Little Lessons in Noticing for Kids

November 11, 2017 | Jennifer

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Girl wearing a Where's Waldo t-shirt and holding a red flower
Photo Credit: Marina del Castell on a CC License

You’ve heard it before: that child who says, “I’m not much of a reader,” but has a firm appreciation of puzzle books like Where’s Waldo. Contrary to popular belief, these books offer more than escapism and leisure.

Seek & find or “spot the differences” titles can benefit a child’s ability to concentrate and notice detail. Some follow a scavenger hunt format to introduce new vocabulary, such as Nadine Robert's award-winning Toshi's Little Treasures. Others use words sparsely and rely on devices like macro photography to keep kids guessing. Either way, this genre helps kids sustain thought or decipher words and symbols.

Kumon notes that "nurturing a good balance of both concentration and curiosity in young children is fundamental to honing their social and academic abilities for the years ahead." Puzzles and memory games are on Kumon's list of beneficial tools.

Not sure what to search on the Toronto Public Library catalogue to pull up these types of books? Plug in “picture puzzles.”

Two Boba Fett LEGO figurines, one blurred and one in the background
Photo Credit: Remy Sharp on a CC License

I loved I Spy picture riddles as a kid, both figuring out the rhyming hints and spotting the objects. I Spy books are also available in French as C’est Moi, L’espion. Make it a family activity to write your own clues and create a scavenger hunt.

In addition to great series such as Spot 7, or Can You See What I See?, check out some of these new books at the library for kids of various ages:

  Look and Find Dinosaurs

Look and Find Dinosaurs by Kirsteen Robson (ages 4 & up)

What in the World? A Closer Look

What in the World? A Closer Look by Julie Vosburgh Agnone (ages 8-12)

Mr.Tweed and the Band in Need

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need by Jim Stoten (ages 3-7)

One Hundred Things to Spot

One Hundred Things to Spot by Naomi Wilkinson (ages 2-5)

  Who What Where?

Who What Where? by Olivier Tallec (ages 3-6)

Spot the Mummy in the Museum

Spot the Mummy in the Museum by Sarah Khan (Ages 4-7)