Beyond books

Little kids don’t need anything fancy to get interested in reading. They require only a willing parent and a book or two.

But sometimes literary bells and whistles — such as those included with the books here — can be just the thing to encourage kids to use their imaginations, engage in creative play and maybe even go the heck to sleep!  

Train: A Journey Through the Pages Book 

Kids can drive a little plastic train through every page of this heavy-duty board book, thanks to a specially designed track that wanders across every page — from the bay, to the desert, to the prairie, up the green mountainside, through hill towns and a city and, finally, a train yard. 

Ages 3 and up / $22.95 /

Nature Trail with Bip

Take a walk in the woods with Bip, the little stuffed cat included with this miniature board-book gift set from DK that put an emphasis on early learning concepts focused on getting kids ready for school.

Age 2–5 / $13.99 /

Dragons Love Tacos 

This New York Times bestselling book is now available as a gift set with an adorkable miniature stuffed dragon, holding a taco the size of its head and sporting a cute little grin.

We love the story of the friendly dragons, including a list of which toppings they like (anything mild, including veggies) and which toppings they hate (anything spicy). But what happens when the dragons accidentally ingest jalapenos hidden in mild salsa? Watch out! 

Ages 3-7 / $17.99 /

WHOO Is Ready for Bed?

Teryn Tilque, a Green Bay mother of two (along with her mother) created this interactive book set — and simple bedtime methodology — after she had her second child.

Tilque’s then-3-year-old daughter, Addison, wouldn’t go to bed (or stay in bed) without major fussing.

A cute plush owl accompanies the book, which includes dry-erase crayon kids can use to check off bedtime tasks listed in the book. After “three good nights without a peep” (which kids also mark in the book), children receive a reward (as determined by the parents) from the wide-eyed owl.

Now, why didn’t someone think of this before? 

Ages 2–7 / $26.99 /