Some books are about eggs and ham. Some are about mice and cookies. And some are about the human condition: you, sitting on a couch reading a book as a toddler spills milk on the work clothes you were hoping to just re-wear tomorrow. The rapidly-growing genre of meta children's books is all the way awake and aware of its own existence in the literary canon. These books have theory of self! And they are super duper fun to read for kids who love a smart joke.
These books still have some fun characters, but these characters know you're reading a book about them. And the reader themselves get to be a character. Little geniuses will realize that the book they are holding is part of the story. It's empowering for young readers. Like saying "Hey! You! You're reading this book! You're a part of it now!" It's so much more active than, say, your kid watching a video of someone else opening toys and playing with them. Bonus point for meta books: they're pretty darn entertaining to the adults that might be reading them, too.
Check out these 11 kids' books that take the fourth wall and smash it to pieces.
'Chester' by Mélanie Watt
'We Are In A Book (An Elephant & Piggie Book)' by Mo Willems
'Chapter Two Is Missing' by Josh Lieb, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
OK. Nobody panic, but Chapter Two is missing and you have to help the characters find it. It's a mystery. And solving it is crucial. But it turns out that the missing chapter is just one facet of what makes this book so super meta and so super funny. This book came out on October 29 and makes a perfect gift for the holidays.
'Circle' by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
If there's anyone who can do clever, it's Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This book is the third and final installment of books about three shapes, Square, Triangle, and Circle. This book is more subtly meta in the way it's pared down, sparse, and super self-aware.
'Here And Now' by Julia Denos, illustrated by E.B. Goodale
'There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Book' by Jomike Tejido
The old woman can't find her kids anywhere! She searches high and low in all the books on the bottom shelf. And within the pages of these books, she finds a whole cast of fairytale characters. Books are everywhere in these illustrations.
'Bearnard's Book' by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Misa Saburi
'Dragons Eat Noodles On Tuesday' by Jon Stahl, illustrated by Tadgh Bentley
'Be Quiet!' by Ryan T. Higgins
'The Red Book' by Barbara Lehman
The book is already a classic. It's wordless and the kids who find the red book in the book see pictures of other kids holding the same book and they are able to travel to the places in the book. Did you follow that? You really just need to read it to get it. It's a fun trip. And this is just the first of many mind-bending wordless picture books by Lehman.
'My Book With No Pictures' by B.J. Novak
If cult classic The Book With No Pictures wasn't enough of an uprising by the children who made us read A HIPPO NAMED BOO BOO BUTT out loud, *My* Book With No Pictures gives your kid even more power, with fill-in-the-blanks and a page of hilaz stickers to force you to say even sillier things than in the original.
Out November 18!