reading (a penchant of any toddler) because your tot’s level of involvement grows over time.

Your heart will swell with pride seeing your little one finally lift a flap or press the button that you once had to activate yourself.

1. I Thought I Saw A Lion! by Lydia Nichols. £5.99 (board book), Templar

Every child loves a game of hide and seek – and in this stylish but silly book, they get to hunt a sneaky lion who is lurking around town.

Is it in the library? Perhaps it’s in the fancy dress shop? Or at the hairdresser? Simply push and pull the easy-to-operate sliders for comical reveals of the cheeky big cat hiding under the hairdryer or trying on a period costume.

The illustrations by Lydia Nichols, whose doodles regularly appear on Google, are an absolutely hoot, so much so that you’ll want to invest in the many other editions too. Buy from Amazon

2. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. £6.99 (board book), Puffin

The story that introduced generations of children to mischievous puppy Spot is such a classic that it’s often forgotten how groundbreaking it was back in 1980. Creator Eric Hill struggled to get this very first lift-the-flap book published but once he did, it was an instant bestseller.

Your child will be desperate to help Spot’s mum Sally hunt for him at teatime, looking under rugs, inside grandfather clocks and behind doors, to be confronted by an array of animals normally seen at the zoo. It’s a great way to introduce the concept of locations and positions too, not to mention lots of fun. Buy from Amazon

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3. Are You There Little Tiger? by Sam Taplin, illustrated by Essi Kimpimaki. £5.99 (board book), Usborne

Search and explore the jungle as your hunt for the tiger cub, who is hidden within this book from the Usborne Little-Peep Through series.

The sturdy pages contain clever cut-outs which trick young readers into think the elusive animal is just a turn away – but each time it is another cute creature, like a monkey, bear or chameleon.

There are textured surfaces to engage curious fingers and the holes are perfect for peeping through. Also look out for the elephant, unicorn and rabbit versions, plus reindeer one for Christmas. Buy from Amazon

4. Listen To The Farm by Marion Billet. £6.99 (board book), Nosy Crow

What this colourful book lacks in plot, it makes up for with volume. But while most toys and books with noise are highly irritating to say the least, this one avoids annoyance by using real-life sounds.

All six of Marion Billet’s charming illustrations of different farm animals are accompanied by a simple line of text, inviting the reader to press a sound sensor and hear the horse neighing or pigs playing in the mud.

It’s easy to operate, meaning your baby will soon learn how to activate the noises on their own, and can be switched off if needed. There are lots of other themes in the range too, including jungle, Christmas songs and birds. Buy from Amazon

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That's Not My Puppy

5. That’s Not My Puppy by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells. £6.99 (board book), Usborne

It’s more than 20 years since this first edition of this touchy-feely book series was published and now there are more than 55 titles to choose from.

The simple sensory reads with their repetitive language, bold illustrations and chunky pages are perfect first books for babies and equally enjoyable for curious toddlers.

Make sure you look out for the little white mouse who narrates – the only character to appear in every single edition (and on every page!). Buy from Amazon

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6. Where’s Baby Chick? by Ingela P. Arrhenius. £6.99 (board book), Nosy Crow

Ingela P. Arrhenius’s range of hide-and-seek Where? books are a stroke of genius: artwork as brightly coloured as a pack of Mini Eggs paired with a cast of cute characters, all hidden behind tactile (and virtually indestructible) felt flaps.

And after finding chicks, bunnies, lambs and kittens in this Spring-themed version, there is a sweet surprise at the end. No, it’s not a chocolate egg – it’s a mirror so your child can play a game of peekaboo with themselves. Buy from Amazon

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7. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. £6.99 (board books), Macmillan

There’s lots of laughs and surprise to be had with this Eighties-tastic lift-the-flap book, one of the originals of the genre.

Rod Campbell cleverly uses the flaps as crates and boxes, revealing a series of weird and wonderful animals from the zoo in an attempt to find the perfect pet.

Both boys have lit up reading this as babies, becoming enthusiastic crate openers as their motor skills have developed. A classic that every bookshelf needs. Buy from Amazon

What we’re reading: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

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8. Don’t Tickle The Hippo. £12.99 (board books), Usborne

This tactile sound book combines the joys of Usborne’s That’s Not My series with lots of amusing animal noises, as your child makes parrots squawk and bears growl by touching their fur and feathers.

Its been a huge hit with both Baby Bookworm and his little brother, and a real joy to see them enjoying the story together at bedtime. A perfect gift for babies through to preschoolers and the range has already got a couple more titles to choose from. Buy from Amazon

Why we love… Don’t Tickle The Hippo

9. Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, What Can You See? by Jo Lodge. £6.99 (board book), Campbell

This witty slider book sees a little fly journey through the pages, buzzing past different animals until he reaches a sticky end.

The text is a gentle rhyme that is slyly educational, referencing the different senses which are matched with an equivalent slider action.

Your child will have great fun moving the cat’s eyes and waggling the donkey’s ears (especially as the slider holes are nice and chunky) – and let out a wicked laugh when the fox’s mouth goes chomp! Buy from Amazon

10. Let’s Eat by Jane Foster. £9.99 (board book), Templar

This interactive version of the textile designer Jane Foster’s cool first concepts books is a delicious treat. Let’s Eat combines her bold Scandi and Sixties-influenced illustrations with very clever interactive elements.

There are flaps to lift, wheels to spin and sliders to push, as the book takes your child through the different meals of the day.

Our copy is devoured with relish by Baby Bookworm, who loves buttering the toast, peeling the banana and pouring the milk. Bonus points for the healthy food choices too! Buy from Amazon

Our full review of Jane Foster’s Let’s Eat!

11. Poppy and Sam and the Bunny by Sam Taplin. £7.99 (board book), Usborne

Apple Tree Farm residents Poppy and Sam go all Alice in Wonderland in this adventure, following the trail of a mysterious little rabbit who hops across the sheep field one morning.

Babies will adore this interactive board book, with a pop-through bunny finger puppet who you can manipulate to eat the carrots, sneeze at the flowers and snuggle her family at the end.

There are plenty of educational elements too, such as a yellow duck to spot on each page and animal noises to mimic. Buy from Amazon

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12. Bizzy Bear: Deepsea Diver by Benji Davies. £5.99 (board book), Nosy Crow

Grab your wetsuit and jump aboard the submarine with Bizzy Bear for an underwater adventure. This simple story by bestselling author Benji Davies sees our captain and his animal crew sail through shoals of fish, past spooky shipwrecks and encounter a giant clam filled with treasure.

It’s all brought to life with sliders to push and pull, making your child part of events and rewarding them with some exciting surprises. They’ll love joining in with the catchy repetitive text, too. Buy from Amazon

More perfect reads for babies and toddlers…

Teach your child about the works around them with the Baby 101 series

16 of the best first Christmas board books

Learn colours and numbers with Nosy Crow’s Early Learning at the Museum books

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