Toca Boca Readalikes

Description:  For the preschool set, [Toca Boca apps] combine fun exploration with a gender-neutral approach and a kid-safe sensibility. Though they don’t promise to teach the ABCs or 123s, they do offer opportunities for storytelling and unique experiences that range from playing hairstylist to creating biomes for different animals.

They also have a series of virtual dollhouses that let kids play in all kinds of environments, including a hospital, an office, and a school. No matter what your kids’ interests are, there’s likely a Toca Boca app that will capture their imagination and let them have a fun and safe digital experience.

Readalikes for ages 3+

Appeals: Open-world environment, relaxed pace, detail-oriented

My Pictures After the Storm by Éric Veillé, trans. by Daniel Hahn

Amazon’s Description:  With its funky format, clever rhymes and funny images, My Pictures after the storm is a witty and inventive take on ‘before’ and ‘after.’

Crossover Appeal: The colorful and silly illustrations in this picture book are visually similar to Toca Boca’s quirky brand, and the cause-effect nature of the narrative mimics Toca Boca’s process-oriented action (cutting and curling hair in Toca Salon, chopping veggies and boiling pasta in Toca Kitchen, etc.).  Some of the ‘before/after’ pairings require a bit more advanced thought processing that would be best facilitated one-on-one with a caregiver (especially for younger readers).

Richard Scarry’s “Busytown” series

Amazon’s Description: Join Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat, and other beloved characters for a day . . . Visit the school, the farm, the post office, and many more fun and exciting places in this classic book that teaches little ones all about what goes on in their very own communities.

Crossover Appeal:  These classics, which are lean on plot with emphasis on the details, lend themselves to the kind of exploration of an open-world environment that Toca Boca app fans will relish.  Each in the series will have readers lingering over each page to immerse oneself in every mini vignette (Scarry’s 1963 ‘Best Word Book Ever’ includes over 1,400 separate illustrated objects).  There is also a fair amount of narrative focused around the day-to-day work of the grownups in town which is also the focus of many of Toca Boca‘s most popular games.

Amazon’s Description: Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!

Crossover Appeal:  Another book series with a cause-effect aspect to the narrative, and the kinds of colorful, simple shapes that comprise the Toca Boca games . . . this time with the added layer of interactivity that comes of requiring readers to physically manipulate the pages in order to move the story along.

Chronicle Books (Twirl imprint) “Play-Learn-Do” series

Amazon’s Description:  Studies show that children learn best when all their senses are engaged. The Play Learn Do™ books fit the bill perfectly, plus they are fun! This highly interactive book encourages hands-on learning while helping to develop a sense of responsibility, showing children how to care for a baby by interacting with the 15 movable parts to change Baby’s diaper, give Baby a bottle, and even help get Baby ready for bed. What a perfect gift for future (or already!) big brothers and sisters!

Crossover Appeal:  Though many libraries likely don’t circulate the books in this series due to their multiple movable parts, this can be a good recommendation for purchase to families with Toca Boca-loving children.  All the books in the series have real-world application (cooking, caring for baby, tool and computer use, etc.) as the everyday themes of the Toca Boca games do.  The fine motor skills practice inherent in the operation of the books’ parts is an added bonus.

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