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Amazing Pop-up Books for Kids and Grown Ups

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A selection of the best pop up books in the market today

Looking for a list of the best pop-up books? Look no further as I've compiled a great selection of pop up picture books, from the simple to the really elaborate ones, right on this page.

Through the years, the craftsmanship of pop up books has grown more creative and complex. This is why collectors (like me!) are no longer buying the books just for children! Pop-ups which are works of art in themselves are now being bought by adults for themselves as collectibles.

Read on to learn the history and evolution of movable books and see some of the most amazing pop up books in the market today.

Photo of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Pop-up courtesy of Amazon.

This Squidoo lens was awarded a Purple Star on Nov. 19, 2010, what an honor! Learn more about the Purple Star Program by clicking on the link.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, master paper engineer Robert Sabuda has created a pop-up version of Dorothy's adventures in Oz that fans will find irresistible. He modelled his depictions of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the rest of the gang after W. W. Denslow's original art and added a third dimension that would have rocked Denslow's -- and Baum's -- world.

Bestselling pop-up artist and engineer Matthew Reinhart, a self-confessed Star Wars fan, has designed a 30th Anniversary Commemorative Edition that comes packed with a variety of exciting features -- intricate pop-ups and fold-outs that explode right out of the page at you, light sabers that really light up, and well-thought-out interactive look at the popular movie franchise.

If you are planning to build a Sabuda/Reinhart collection (and I suggest you do!), I recommend that you start with the following hard-cover pop-up adaptations of classic stories, along with the two books I mentioned above of course. All of their works are so meticulously crafted and very cleverly engineered that any book collection would be honored to have them in their midst.

David A. Carter is an author, illustrator and one of the best-known contemporary paper engineers. He is the mastermind behind the powerful Bug phenomenon that began in 1988 with the publication of How Many Bugs in a Box? Since then he has created a series of Bugs books with combined sales of nearly six million copies. His work, One Red Dot, was a New York Times best-seller and was highly praised by Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly magazines. He is also the author of the popular Blue 2.

Read more about David Carter.

David A. Carter latest series of books takes pop-ups into a new realm, experts say: the realm of fine art.

The books are "One Red Dot," "Blue 2," "600 Black Spots," "Yellow Square" and "White Noise." "I saw these beautiful colors and had this shift," Carter said. The inspiration of color, combined with the miscellany of forms he'd created over seven years, became the five-volume "Red Dot" series. These books are different because the forms do not help to tell a story. "As I build these structures, it's only about building the pop-up, only about building sculpture," he said. "I wouldn't mind if the books were published with no text at all."

Read more about this new series in this interview.

Jan Pienkowski, an award-winning illustrator of children's books, takes the art of the pop-up book to a new level of ingenuity and intricacy with Botticelli's Bed & Breakfast, a witty visual treasure hunt and tour of a fictitious bed & breakfast supposedly run by Botticelli. The book is meant to be opened up completely and tied end to end to reveal a 360 degree view of all the rooms. Fifty-six great artworks by the masters are scattered through the ten old -- sometimes haunted -- rooms of his creation and it's up to the reader to find them all, using the accompanying mini-book as guide.

Similar in fashion to the book I showed you above (Botticelli's Bed & Breakfast), Victorian Doll House comes to life once this book is unfolded. When you tie back the ribbons, the house stands on its own, revealing great decorative details, authentic-looking pop-up period furniture, and press-out play dolls and accessories. Eight elegant rooms are decorated Victorian style with hanging chandeliers, a piano, a tea set, a rocking horse and many other charming surprises. Doors, closets and drawers can actually open and close and store (tiny) things in them.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong announced the success of the greatest journey in human history. Now this stunning pop-up book full of original NASA photographs brings to life the groundbreaking mission that conquered the Moon and inspired the world.

Acclaimed author Richard Platt focuses on humankind's dreams of traveling to the moon, the technology needed to reach the moon and sustain the astronauts in space, and the moon landing itself. Re-creating the excitement of the expedition are extraordinary pop-ups depicting a rocket, the lunar module, a spaceship, and a spectacular spherical moon, while booklets and flaps offer readers a wealth of intriguing facts.

Slighty more grown-up pop-ups

The following books I'm recommending are slightly more adult in nature but "adult" in the sense that grown-ups might find more enjoyment in them. (No worries though, this is a G-rated page so everything is still kid-safe!)

A work of art in itself, The Architecture Pack is a highly sophisticated version of the beloved pop-up book that offers a unique, cross-cultural, three-dimensional tour of architecture through the centuries. By flipping the elaborately engineered pages, we learn what architects do, how they do it, and all about the great buildings of the world from antiquity to the present. It's packed with information and hands-on activities, models, fold-outs, pop-ups, and 3-D glasses; readers can even fold out a miniature version of the Colosseum in Rome or a French Gothic cathedral. There are discussions on the development of the dome, new materials and shapes, sculptural buildings such as those of Gaudi and Le Corbusier, and skyscrapers.

Image courtesy of I Dream for Architecture

Ron Van Der Meer is a pioneer of the modern pop-up book and has published more than 150 books, including over 100 pop-up titles and was actually the first designer to introduce three-dimensional books to the adult market. His books on specialist subjects such as architecture, music and psychology have been international best-sellers and are collected by fans throughout the world. As well as bringing the thrills of pop-ups to adults, his ingenious mechanics show graphic designers the full potential of paper engineering. A flat page of a seemingly normal book can be lifted and turned to reveal the three dimensions of a sailing ship, an orchestra, a volcano or the Sydney Opera House.

Read more about paper engineer Ron Van Der Meer.

Prepare to be amazed. From the lenticular cover that changes with the angle of your hands all the way to the Z, ABC3D is as much a work of art as it is a pop-up book. Each of the 26 three-dimensional letters move and change before your eyes. C turns into D with a snap. M stands at attention. X becomes Y with a flick of the wrist. And then there's U...Boldly conceived and brilliantly executed with a striking black, red, and white palette, this is a book that readers and art lovers of all ages will treasure for years to come.

Marion Bataille is a French graphic artist and illustrator and ABC3D is her first published book.

More than 600,000 people visit Graceland every year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. With Graceland: An Interactive Pop-Up Tour, you'll go behind the velvet ropes for an all-access tour of the Elvis Presley Estate. The book starts with a foreword by widow Priscilla then moves room by room through the Memphis mansion.

Chuck Murphy is one of the most celebrated paper engineers in the country, with more than 60 books to his credit.

Image courtesy of The Elvis Shop

Known worldwide as the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) had an incredible directing career that spanned five decades and more than fifty films. He earned numerous awards, inspired countless publications and festivals, and spawned a new era in suspense cinema.

Elements Of Pop Up: A Pop Up Book For Aspiring Paper Engineers - Learn paper engineering basics and make your own pop-up book!

I learned how to make pop-out spirals and other complicated shapes and so much more with this book. (Check out our pop-up wedding invitation below!). Even if you've never transformed a piece of paper into something else in your life, don't be scared. With constant practice, this book will turn you into a paper-folding genius in no time.

The first authentic pop-up book was created in 1929 by S. Louis Giraud, a British publisher, though the first mechanical book dates back to the 13th century when a Catalan poet used a revolving disc to illustrate his theories. The pop-up's heyday was in the 1960s, when every child probably had a couple on his shelf.

The epithet "pop-up" is often applied to any three-dimensional or movable book, although properly the umbrella term movable book covers pop-ups, transformations, tunnel books, volvelles, flaps, pull-tabs, pop-outs, pull-downs, and more, each performing in a different manner. Also included, because they employ the same techniques, are three-dimensional greeting cards.

Design and creation of such books is known as paper engineering, a term not to be confused with the term for the science of paper making. It is akin to origami in so far as the two arts both employ folded paper. However, origami tends to be focused on creating objects, whereas pop-ups tend to remain essentially pictorial and mechanical in nature.

If you would like to delve deeper into the history of movable books in general, you can refer to the following links.

Sources: Wikipedia / NYU Livewire / UNT Libraries

Pop-up Method: Transformation

A Transformation starts with a scene made up of vertical slats. Pulling a tab on the side makes the slats slide under and over one another to "transform" into a totally different scene. Ernest Nister was an early English children's book author who produced "mechanical books" that often utilized the Transformation method.

See this technique in action below.

Tunnel Books (also called peepshow books) consist of a set of pages bound with two strips folded in a concertina manner on each side. The pages are then viewed through a die-cut hole on the cover and the effect is like you are looking through a tunnel. Openings in each page allow the viewer to see through the entire book and images on each page work together to create a three-dimensional scene inside. The Henri Rousseau Tunnel Book series are perfect examples of this method. This type of book dates from the mid-eighteenth century and was inspired by theatrical stage sets.

Below is a video that demonstrates the Tunnel Book technique.

Volvelles are paper constructions with rotating parts. An early example is the Astronomicum Caesareum by Petrus Apianus, as seen on the photo to the right which was made for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles in 1540. The book is full of nested circular pieces that revolve on grommets.

Below is a wheel chart that employs the most basic version of the volvelle method.

Photo credit

The most common type of pop-up is the Pop-Out. With this method, the pages open fully and a 3D model appears miraculously in the middle of the page. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-up Adaptation of Lewis Carroll's world-renowned story by Robert Sabuda demonstrates this fantastically. Make sure you watch the walk-through of this gorgeous book below.


Like most anyone, I grew up loving the tactile quality of pop-up books and as you will see throughout this page, I've kept that passion with me up to this day. I have an ever-growing collection of children's books, 50% of which are pop-up, and that is why I decided to share with you a number of the excellent ones I've come across through the years that I'm quite sure you will love to have in your library as well.

My love for anything and everything pop-up -- be it a book or a card -- began with a fantastic book called The Sesame Street Riddle Book, published in 1977. I was 5 when my parents bought it for me and I remember spending hours marvelling at the way the paper pieces moved whenever tabs are tugged, pushed or rotated.

I hope you enjoyed reading through this page as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I have always been fascinated with pop-up books and this fascination is reflected, not surprisingly, in some of my work and even our wedding invitation (see pic). It was fashioned using a technique that was detailed in David A. Carter's book Elements Of Pop Up: A Pop Up Book For Aspiring Paper Engineers.

How about you? Do you love pop-up books, even as a grown-up? I would love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think of the pop-up books on this page? - I would love to know what you think.

Margaret on August 30, 2018:

I love love love these pop-ups and would like to learn to make one

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on May 24, 2018:

I was VERY excited to read this because I have been an avid fan of pop-up books since I was a kid. But then I got here and there were no pictures of the actual books themselves. Shame.

seaniie layla kyla on June 25, 2015:

this is very cool

ParentingAdviceGuru on January 22, 2014:

It looks entertaining but a tedious process to make for those who are attempting to create for the first time. I'm sure children will love pop-up books, but my son rips them just like any paper. By the way, the Boticelli's Bed & Breakfast Pop Up Book is awesome!

http://readingmastered.com

ohcaroline on February 26, 2013:

These are really cool. I didn't know they had such elaborate designed ones.

SomethingAboutC on February 13, 2013:

I love them even as a grown up:) I'm going to have to get that Apollo 11 pop up book...

janicemiller lm on November 25, 2012:

I would have to say that reading a pop-up book to a child for the first time is amazing - I love to watch their surprise when the book pops out at them :)

Elastara on November 01, 2012:

Great lens on pop-up books! I didn't know there is such an interesting numbers of books that can be popped up. This is a great discovery for me. Thanks for sharing and creating this lens!

carmelomarahorwitz on September 26, 2012:

@carmelomarahorwitz: I am so happy I am going to the Movable Book Society to show off my pop-up book "Gypsy Circus" a Kickstarter.com project. Salt Lake City here I come.

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on September 25, 2012:

There are so many terrific pop-up books, I can't pick just one!

carmelomarahorwitz on September 15, 2012:

Great page!

carmelomarahorwitz on September 13, 2012:

I love pop-up books so much I am making one. Come and check out my project!

Gypsy Circus at Kickstarter . com! I have a fan page on facebook as well!

Annbulance2000 on August 27, 2012:

I loved pop up books as a child. I used to have a second hand copy of the bookano book which had the hound of the baskervilles and the arabian knights and the illustration of father christmas that you have here. Lovely lense well done.

countsquid on August 19, 2012:

i love popping, pulling and pushing pop up books

terrie-cichon on June 09, 2012:

Wonderful article on pop ups and movable books...Thank you!

anonymous on June 04, 2012:

Stopping by with an angel smile for your amazing pop up books!

anonymous on May 31, 2012:

Love how you've convinced me that pop-up books aren't just for children... Not that I needed much convincing!

JohnCumbow on May 18, 2012:

Fantastic lens! I have a couple of antique pop-up books, but had no idea what wonderful new pop-ups were available.

RedShoesGirl on May 18, 2012:

this lens makes me wanna be a kid again :)

anonymous on April 27, 2012:

these books are awesome..thnks for visiting my lens.

pley2wn on April 24, 2012:

These books are great. I buy amazing pop up "Happy Birthday" greeting cards for family and friends from a company called Miss Girlie Girl. This card has lights and "Happy Birthday to you" melody and candles that you blow out. Amazing!

DahliaValentine on April 03, 2012:

I love these...but then again, who DOESN'T love pop up books??? Brilliant work!

nolinel lm on April 03, 2012:

I love your lens...

Beverly Rodriguez from Albany New York on April 02, 2012:

I've already bought quite a few of these books. They make wonderful gift items. Great lens.

anonymous on March 15, 2012:

This is a FANTASTIC lens for all ages :) I just love pop up books and the excitement of fantasy world they bring to our imagination! Great lens...THANKS!!

btoteva on March 15, 2012:

Really amazing books!

kathysart on March 15, 2012:

What a great tribute to pop up books.. wow. I too have always loved them so it was fun to see how you made them shine even brighter. Angel blessed.

Carolyn Bennett from Longview, Washington on March 15, 2012:

Wonderful lens. I do love pop up books, and I especially love the way they can inspire children to explore all books.

Rose Jones on March 03, 2012:

Wow ! What a great lens: excellent product reviews, fascinating descriptions of the different techniques, and to top it off and best of all: personal stories. Of course, I love pop-ups anyway so you are preaching to the choir. Out to my friends at Facebook and Stumble-upon, bookmarked so I can come back to it and Angel Blessed of course!

Edutopia on February 12, 2012:

Pop up books are somehow even more fun for me as an adult than they were as a kid. Go figure.

anonymous on January 31, 2012:

wonderful site for great books, enjoyed seeing these this morning.

WriterJanis2 on January 16, 2012:

What a delightful assortment of books! Blessed!

baby-strollers on December 08, 2011:

This is a very long lens! You can't go wrong with a popup.

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on December 06, 2011:

Beautiful. I like pop up books despite the fact they can be easier destroyed than classic ones. Kids just love them!

seosmm on November 25, 2011:

Good info. Very nice lens!

Odille Rault from Gloucester on November 22, 2011:

Wow, I had no idea there was such a range of pop-up books for adults! Great lens. Blessed. :)

raffic on November 17, 2011:

wow amazing work

cdevries on August 09, 2011:

What a great Lens - gotta love pop-up books! I have a few on my Theater Books and other lens.

lemonsqueezy lm on August 05, 2011:

I still want the Victorian Doll House pop up book. want. want. want.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on July 04, 2011:

Amazing lens. Pop-up books can be such fun for a rainy day!

Tracy Smith from Maryville, TN on July 01, 2011:

Popup book are great for story telling and keeping people's attention.

WorldVisionary on June 07, 2011:

My daughter just made a pop up book as an art project in school and we all have a renewed interest in these books. Thanks for a great lens. Thumbs up and an Angel blessing for you!

Spook LM on May 28, 2011:

Had completely forgotten about these, so thanks for the reminder. Excellent and much work must have gone into this lens.

anonymous on May 08, 2011:

I absolutely adore these pop-ups books! They are so fun, Kids will be even more interested when they read through these lovely books. Thanks so much for posting how to make one. Good work!

patriciapeppy on March 31, 2011:

I love pop up books. guess that's just the big kid in me.

Everyday-Miracles on March 26, 2011:

I thought the tunnel book was really neat!

UKGhostwriter on March 26, 2011:

I love pop up books!

lemonsqueezy lm on March 15, 2011:

Who knew? Looka at this world of pop-up books. I predict that I will be purchasing Botelli's Bed & Breakfast in the very near future. Fabulous! Thanks for sharing. **blessed**

anonymous on March 07, 2011:

I popped in for another look and noticed that my favorite was here but not my rating, guess that happens when we favorite too soon before the 2 points pops up, problem corrected and glad I looked in here.

pixelposy on February 09, 2011:

I adore pop-up books, there is just something magical about them. Wonderful collection you've put together here.

BestWeddingSpee on January 18, 2011:

Wow! I loved pop up books when I was a kid but just lets say they were a lot more basic than the beautiful books you have featured here! Ooops, I am showing my age!

Philippians468 on January 12, 2011:

some of these cards are so amazing! thank you for this wonderful lens! cheers

Shannon Williams from Davisville, WV on January 12, 2011:

Congrats on LOTD! I really love this lens!!! I have always had a fondness for pop up books, but I didn't realize there were that many adults who did. I especially love the Alice, Dollhouse, and Castle books, but I admit that I'm a big kid. LOL Thank you so much for such a fun and interesting lens!

lilymom24 on January 12, 2011:

Absolutely lovely lens. My kids and I love pop up books...the Alice one is my favorite. =)

CarolMerc on January 12, 2011:

Lovely pop-up books!

Nice lens.

Carol at Power Wheels Ford F150

Indigo Janson from UK on January 12, 2011:

Just saw this is now at a well-deserved number 1 in Books and wanted to say a big congratulations!

anonymous on January 12, 2011:

What a great lens! I bought my 7 year old daughter the Star Wars pop up book for Christmas and she LOVES it! I will have to look into the other ones that you have featured here :)

JodiVee on January 12, 2011:

Ohhh, I love pop-up books! I wouldn't mind adding a few to my book collection, though I'm by no means a kid anymore ;)

(JobVirtue.com)

spider-girl on December 21, 2010:

I've always loved pop-up books, and your lens is just awesome!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on December 07, 2010:

Kids love pop-up books, but keep in mind that a toddler's motor control can't handle the tabs and fragile pop-up scenes very gently. Great for older kids and grown-ups.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on December 02, 2010:

What surprise me is that most are very affordable! I mean not much more than a regular boook. My favorite is the victorian house one. Looks pretty amazing.

ZazzleEnchante on November 29, 2010:

Wow, a great collection of fascinating pop-up books and accompanying videos. Blessed by a SquidAngel

Anahid LM on November 27, 2010:

Hi Great pop up books, I like them too but I don't have any. I gave you 5 stars. all the best. Anna

anonymous on November 23, 2010:

I love this! I see a very well deserved Purple Star here! You must have had such great fun creating this, excellent work!

GabrielaFargasch on November 23, 2010:

Wow!! Your page blew me away! I love these pop-up books! They are beautiful! Specially the Victorian house!

anonymous on November 22, 2010:

I enjoyed reading this lens, very inspiring.

Sojourn on November 22, 2010:

Simply amazing! I want them all! Seriously, though, you did an outstanding job assembling such a comprehensive list of the best pop up books for kids and adults. I can't imagine how much time this took you to put together but the detail is much appreciated. :)

Jack on November 18, 2010:

These books are beautiful. Great idea for a lens. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on November 18, 2010:

A fabulous theme for a lens. One that makes me think, "Why didn't I think of it first?"

My daughter makes pop up books sometimes for her lapbooks. And we've made a tunnel book too.

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on November 18, 2010:

really you have done a great job here. lovely presentation,

anonymous on November 18, 2010:

These are masterpieces! I would not want to send these, but to collect them.

Truly amazing engineering and craftsmanship.

Enjoyed immensely reviewing your lens. BG

puzzlerpaige on November 18, 2010:

My daughter has the Victorian Dollhouse and LOVES it. It's interesting in that it doesn't have lots of pages, it's just one huge sturdy fold out. There are paper people to move around and my daughter even decorates it for Christmas with paper decorations! Can't say how much I recommend that product. Lots of others here I like too.

Lisa Auch from Scotland on November 15, 2010:

wow....I thought I wanted the wizard of Oz, but then I Just cannot pick at all, these are amazing, and your wedding invitation is just gorgeous! Over the years we have had lots of joy over pop up books!

Blessed by an Angel

Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on November 14, 2010:

I am also a popup book lover. They are so cool! I only have a few of them. The ones I saw here are great. I loved the Boticelli's Bed and Breakfast book. Thanks for doing this lens. I had such a fun time reading it.

Tonie Cook from USA on November 07, 2010:

Of all the books in the world, the interactive pop-ups are among my favorites. Mechanical books are fun for the young, old, and all in between.

Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on October 05, 2010:

I love pop-up books and this is a great lens about them. Blessed by an Angel.

Indigo Janson from UK on September 21, 2010:

I can see why you are captivated by pop-up books -- these are incredible! I like the look of them all but Botticelli's Bed and Breakfast is especially appealing.

Fit_Over_40_Buzz on September 19, 2010:

Very cool lens. Informative and fun. Thanks for sharing. Thumbs Up given.

poutine on January 13, 2010:

My 2 sons loved pop-up books when they were little.

dancerene on December 15, 2009:

I love pop-up books too! Thanks for the fun lens. 5*

vanidiana24 on November 20, 2009:

They look so much fun!

FlynntheCat1 on November 04, 2009:

And blessed again :D

Patricia on November 04, 2009:

Pop out books were always fun when I was a child

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on November 03, 2009:

Fascinating!!! I have always loved pop-up books and these are wonderful! I can see why adults would like them (and collect them)

anonymous on November 03, 2009:

Wonderful selection of Pop-Up Books!

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