The tagline for Growing Book by Book is, “Bring JOY and PLAY into children’s lives with books.” Every book and early literacy activity I share on this site is meant to be playful. But, books alone can celebrate and generate play too. Let’s take a look at those children’s books celebrating play.
Books for Kids Celebrating Play
Books to Encourage Playing Outdoors
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We All Play! by Julie Flett celebrates playing in nature. Children will love to see how animals play and how we can move like them too.
Did you know that you have a very important job? It’s to play! Playtime for Restless Rascals by Nikki Grimes highlights all the play we do through the seasons.
Busy Feet by Marcia Berneger focuses on the feet that allow us to do so many fun playful things. Feet jump high and low, wiggle those toes in the sand, run, and more.
Con Pollo: A Bilingual Playtime Adventure by Jimmy Fallon and Jennifer Lopez is a silly and playful book about having fun with a chicken. “Do you want to go skateboarding? OR Patinar con Pollo?
It’s pure water fun in Let’s Go Puddling! by Emma Perry. Join the kids as they hop in the puddles.
If you’ve ever been on a playground, you know the sound… The sound of the double dutch rope snapping on the ground. Get ready to jump on in when you read Jump In! by Shadra Strickland. It will have you yearning for summertime outdoor play.
Jacqueline Woodson has a way of making you feel wherever you are right down to your core. Her words are poetic, precise, and able to tug you right in. I bring you her latest picture book, The World Belonged to Us. Get ready to be transported to a hot summer in Brooklyn, NY where kids play in fire hydrants, build box forts, and more from sunup to sundown. It’s all about freedom and fun. And Leo Espinosa’s illustrations will make you reminisce about your own childhood with their nostalgic feel. Two big thumbs up for this read-aloud.
Books That Encourage Pretend Play and Creative Play
The Think-Ups by Claire Alexander is the story of two girls with creative imaginations. They each think-up a different creature and then pretend to play with each creation. They even give each other pretend names. Oh, I so remember doing this when I was a child!
You Are a Honey Bee! by Laurie Ann Thompson encourages us to act and move like a honeybee. The book is full of action words to encourage us to move and play. Also, look for You Are a Raccoon. (board book)
The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee is the story of a child who travels to his parent’s night job. There they come up with some creative play options to make the time pass.
Process art amazingness is what you will get with this book. My friend, Merideth of Homegrown Friends, created the amazing Art Play! From drawing to painting to dramatic play, Merideth shows us how to set up the space to let creativity bloom.
Every house and classroom should have blocks or other building materials. One of my favorite books to encourage building is Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale. The left side of each picture spread uses mixed-media collage to showcase children building with different play materials. The right side of each picture spread showcases a photograph of an iconic building. For example, a pillow fort is paired with Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim.
- Check out these other building books.—> Books for Block Area Play
- Also, check out my list of books that get you moving and grooving.—> Books to Get You Moving and Grooving
- When I think of creative play, boxes come to mind. Give a child a box and watch the magic happen. In fact, I created a whole list of books about boxes for you.—>Books About Boxes
Books That Inspire You to Play Right Inside the Book
Interactive books are amazing for engaging readers to play and enjoy books. One type of book that my youngest son adored was search and find type books.
My kids and students have always enjoyed Waldo books together. Now, there is a Waldo book that encourages multiple readers/viewers to enjoy the book at the same time. It’s Where’s Waldo? The Great Speed Search by Martin Handford. It’s got the feel of the Battleship Game where you each have a side of the book. Set the clock and race to find Waldo and his friends first.
Twenty Questions by Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson encourages playful conversation while reading. I love questions that have more than one “correct” answer and this book celebrates that. Get ready to be curious and full of wonder as you ponder questions such as why an elephant is upset to who has a better singing voice.
For more interactive books, I have you covered there too.
Printable Book List of Titles Celebrating Play
Grab a printable copy of the book list shared above. Just click the purple rectangular button to download.
Book Dives (Go deep inside a book!)
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