Do you enjoy suspending disbelief when you read? For me it can be like entering into a secret pact with the book, forming a special bond of trust, being cocooned in little bubble of escapism and magic.
It seems to me that children’s books can be especially brilliant at enabling, encouraging their readers to suspend disbelief, to enter into another world where the events described or drawn on paper really do happen, really do exist. Perhaps calling it a suspension of disbelief isn’t accurate; could it be that kids still believe in the magic in some sense?
Press Here by Hervé Tullet is the book that’s got me thinking about how and why we as readers suspend disbelief. It’s a brilliantly simple, brilliantly magical interactive, imaginative book that deserves to be inside many children’s Christmas presents this year.
At first glance this book might not startle you. There’s not much more to its physical presence than a yellow dot and a few simple instructions directed at the reader. There are no lavish illustrations and no poetic text. But put the book into your hands, or even better the hands of some slightly curious children, and Puff! you’ll be surrounded by enchantment.
You’ll be asked to push buttons, tap buttons, blow onto the page or even clap at the book and suddenly you’ll be possessed with supernatural powers to create, to make disappear, to turn all the lights off, and more. Who doesn’t enjoy (the idea of) having magic in their fingertips?
Tullet is a creator par excellence of books that get their readers doing things, forming physical (as well as emotional) bonds with the books. This summer’s big hit with M was Tullet’s The Scribble Book – an activity book that appealed enormously to her love of being active and wild and slightly out of control! (You can read my review of it here.)
I also have stashed away for a rainy day The Book with a Hole; it’s one of those children’s books I want to keep for myself I think it’s so much fun (and it would go marvellously well with this activity described by The Artful Parent).
First we made a button machine; literally a machine covered in buttons to press, and when you pressed them magical, wonderful things happened.
We selected some especially tactile buttons…
…we covered a box in silver foil and then attached our buttons using blobs of playdough (so that when we pressed on the buttons there was a big of “give”).
You had to be careful which buttons you pressed – some turned you into princesses, others into dinosaurs. Some made chocolate cake appear from thin air, others drenched you in bogey soup. Some filled the air with the sound of bells, whilst others gave you electric shocks! We had lots of fun discovering what they all did
Whilst I was upstairs putting laundry away the girls then took it upon themselves to create a switch machine using old buckles in our button box. Again, you had to be careful about turning these switches on and off; before you knew it you could be transported to the jungle or made invisible.
I know a book has been an especially big hit with my girls when they can’t stop thinking of ideas they want to make real, inspired by what they’ve read. So when M and J told me they wanted to make their own version of Press Here I needed no further convincing that we had a very special book in our hands.
The girls decorated their book cover with circle stamps (corks and paint).
They filled an accordion book with circles of fabric and then wrote down what would happen if you touched, pressed, stroked or even licked each circle.
Many of the magical results were inspired by how the various fabrics felt or looked.
Whilst we played with buttons and made buttons to press we listened to:
Other activities which might be fun along side reading Press Here include:
What books have you and your kids enjoyed recently where you’ve been encouraged to do more than “just” read them?