For every parent who is about to embark on a long journey, activity books can offer a lifeline and help delay the inevitable ‘are we nearly there yet?’ They can also provide an inexpensive way to keep children amused on a rainy day. But when you walk into any bookshop you will be faced by a huge variety to choose from, how do you decide which ones will manage to captivate your child for more than half an hour. My girls are slightly obsessed with sticker books but realistically they fail to keep them occupied for more than a short period of time. So I decided to test three very different books with my girls to see if anyone of them would pass the longevity test.
Playing with Food – Louise Lockhart
‘Playing With Food’ is a bumper fun filled activity book all about food. From designing a menu for a café to decorating a dream ice cream sundae to filling in a bento box, this interactive book invites children to think about how food is grown, prepared, cooked and presented. Louise Lockhart’s bright and vivid illustrations serve up a smorgasbord of creative treats for everyone from fussy eaters to budding chefs.
There are so many activities to delight children of all ages it will stimulate their imaginations and keep them busy dreaming up new and exciting foods whilst encourage them to open their minds to trying new foods. One of my favourite activities is the New Food Log which invites the child to try one new food every day and record their response, perfect to encourage them to try something different on holiday. We have also found it a welcome distraction whilst waiting for food to arrive in restaurants, helping us to enjoy a leisurely dinner rather than feeling too rushed. A unique and truly interactive activity book this really stands out for me as being excellent value and wonderfully creative.
Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book – Zelda Turner and Ben Newman
‘Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book’ is an out of this world activity book from Zelda Turner and Ben Newman. Has your child been inspired by Tim Peake’s journey into space and do they dream of exploring distant planets and finding out more about the galaxy in which we live, then this is the activity book for them. Professor Astrocat is here to help them on their mission, packed with amazing experiments, thrilling facts and create-your-own adventures, his Intergalactic Activity Book offers a universe of excitement, and is bursting with ideas for a future at the frontiers of space!
My girls were thrilled to explore this activity book having devoured both of the Professor Astrocat books ‘Frontiers of Space’ and ‘Atomic Adventure’ discovering that it is full of hands on activities to keep them amused on any rainy days that might occur on holiday. We loved The Space Gloves test which challenges our budding astronauts to recreate the reality of carrying out routine activities in space, checking if your fingers are strong and nimble enough to do the job. This provided much hilarity as we tried typing our name on a computer keyboard wearing rubber gloves, gardening gloves and thick woollen gloves all at once! Ben Newman’s bold, striking illustrations capture the energy and excitement of space exploration. Educational and fun this will satisfy the most knowledgeable of space fans enabling them to be fully prepared to take flight into the universe beyond our skies.
Historium – Richard Wilkinson and Jo Nelson
Get hands on in the museum, and discover ancient worlds in the ‘Historium Activity Book’ curated by Richard Wilkinson and Jo Nelson. If you’re planning a trip to a museum over the holidays or your child is curious about civilisations from the past, this sophisticated activity book will provide hours of entertainment for older children. Packed with puzzles to solve, pictures to colour, doodling, drawing your child will learn some amazing facts on the way as they journey into the ancient world. Find your way through an Aztec maze, decorate an Egyptian mummy or create your own Greek vase, this myriad of activities help children discover something new and encourages them to use their imagination to the full.
‘Historium’ invites children to take a virtual exploration of a museum, they can wander from room to room filled with artefacts from different eras. Insightful and fascinating it stands out with its sublimely, detailed illustrations from Richard Wilkinson offering a world of information which entices you to keep delving back into to find out more. I feel it is ideally suited to artistic children who like to devote their time to create intricate drawings because some of the activities are incredibly detailed. An inspiring activity book designed to appeal to the most inquisitive and curious of minds.
Thank you to Cicada Books, Flying Eye Press and Big Picture Press for sending me copies of these books you might have just saved my sanity during the summer holidays.