Remember those old I Spy books from the early 90s — intricate pictures jam-packed with baubles and what-nots, a visual treasure hunt inviting you to find various items? I loved those books as a kid. Now that I’m a parent I especially appreciate looking at these type of books with my daughter.
With summer on the horizon and endless hours of unstructured time ahead, it’s helpful to have a handful of interactive books to keep kids’ minds sharp. Seek-and-find books are perfect for that. Not to mention they work well for road trips, long flights, or just a quiet evening at home. In addition, seek-and-find books are a really wonderful way to unplug for a while and connect with your kids, no matter their age.
Plus, nothing beats boosting kids’ confidence through conquering a slightly tricky task.
Take a peek at these nine engaging books and discover what fun it is to uncover a needle in a haystack.
Undercover: One of These Things Is Almost Like The Others by Bastien Contraire
Look closely at everyday items (leaves, automobiles, hats, vegetables, clothes, birds, and ice cream cones to name a few) and spot the odd-one-out in this duotone delight. Especially useful for young readers just learning first concepts.
Where’s The Elephant? by Barroux
Parrot, Elephant, and Snake have escaped their urban surroundings and are on the hunt for a more natural environment. Uncover the camouflaged trio as their hiding spots dwindle due to encroaching development. A thoughtful way to discuss conservation and urban sprawl with children.
Now I Know My Avocados by Stephanie Wykoff
This desert-inspired palette is perfect for children just learning the alphabet, although older readers can similarly test their knowledge too. Each page features objects that start with the associated letter of the alphabet (e.g., duck, dolphin, donut, deer, drums). A key at the back of the book will illuminate the more than 150+ items found throughout.
Find Me: A Hide-and-Seek Book by Anders Arhoj
Two animal-like friends cavort through various locales, each trying to find the other. The catch? Each character changes colors along the way. Young kids will especially appreciate the wide-eyed whimsical world and the appealing cut-out holes on the front and back cover.
The Lost House by B.B.Cronin
Grandad has promised to take his grandchildren to the park, but he needs some help locating a few lost things first. Follow the perplexed trio through the house, where each room is devoted to a single color. This rainbow wonder is a bit tricky, but made slightly easier by noticing the items needed on the opening page. Once you’ve mastered this one, The Lost Picnic is a vibrant, slightly less arduous, follow-up.
Disappearing Acts: A Search-and-Find Book of Endangered Animals by Isabella Bunnell
While we wholeheartedly endorse all the books on this list, this might be our very favorite. One look at the cover and you’ll notice how masterfully illustrated each habitat is. Bold colors and intricate patterns permeate this book, while sweeping spreads convey a lifelike movement to each landscape. In addition to identifying 5-6 animals in each locale, readers will find the nonfiction facts at the back of the book an insightful way to learn more about endangered species.
Walkabout Orchestra: Postcards from around the world by Chloé Perarnau
Maestro is ready for the performance but first he must locate the members of his orchestra by trapesing the globe to uncover their whereabouts. An excellent primer for introducing children to both geography and Music 101. As a bonus, a little yellow bird (found on each spread) is looking for something entirely different from the missing musicians.
Look for Ladybug in Plant City by Katherina Manolessou
This is the latest addition to our home library and what a treat. Help Daisy and Basil search for Ladybug throughout Plant City and while you’re on the lookout, be sure to spot the mice, bees, and other hidden characters found in each scene. A fantastic book for the entire family!
Pierre the Maze Detective: The Mystery of the Empire Maze Tower By Chihiro Maruyama and illustrated by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4DESIGN
An edifice unlike any other, Empire Maze Tower is a mass of challenges and hidden objects. With designated starting places and end goals noted on each page, plus an assortment of hidden items and a cast of neutral and nefarious characters, this complex seek-and-find will keep curious readers engaged for hours.
Miranda Rosbach is a librarian turned children’s book reviewer and stay-at-home-mama. In her spare time, she likes scouting new restaurants and colorful murals. She lives in St.Louis with her husband and two daughters. You can visit her page My Book Bloom to learn more.