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Children's Shape Books and Books with Holes

Updated on November 18, 2014

What's on the other side of the hole in the page?

Spend time with your family reading a whole genre of children's picture "Books With Holes". The holes or windows are there to let you peek through the pages to see part of the next image in the story. But you never know what to expect when you turn the page.

"Shape Books" have die-cut pages with the edges trimmed off to make the shape of a house, for example.

All these books are ideal for young children to learn basic language skills while parents or sitters read the book aloud. See a personal review of my favorite die-cut books, beginning with the classic Moomin Books by Tove Jannson.

What Happens Next?

Hur gick det sen?

Literally translated as What Happens Next? the original Swedish title of of the classic children's story The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My gives a hint about the magic of books with holes. The cover and each die-cut page inside reveals just part of the image on the following page through a hole -- a teaser for what happens next in the story.

Moomin Books - New and vintage books in the series

Moomin, Mymble and Little My made a big impression on me because of the bright colors and the completely unique characters -- and the holes. Moomin (and her parents Moominpappa and Moominmamma) looks very much like a hippopotamus. Kids will enjoy the detailed illustrations and turn the pages with a feeling of wonder and discovery to find out what's on the other side of the hole in the page.

Look through the hole in the pipe to see fish on the next page
Look through the hole in the pipe to see fish on the next page | Source

Beautiful illustrations from the book are full of bright colors and awe-inspiring landscapes. Appropriate for kids in kindergarten to 5 years and older. Quality bookbinding, designed in the tradition of children's "Pop-up Books" and "Movable Books".

Tove Jansson picture books

The Dangerous Journey and Who Will Comfort Toffle? are the other two picture books for kids by Tove Jansson. There are dozens of other Moomin Books in the series that have longer stories, and vocabulary matched to the reading skills of older kids. See the Moomin comic book series, below.

Shape Books - Die-cut edges of each page

Vintage Shape Book
Vintage Shape Book | Source

The tops of each page in the book are cut, or shaped, to see part of the next page beyond. The cover of this vintage Hansel and Gretel book (that I got as a hand-me-down from my brothers) is cut on the top of the house along the edge of the roof.

"Board Books" for children are made of sturdy paperboard or plastic so the book stays in good condition on road trips, or even in the bathtub.

Moomin collectables

My parents gave the books to me long ago, and I haven't thought about them in years. It was no surprise to learn recently that the Moomin Books have a huge international following, and a theme park in Finland called Moomin World (Muumimaailma). So naturally there are toy figures of all the characters in the series. Another toy that I want to collect now!

Moominland memorabilia

Arabia is the name of the company officially licensed to create the most delightful toys, kitchen wares and collectables from Moomin Valley.

Laura Seeger specializes in clever children's books that make good use of the die cut holes or windows to carry the "riddle" of the story. "Look inside" the books at Amazon for a glimpse of the rich colors and creative design.

Get an introduction to colors for children from Lemons Are Not Red. Award-winning book by the author with more colors and fruit pairings. Turn the page to see the lemon turn from red to yellow through the window.

First the Egg shows a progression of animals in the die-cut pages that grow from caterpillars to butterflies, or eggs to chickens (and back again).

First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards))
First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards))

It starts with a chicken and ends with a chicken, or is it the egg?


Classic Books With Holes

Modern series of "Books With Holes" made with high quality die-cut pages and heavy paper to withstand abuse for generations.

Moomin comic strip series

Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip - Book One
Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip - Book One

Jannson also illustrated a cartoon series that was carried in the United Kingdom and Europe. The complete series has been reprinted recently and introduced to the United States for the first time.


Activities for kids with the Moomins

Character actors at Moomin World, Finland
Character actors at Moomin World, Finland | Source

The Rocket Book by Peter Newell is another classic picture book for children. The janitor's son has set off a rocket in the basement of an apartment building. Visit each apartment to see what happened when the rocket came through.

The Hole Book (Peter Newell Children's Books)
The Hole Book (Peter Newell Children's Books)

Look through the hole to see beyond to the next page.


Did you read these Moomin books or classic Books with Holes? I hope you and your kids will get as much delight as these books have given me and millions of children, in dozens of languages around the world.

Guestbook and comments

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    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      5 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @tfsherman lm: What is it about holes? Kids like to dig 'em, jump in there, get buried up to their neck. Thanks for visiting and your comments.

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 

      5 years ago

      Kids love holes and they're much longer lasting than lift the flaps. There are some great ones out there.. Interesting aspect of the subject for a lens!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Kids love Books with Holes and so do I.

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      5 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @anonymous: Thank you. I'm so very grateful to have parents with good taste and style. When I found this book, years later, hundreds of fond memories came flooding back of my childhood books.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hole books add extra reading fun and fingers have to poke through them too! I love your personal story of Mooman books and how sweet they are known world wide and even have their own theme park.....your parents chose great books for you!

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      6 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @Camden1: There's still plenty of time because Books with Holes are great at any age.

    • Camden1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't think we ever read any of these books - now I feel like my kids were deprived. They would have loved reading hole books!

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      6 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @anonymous: You son will be able to rediscover the hole book later, and relive a fond memory.

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      6 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @Gypzeerose: They're very popular in Europe and in Japan, where goblins and trolls are commonplace.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My son had a hole book at Christmas when he was growing up, and he loved it. I did too!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      Really unique - hadn't come across these. Thanks for turning me onto the Books with Holes.

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      6 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @moonlitta: They are fun for kids, and their parents too! Hope you found something you liked.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Still read them, this time to my daughter:)


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