Off the Shelf Books with creative formats entice all readers

Take a break from predictable prose with these unique books that use multimedia, wordplay and even cutouts to tell stories. Even the most reluctant readers will find something to like in these innovative tales. Special thanks to our friend at The Ivy Bookshop, Rona Sue London, for always adding to our list when we think we’ve reached the end.

Board/Toddler Books

“TouchThinkLearn: ABC” by Xavier Deneux
Most ABC books rely on images alone to teach the alphabet, but this innovative board book uses textures and cutouts to go from A to Z. The colorful, tactile geometric designs add another dimension to learning letters. (Chronicle Books)

“LOOK!” by Edouard Manceau
With a cutout in the middle, search for something new on every page of this board book. It changes perspective as you read, engaging young readers with their surroundings and encouraging children to observe their world. Simple designs add to the delight. (Owlkids)

Picture Books

“Open This Little Book” by Jesse Klausmeier
Books within books within books is what you’ll find when you open this little book. Four characters are all reading their own stories, but when their friend can’t open his, the group teams up to help him share in the fun. (Chronicle Books)

“Ah-Ha To Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt,” Smithsonian Design Museum by Maira Kalman
“If you were starting a museum, what would you put in your collection?” Kalman teaches that design affects every aspect of life—including the alphabet! Featuring 31 objects from the Smithsonian Design Museum, this book will captivate children and adults alike with hand-lettered text and whimsical illustrations. (Skira Rizzoli)

“Box” by Min Flyte
What would you do with a box? When four children find cardboard boxes, they explore the creative possibilities. This book includes flaps and fold-out pages to help readers join in the fun. (Nosy Crow)

“The Book with No Pictures” by B.J. Novak
A picture book with no pictures sounds like it isn’t a picture book at all. This book, written by comedian B.J. Novak, uses silly sentences, words and sounds in place of illustrations for a playful take on a “picture” book. (Dial Books)

Middle Readers

“365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Precepts” by R.J. Palacio
This companion to bestseller “Wonder” gives a window into the world beyond the original novel, by featuring a quote for every day of the year, chosen from figures like Anne Frank and Archimedes. (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

“Marvels” by Brian Selznick
By the author of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” this book tells two independent stories, the first in illustrations in Selznick’s detailed style, the second in prose. The tales are separated by a 100 years, urging the reader to find the connection. (Scholastic Press)

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-Up Adaptation,” illustrated by Robert Sabuda
Lewis Carroll’s classic about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole into a mysterious, magical world is brought to life with detailed and unique pop-ups that make Wonderland even more wonderful. (Little Simon)

Young Adults

“Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness
Conor, whose mother is terminally ill, wakes up to a monster calling his name. What does it want? The truth. Inspired by the final idea of Siobhan Dowd, who died from cancer before she wrote it herself, this story weaves dramatic illustrations with a sad and darkly funny story. (Candlewick)

“Words in Deep Blue” by Cath Crowley
Rachel and Henry were best friends until Rachel moved away. Now she’s returned to work with him at his family’s bookshop, to distract herself from her brother’s death. Told in alternating perspectives and letters hidden in books, Rachel and Henry’s love story is as much about them as it is about the power of words. (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

“Solo” by Kwame Alexander
Blade Morrison knows firsthand being a celebrity isn’t pure glamour. His ex-rocker alcoholic father is trying to make a comeback, landing Blade’s family in tabloids weekly. Written entirely in verse, this coming-of-age story explores forbidden love, self-discovery and the consequences of one giant family secret. (Blink)

About Katrina Schmidt

Baltimore's Child is written by parents like you. Want to contribute? Email us at [email protected].

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