Being little is hard. Being a parent of a child expected to wait quietly in public is hard too. These books are my favorites to take on long plane rides, to doctor’s office waiting rooms, and to restaurants. They are good books that engage your kids without riling them up.
Animalia by Graeme Base is amazing. Kids can lose themselves for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an over-the-top alphabet book. The pages are filled with incredibly detailed illustrations of things that start with each letter of the alphabet from A to Z. Every time I open this book I find something that I’ve never noticed before.
Can You Find It?: Search and Discover More Than 150 Details in 19 Works of Art by The Metropolitan Museum of Art is tough. This book doesn’t go easy on its readers -- even adults may have a hard time finding some of the items in each painting. What I love about it is not just that it keeps kids busy, but that it gets them looking more carefully at the art. You can start and stop, and it’s complex enough that the next day you might just forget and be able to start all over again. Perfect for school age kids, but it would be a frustrating exercise for preschoolers.
Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up by Robert Sabuda is a dinosaur fan’s dream, but it won’t just appeal to dinosaur fans. The sheer amount of information coupled with fantastic illustrations, are the bulk of what makes this such an engaging read. But the pop-up dinosaur on each page takes the cake. They not only make the book more interactive, but also more appealing to younger children, stretching its usefulness for families with more than one child.
In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner is my favorite book for long waits. This book without text follows a town and the people who live in it through every season of one year. The illustrations are very detailed, and in each season you can follow the townsfolk from page to page as they go about their daily lives. There are many stories within the illustrations that stretch all four seasons, but they are subtle and allow for the reader to put their own interpretation on them. I love the peek into a town that this book gives readers, and kids love finding their own stories within the pages.
Hello Red Fox by Eric Carle is an interactive book that not only tells a fun story but will challenge your children to trick their eyes into seeing colors on blank pages. It takes some time (yes!) but will seem like magic each and every time you open the book.