The Best Pop-Up Books to Give Kids a Multi-Sensory Reading Experience

These stories jump off the page (literally) and come to life.

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Best Pop-Up Books

Parents / David Hattan

Traditional books are wonderful, but there’s something special about a pop-up book with impressive paper illustrations that jump out at you, or flaps you can pull or lift to enhance the story. The best pop-up books are interactive, teach why visualization is important, and provide a multi-sensory experience.

With a typical book, children use their vision and their hearing (if the story is being read aloud to them), explains pediatric occupational therapist Diana Fitts of The Sensory Toolbox. Pop-up books engage the sense of touch; when children lift the flaps on a peekaboo page or grab a 3D character, they need to use their vision, hearing, and sense of touch all at once, Fitts adds. Additionally, incorporating three senses into one activity is a nice way to help children develop their sensory systems and tolerate multi-sensory experiences moving forward.

In order to find the best pop-up books for kids, we studied the design and material of more than 20 books on the market. When reviewing products, we considered age recommendations, material, ease of use, reading levels, design, and overall value. Moreover, we spoke with two pediatric occupational therapists about the benefits of pop-up books and what to look for in reading material for children. We chose pop-up books for kids that will engage children (and adults) and earn an important spot in your at-home library.

Our Favorite Pop-Up Books

The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings

The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings


This book explores feelings through the use of 3D “monsters” in a variety of colors; according to Fitts, the story covers the important topic of “emotional regulation.” Feelings explored include happy, sad, angry, calm, fear, and love, so kids can connect with their conflicting emotions at any moment.

“While kids get the great sensory benefits of the pop-up elements, they are also able to learn about their emotions through the story,” adds Fitts. Recommended age: 3-7

Price at time of publication: $25

One Red Dot

One Red Dot


Created by author and artist David A. Carter, this book mostly features pop-up sculptures that immediately stand up when you turn the page. The artwork inside is manipulated by pulling a little paper tab (arrow), which makes the 3D designs move. It contains nine spreads in total, and kids are encouraged to find one red dot on every page. The whimsy words inside hint where the dot is per spread, and watching the pop-outs fold up neatly back in the book when pages are turned is pretty cool. Recommended age: 4-8

Price at time of publication: $33

The Ultimate Book of Vehicles: From Around the World

The Ultimate Book of Vehicles: From Around the World


Kids who love anything that goes VROOM will get a real kick out of this one. There’s no actual story here; it’s a bunch of beautifully illustrated vehicles (including a spaceship, because that counts as a mode of transportation!) with flaps, 3D pop-ups, wheels that spin, and more, that really enhance the machines on paper and bring them to life. Every page has something interactive for kids to explore. On the educational side, it also features vehicles from other countries, expanding kids’ cultural horizons. Rich in detail, it’s an impressive, durable book, but note it’s easy for the tabs, flaps, and 3D artwork to rip or be crinkled by small hands. Recommended age: 5-8

Price at time of publication: $23

Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-Up

Cookie Count: A Tasty Pop-up


This yummy pop-up book looks good enough to eat, and we mean it. Every page features a realistic-looking dessert that just springs up in front of you, taunting you with its sugary goodness. With 10 pop-up pictures of a baker’s bounty, kids are encouraged to count the mice they spot on each page. Good to note: One of the pop-ups is an intricate pinwheel that you might want to adjust properly before handing the book to your youngster. Recommended age: 3+

Price at time of publication: $7

My Best Pop-Up Space Book

My Best Pop-up Space Book


Many kids—including mine—are fascinated with space. They can’t get enough of the big world surrounding them, and if your kids are like my kids, love spewing out planet facts. Thankfully, there’s an impressive sensory book about space for kids they’ll forever cherish. Consider this pop-up phenomenon your child’s first guide to the solar system. There’s a button on the book’s cover that makes a blast-off sound, so it’s a pop-up and more, which is always impressive vs. traditional board books. Pages include shiny stars, a full spread of the solar system, and more. There are pop-up surprises on each page. Recommended age: 3-5

Price at time of publication: $16

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?

Where Is Baby's Belly Button?


This basic pop-up book is an Amazon best-seller—it’s one of those simple baby items you just need because it’s so practical and beloved by cuties worldwide. (My own daughters adore this book.) In a lift-the-flap manner, it teaches toddlers about object constancy (peekaboo) and where their body parts—in particular, the belly button—are located. The flaps are large, making them easy for young kids to touch and lift up and down, but they blend a bit too well into the illustrations, so you initially may need to help your child find the lift flap within the picture to see which body part is underneath. (For example, under the hat are the baby’s eyes.)

“This book has single-focus pages for body parts, which is good for engagement with your child by having them identify parts on themselves and others,” says pediatric occupational therapist Tala Brinderson of Infinity Kids, in Lake Forest, Calif. “Pop-up books are great for young kids because they are interactive, brightly illustrated, and keep kids curious.” Recommended age: 1-4.

Price at time of publication: $6

Where’s Spot?

Where's Spot?


The Spot book series, featuring a lovable and nosey animated dog, has been around for generations. This is book #1 in the collection with tons of lift flaps, which serve a greater purpose than just uncovering what Spot the dog finds with his nose behind a door, under the bed, and so forth. According to Brinderson, when kids lift flaps up and down, they’re zeroing in on their tactile input and understanding how to use their fingers, as well as their imaginations, as they wonder what Spot will find next. “Additionally, Where’s Spot? helps with building language, including core vocabulary and prepositions,” adds Brinderson. Recommended age: 1-3

Price at time of publication: $8

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-up Adaptation


There’s nothing like a classic, especially in children’s literature. Better for older kids, this Victorian-era-themed version of Alice in Wonderland stays loyal to author Lewis Carroll’s original story. The 3D illustrations are inspired by the works of John Tenniel, a famed Alice in Wonderland illustrator. It’s pricier, but that’s because it goes above and beyond your typical pop-up book. The rich 3D details are incredible—for example, in the famous Mad Hatter tea party scene, not only does the table pop up, but so do the saucers. When Alice encounters the Queen of Hearts, a realistic card arch opens across the whole page like a rainbow. The text is on the side of the pages, and the impressive 3D pictures are in the center. Recommended age: 4-8

Price at time of publication: $40

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