“I spy, with my little eye…” lots of books for looking, finding, and talking about! Some children’s books tell a story, others don’t have a story at all but encourage play. These are “I spy” books that ask the reader to find hidden objects in the pictures.
Even though there is no story, these visual puzzles give your child the opportunity to notice subtle similarities and differences between objects and to develop vocabulary by describing what he or she finds in the pictures.
The book may have clues about what to find and where to look, or you can just scan the pictures and find things on your own. Point out the details that make each object unique. This is a good skill to have later when your child is trying to see how the letter “b” is different than the letter “d.”
As you look at the pictures talk about what you discover. This will develop positional and directional vocabulary, words and phrases such as “above,” “behind,” “beside,” and “at the top.” Depending on the book, your child can also practice numbers, colors, and words that compare one to another like “bigger/smaller” “shorter/taller,” and “darker/lighter.”
Many “I spy” books come in a series by the author or publisher, so you can find for instance one book with items on a farm and books in the same format with images of things in a store or at school. Here are a few to try out at home:
Tana Hoban has a multitude of books for very young children that feature her photographs of everyday life. Most of her books have very few words and some have no words at all. Her book “Is it Red? Is it Yellow? Is it Blue?” has just colored dots on each page to show what colors to find. Also fun for playing “I spy” are her books “Exactly the Opposite,” “Shapes, Shapes, Shapes,” and “Colors Everywhere.”
“1001 Monster Things to Spot” is one in a series published by Usborne Books, written by Gillian Doherty, and illustrated by Teri Gower. The detailed drawings each have a list of things to find with the amount of each on the page. In the “Monster Things” book you are asked on one page to find “7 lumber busters, 9 scuffle bumps, and 5 pocket trolls.” There are also books about finding 1001 things on a farm, in fairyland, on vacation, and many more.
Scholastic has a series of books with photographs by Walter Wick and riddles by Jean Marzollo so you can play “I Spy Animals,” and at school, in the fun house, at Christmas, and more.
“Follow the Line to School” by Laura Ljungkvist is a different kind of “I spy” book that asks the reader to follow a line through the book that winds its way in and out of rooms. Collage illustrations in one book depict rooms in a school, and in another book, rooms in a house. Each page has questions about “How many can you find? Do you see…?”