Interactivity existed in picturebooks before digitization came along:
- scratch-and-sniff hot spots
- musical chips
- flashing light-emitting diodes
- fold-out flaps
And here is a list of very inventive books published 2013, each making use of an unusual arrangement of board/paper and so on.
In his book Reading Contemporary Picturebooks, David Lewis offers a brief list of some landmark examples of interactive printed picturebooks:
- The Spot books by Eric Hill
- Jan Pienkowski‘s elaborately engineered works of art (e.g. Haunted House, Robot)
- Eric Carle‘s books, with their cut and shaped pages
- Much work of the Ahlbergs (Peepo, The Jolly Postman, Yum Yum and Playmates)
- Making Faces by Nick Butterworth, which includes a mirror in which the reader makes faces
- Tom’s Pirate Ship by Philippe Dupasquier, a ‘spot-the-difference’ book
- Say Cheese by David Pelham, a pop-up book shaped in three dimensions like a wedge from a circular block of cheese
- Where, Oh Where, is Kipper’s Bear? by Mick Inkpen, containing a tiny torch that lights up at the end of the book.
Pop-ups and movables tend to produce a degree of unease amongst children’s book critics and scholars for they often do not seem to offer much in the way of a reading experience at all. For this reason they are sometimes considered to be more like toys than books, objects to play with rather than to read. There is some justice in this view, but it is far too simplistic for it tidies up too neatly something that, if we are honest, rather resists pigeonholing. We might better understand the world of the movable if we view it as a hybrid, a merging of two, otherwise incompatible artifacts: the toy and the picturebook.
I would argue instead that interactiions in picturebooks (whether printed or digital) come in various forms, and can be manipulated by careful developers to either pull readers out of the story or to draw them in deeper. Interactions are therefore not necessarily metafictive.