Books in Disguise: Transformation

Watching something change into something entirely different is fascinating to our brains. Whether it's a Monarch butterfly emerging from a chrysalis built by a caterpillar, a costume change that happens in an instant, or a magician turning a bird into a shower of flower petals, transformation has that "wow factor" that delights people of all ages. Let your child take control of the transformation with something like a lift-the-flap book. A positive experience with a showy surprise can help children learn to handle the many changes in everyday life -- from unexpected disruptions in routine to big life milestones.


Take a look at these titles I've gathered to find your ideal book "in disguise"!

Books that show... Transformation


One of my biggest "bang for the buck" storytime books is a pop-up called One Red Dot. I tend to use it for my final visit of the school year, as a treat. This format instantly grabs the attention of kindergarteners all the way through third grade and occasionally above. And everyone wants to touch the book. I set expectations that only the librarian can touch this one, so that it stays just as beautiful in my collection over the years and visits many classrooms and events. You might see some that are marked for in-library use only. But there are lots of pop-up books or books with moving parts that can be checked out. You might try the companion books 600 Black Spots or Yellow Square, or meet some surprising dinosaurs, witches, and zoo animals. All we ask when you check out any item from the library is that you be careful with it. Tell us if you find (or start) a tear or if a piece doesn't work the way it's supposed to, so we can fix it up before it goes out again. That way we can share it with more friends and neighbors and everyone can enjoy it. Isn't that lesson great for a child's development?

Looking for a Halloween-themed surprise? Check out one of the many copies of What's in the Witch's Kitchen?. Pull the flap open one way and you might see just the everyday canned contents of a cupboard. But reverse the flap and you'll uncover some spooky secrets! You might also explore Go Away, Big Green Monster!, which removes the various parts of a monster -- horns, teeth, scraggly purple hair -- one at a time until the scary monster is gone. The repetition of the title phrase can help kids build confidence in banishing their fears. (A similar title is Tickle Monster, where the monster parts eventually transform into a peaceful night scene.)

The reigning champion of the transformation game, though, is Robo-Sauce. Whipped up by the creators of such tasty tales as Dragons Love Tacos, opens a new window and The Ice Cream Machine, opens a new window, this silly story is about a kid whose secret recipe turns everything in his world -- friends, parents, dog -- into robot versions. (Robots are waaaay more fun.) But about halfway through, the Robo-sauce spills and covers the whole book... the actual, physical book in your hands... which breaks the fourth wall and becomes a ROBO-BOOK. Turn it upside-down and inside out and reverse the dustjacket... ta-daaaaa!  (Take it from a pro: you'll want to practice this a couple times in private first. But it's a spectacle that early learners will adore.)

Play is one of the 5 things we ask grownups to do to encourage literacy in young children -- and it can absolutely transform learning! Hope you enjoy these books.