May 15, 2024

Favorite Accessory-Dependent Books


Accessory-dependent books are those that rely heavily on an extra tool or element for a more comprehensive reading experience. Such tools can include things like 3D glasses, sunlight, a magnifying glass, and even your surrounding environment. Sometimes the books on this list come with the tool you need, and sometimes you have to rely on your surroundings or preexisting knowledge to make the book work. Let's check out some of my favorites!

click on a book cover to see more

...and don't forget to check out my other favorites lists:


My First Haircut

By Yang Dong

Accessory needed: Fingers. Our main character is getting their first haircut! Stick your fingers through the die-cut holes of this immensely creative and interactive board book to wash, cut, brush, blow dry, and style the character's hair. With such a silly and engaging way to experience a first haircut, maybe getting a real first haircut won't be so scary!


By Carnovsky and Katie Davies

Accessory needed: Red, blue, and green vinyls. Illumanatomy has alternating spreads with text information about anatomy and images printed in overlapping hues of cyan, magenta, and yellow. Each color represents a different part of the human body, so when readers use the special finder that comes with book they can see more details: hold the red lens over the interiors to see the skeleton, green for the muscles, and blue to see the organs. Instructions are included on the finder, which is located on the inside cover.

By Isol, and translated by Elisa Amado

Accessories needed: A bright light. Pick a dream recipe that looks interesting, climb into bed, and turn off the light to let the glow-in-the-dark image that pops up lead you into a dream. The book is spiral-bound at the top, and it has a little stand built in so that readers can fall asleep looking at the clever images glowing on the page. The back cover has instructions on how to use the book to create a new dream every night.

By Renata Bueno

Accessory needed: A specially-striped piece of vinyl. This board book plays with lenticular printing, a sort of optical illusion where the brain automatically fills in visual gaps. What Do You See? cleverly plays with this concept by providing a piece of striped vinyl and combining two images on a single page with the board book's titular question. Readers line the stripes up with the image to see one thing before shifting the vinyl horizontally to see the other. Instructions are printed on the back of the book.

By Surya Sajnani

Accessory needed: Water. I swear, I will always see color changing books as magical! This simple black-and-white bath book becomes colorful as soon as it hits water. Even the cover changes color! It takes fewer than five seconds to become colorful and under an hour to fully dry (so you can play again). So much fun!

Find Colors

By Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford

Accessory needed: Your surroundings! Each spread features a die-cut silhouette of an everyday object––a pair of glasses, a leaf, some worms––and a color name, prompting readers to look through the die-cut to find the matching color around them. Make the die-cut worms pink by holding them up to something pink! Very interactive and reminds readers that art is all around us.

By Matthias Picard

Accessory needed: 3D glasses with blue and red lenses. Follow Jim Curious on a wordless 3D adventure! Grab an adventuring buddy and use one of the two pairs of provided glasses––with a blue lens on one side and a red on the other––to travel with Jim through his bedroom mirror and on the jungle adventure of a lifetime!

The Onion's Great Escape

By Sara Fanelli

Accessory needed: A pop-out onion. Okay, this book is a little more on the accessory-producing side of the spectrum than it is on accessory-dependent side, but very technically you need to peel her from the book to complete the book experience. As readers go through the book and answer its questions, they slowly peel the onion out of the book by breaking the perforated pages. Eventually Onion is free, and she becomes a little carousel book. The instructions on how to use the book and extract the onion are on a removable belly band on the back cover of the book.

By David Long and Andy Rowland

Accessory needed: A magnifying glass. Travel the ancient world with a book that is so jam-packed with details that you need a magnifying glass to fully experience it. Luckily, the book comes with a pop-out magnifying glass so readers can take a closer look at the funny, factual details on each spread at their leisure. The glass has a nice little pocket at the front of the book for storage.

Marvelous Machines

By Jane Wilsher and Andrés Lozano

Accessory needed: A red lens. While you read about the inner workings of your favorite inventions, peek inside them, too. Marvelous Machines's spreads are riddled with various boxes that use a visual technique called the Red Reveal: A virtually invisible blue ink is printed behind a series of overlapping red lines or dots, and the blue image or text can only be seen if readers use a red lens or gel. Luckily, Marvelous Machines includes a red magnifying glass for easy perusing of the many hidden parts of your favorite machines.

Midnight Monsters: A Pop-Up Shadow Search

By Helen Friel

Accessories needed: A flashlight and a wall or other flat vertical surface. When you're in the light, learn about the different monsters that lurk in the shadows. When you're in the dark, prop the book up and use a flashlight to cast monster shadows on the walls using its pop-up pages. Each spread focuses on a different set of mythological beasts and monsters, with several shadows to cast per spread. You can also see some interiors from Midnight Monster's sister book Midnight Creatures here.

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