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Posted on November 18, 2022 at 10:50 AM by Genesis Gaule
Do you remember the last time a book spoke to you? Now, I’m not talking about the one that deeply touched your heart. Rather, a book where the characters leap from the page and speak directly to you, the reader–otherwise known as “breaking the fourth wall.”
Perhaps yours was The Book with No Pictures or Harold and the Purple Crayon? The one that imprinted most clearly on me is the classic Sesame Street picture book “The Monster at the End of this Book” by Jon Stone. As you turn each page, cute furry Grover, afraid there is a monster at the end of the book, (rather adorably) begs you NOT to finish the book and constructs elaborate obstacles to thwart your progress. Of course, that only builds your own curiosity as to what exactly is at the end.
Breaking the fourth wall adds an interactive–often comedic–quality to picture books. Done right, the author reaches out and immerses you directly in the book's struggles, antics, and in some cases, even allows you to help the characters solve their problems. You are no longer simply a spectator of these stories—you are an active participant!
Are you and your little one ready to become part of the story? Check out these delightful, wall-breaking reads:
When your actions influence the story/book or contain call-and-response actions
by Adam Rubin & Daniel Salmieri
From the author of kid favorite Dragons Love Tacos! Animals present their hand slapping skills to the reader, just in time for the annual high five contest.
by Richard Byrne
When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right.
by Jan Thomas
What kind of a face would you make if a tickly green bug were sitting on your nose? Or— eek!— inside your shirt? Could you make a scary face to frighten it away? Yes? Then better get to it!
by Herve Tullet
Each page of this imaginative touch book instructs the reader to push the button, shake it up, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next!
by Eric Carle
This energetic book will have young readers clapping their hands, stomping their feet, and wiggling their toes along with its colorful assortment of animals.
First person perspective (ex: "I walked to the store") with a twist!
by Jon Agee
In this sneaky, silly picture book, an intrepid—but not so clever—space explorer is certain he’s found the only living thing on Mars. Readers will love being in on a secret that is unbeknownst to the explorer.
A variation of character and reader interaction, where you become the narrator of the story
by Deborah Underwood & Hannah Marks
Every story needs a problem. But Panda doesn't have a problem. Lose control of the narrative in this delightful, funny, and adventurous ode to what makes a story—and what makes a story great.
by Carrie Tillotson & Estrela Lourenço
A banana wants to be the star of this rhyming counting book, but the narrator has other plans.
Where the book itself becomes a character or story element
by Charise Mericle Harper
This book can draw a shape. It is a "nothing shape" that can be used to draw a cat, beaver, bunny, dog, turtle, and bear...but what about a horse? The cat really wants a horse. But the book cannot draw a horse. Can the quick-draw book appease the horse-obsessed cat with an impressive collection of “nothing shape” alternatives?
by Mo Willems
Gerald and Piggie discover the joy of being read. But what will happen when the book ends? Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie books usually have at least one fourth wall breaking moment per book but this one does away with the wall entirely!
Characters who go in and out of character or make asides to the reader during the story--almost like getting a backstage pass to the action "on set"
by Julie Falatko & Tim J. Miller
Snappsy the alligator is having a perfectly normal day when a pesky narrator steps in to spice up the story.
by David LaRochelle & Mike Wohnoutka
What happens when the book gets it wrong? Max is not a cat--Max is a dog! But much to his dismay, this book keeps instructing readers to "see the cat." How can Max get through to the book that he is a dog? // Also check out the sequel: See the Dog: Three stories about a cat
Tag(s): tropes, recommendations, picture books, humor, easy fiction
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