There are books that have fluffy bunnies. Ones that make noises from animals, vehicles, and the occasional dead composer. But until some enterprising publisher prints a book entirely out of cheese, the best you can hope for at storytime is employing 4 out of your kid’s 6 senses.
Why not purposely add smell to the nightly reading ritual (hey, it’s not your fault that crock pot chili was for dinner) with these 7 scratch and sniff books? Because your child should really know how to tell the difference between poop and potpourri.
Introduce a social studies lesson that stings the nostrils. Mary Dobson’s series of “Smelly Old” books drop some olfactory knowledge on your kid while leading them through the historical odors from of the Romans, the Greeks, and Victorian English. Fair warning: Medieval times smells a lot like Sex Panther.
Ages: 8 – 11
Smelly Old History: Tudor Odours by Mary Dobson (Available Used)
Paleontologists may not love Jane Yolen’s series of How Do Dinosaurs… children’s books because her prehistoric beasts clean their rooms, play with their friends, and don’t bite the heads off of anything. But these scientists aren’t known for their whimsy. Let the dozens of other books on the bookshelf teach them the Latin names — this one smells like Famous Amos and has a receipe for Cinnama-Saurus Rex.
Ages: 3 – 5
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague ($8)
It’s a bedtime book that might actually help put your child to sleep. In this story, the titular hardworking bee explores the world of aromatherapy (which you probably thought was just a bullshit aisle in Whole Foods) by flitting over flowers with fragrances like lavender, chamomile, neroli, and rose. If it doesn’t work, try moving on to shakra crystals or bikram yoga.
Hardworking Honey Bee by Tiffany Briggs and Liz Guenthner ($20)
Of all the subjects to learn about through smell, food would be first (water treatment plants probably come in last). So you can teach your baby about food by a) feeding them or b) getting them this board book where they can interact with fruits, vegetables, and the top of the childhood food pyramid: Pizza. Or, theoretically, you could do both.
Ages: 4 – 8
Scratch and Sniff Food by DK Children (Available Used)
To kids, gross smells are funny. To you, gross smells are a way of life. And while you can breathe in a full diaper or sour milk whenever you want (you’re lucky that way), this scratch and sniff book at least gives your kid a little science behind the noxious odors. It’s the most vomit-inducing tale since The Dirt.
The Truly Tasteless Scratch and Sniff Book by DK Children (Available Used)
A few enterprising Brits have turned 11 scenes from kids’ movies (and more than a few R-rated ones) into scented cinematic recreations: Chilled monkey brains from Temple of Doom. Pizza from Home Alone. Even a bag of Doritos from Wayne’s World (excellent). You’re probably going to want to skip the Stand By Me page.
Ages: Most pages are 10+
Palatable Pictures by Belly Kids (£7)
You’ve seen Sideways, but you still don’t understand why Paul Giamatti isn’t drinking any f**king merlot. Master Sommelier Richard Betts will give you a brand a new reason to appreciate wine, beyond its function as parenting nerve tonic. Learn how to tell a Sangiovese from a Pinot Noir, or a Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc. You may be covered in spit up, but you’re no philistine.
The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert by Richard Betts and Wendy MacNaughton ($20)