What’s All the Flap About?: Lift-A-Flap Novelty Books

In a recent interview, Eastern Sierra Book Festival organizer Jennifer Crittenden asked about my upcoming novelty book, Love Can Come in Many Ways (Chronicle). She specifically wanted to know more about the flaps—how do they benefit young children who might enjoy this novelty book? The former Montessori teacher in me kicked in but her question got me thinking further. I thought I’d share here just how “lift-a-flap” novelty books benefit young children.

To begin, babies, toddlers and young children learn through their senses. They glean information from their environment by touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, and seeing. This explains why babies instinctively put things in their mouths! So, novelty books with sensory-based features, such as flaps (using the tactile sense), will give the youngest readers an opportunity to experience a book using multiple senses. Little ones will be able to touch the flap, feel its texture, see its beautiful color, and lift it up to reveal what’s underneath (working fine motor skills and kinesthetic development).

And speaking of lifting the flap, doing so gives young readers some empowerment in the story experience. It gives them control over revealing what’s under the flap. Developmentally, this kind of empowerment is good for tiny humans who are trying to exert power over their environment. In other words, it enhances their sense of self and self-mastery over their environment.

One last benefit I’ll mention here…lifting a flap helps a child toward eventually learning to write. Yes, that’s what I said! It helps them learn to write. How? Think about how a toddler or young child use their fingers when grasping a flap. Here’s a photo I “borrowed” from the internet…

Physically exercising this hand position (using hand and finger muscles to strengthen the “pincer movement”) and developing the eye-hand coordination to lift the flap will help a child work towards someday being able to do this…

To further the point, think about the eye-hand coordination you might observe when a baby learns to grasp finger foods. When my son was around 6 months old (when he could sit up on his own and put his hand to his mouth), I would put some Cheerios in front of him. At first, he awkwardly grasped at them, grabbing what he could by the handful (using his palm to grasp). But as he got older, his fine motor skills developed and eventually he could pick them up individually by using his pincer movement. Practicing the pincer movement through eating, playing and yes, lifting flaps in books, helped him eventually be able to hold a crayon or pencil to write. Here’s another photo I “borrowed” from the internet to illustrate. Now, imagine those chubby little fingers someday holding a crayon, pencil, or pen.

I haven’t gotten into the emotional bonding between the adult and child reading a novelty book, but then again, that can happen with every book.

With all the benefits of lift-a-flap and other novelty books, it makes sense that they’re a great choice for the youngest of readers. And I’ll just say that the sturdy, gorgeously colored flaps in Love Can Come in Many Ways will certainly enhance your little one’s development.

The book comes out on October 20, 2020 but it’s available to preorder now! Just click HERE.