Inside: Simple and educational picture book scavenger hunts that are perfect for Picture Book Month, Library Lovers Month, Children’s Book Day, or any other day of the year.
We’re celebrating Picture Book Month (November) with a couple of picture book scavenger hunts. I find that kids of all ages love listening to and looking at picture books.
When it comes to reading with kids, placing emphasis on playfulness and fun (by adding scavenger hunts) makes the experience more enjoyable in the short run and could lead to a profound love of books in the long.
I would know. I have four kids who are crazy about reading. And I’m pretty sure that my high schooler and middle schooler have already read more books than most people read in their lifetime.
These print-and-go scavenger hunts are perfect for:
- engaging reluctant readers,
- practicing concentration, observation, and thinking skills,
- engaging intellect through clues and prompts,
- improving mental speed,
- tapping into the natural human tendency to want to win, and
- simply having fun with books!
Disclaimer: For your convenience, I included some Amazon links in this post. If you end up buying a book or two throw my links, I will get a small commission at no charge to you. Thank you for your support!
Picture Book Scavenger Hunt #1
In this printable, kids look for the items listed on the page and place a checkmark next to the items they find.
The goal is to get kids actively looking through the books all around them and to think about those books with more curiosity.
If you have a solid collection of children’s books, you are in a good place to finish the hunt without leaving home. We (my kids and I) deliberately chose characters and objects that frequently make appearances in children’s literature.
If you don’t have many books, though, don’t despair; just head to the library and let loose in the picture books section! Pull a random book off the shelf, turn it so your child can see the cover, and ask,
Do you think we might find a cat/truck/duck in this book?
What do you think this book is about?
What can you tell me about this book from looking at its cover?
Browse the pages together, or if you prefer your kids to do most of the work independently, print the second version of the scavenger hunt, which includes watercolor images of the items so they wouldn’t have to ask you to read the prompts.
Picture Book Scavenger Hunt #2
I love this scavenger hunt because it’s such a terrific learning tool and also gets kids excited about reading. What kid doesn’t want to read books by an author with their first name (maybe even the same last name)? Or the word “butt” in the title? (Do you think this word never shows up? Then you need to check out I Need a New Butt by Dawn McMillan).
You can spark a book exploration by asking a simple question.
For example, what’s your favorite color? And then you look for a book with a cover of that color. Remember not to do all the work. The idea is to engage kids, so ask lots of questions and motivate them to do most of the hunting:
Should we pull this book out?
What would you call this color?
Does this look like the color we are looking for?
What do you think of this one?
Show them that this is all about their exploration, their preferences, and their fun!
I really enjoyed pulling out a list of picture books published the year I was born.
I was truly surprised to find out that many of the books published over four decades ago are classics that are still popular today – I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Suess, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judy Barrett (now also a popular movie!), and The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses (Caldecott Medal winner and, as it happens, a book that has been on our list of favorites for years!)
You can also read a picture book with a number in the title, a book by an author from your town, a book with the word “bad” in the title (We liked Little Bird’s Bad Word), etc. The opportunities are infinite, and it’s such an exciting way to spend some quality time with your kids!
Picture Book Scavenger Hunt #3
Finally, here is a scavenger hunt with an exciting alphabet twist. I think I had as much fun as my kids (and possibly more) digging through shelves of books at the library and local bookstore. Once my kids got the idea, though, they all wanted to be one to find a book that fits our search.
While on our A to Z scavenger hunt, we discovered many new books that surprised us.
The best part is that you can do this alphabet hunt over and over again, filling it with different books each time. For example, for letter A, you can pick Applesauce Day by Lisa Amstutz or Apple Pies and Hay Rides by Theresa Del Vecchio if you are doing this challenge in the fall, and go for Accident by Andrea Tsurumi or Alphabreath by Christopher Willard, if you are teaching your kids about mindset and mindfulness.
If you are more of a control freak (and I totally feel you because I’m a recovering control freak myself), you can start an initial search on the computer to identify some (or all) of the picture books for your list.
However, I think it’s more beneficial to involve the kids and let them do most of the digging (even though it is more chaotic). Cut out a block of 2-3 hours to visit the library. Bring the printout of our scavenger hunt, a pencil, and show kids how to:
– pull out one book at a time,
– locate the title,
– find the first word,
– identify the first letter of the first word, and finally
– make a decision if it’s a match for the letter you are looking for.
It might seem like a little project, but for the kids who are still forming their concept of reading and honing their observational skills, it’s actually a huge challenge and a lot of hard work. Take them for a scoop of ice cream after the library.
We have a cute little ice cream store between the library and home, and my kids are convinced that the books + ice cream combo makes for a legendary day out.