Best activity books for children

Best activity books for kids
Whether you're on the move or at home, a great activity book offers hours of screen-free learning and fun. Crosswords, maths challenges, mystery solving and code writing are all covered in our best activity books for kids picks. We can't guarantee you won't want to help out with the puzzling, though!
Sherlock Bones and the Times Table Adventure

Sherlock Bones and the Times Table Adventure

(£6.99, Buster Books)

Help Sherlock Bones and Dr Catson follow a trail of multiplication-themed puzzles to foil Professor Moriratty's evil plan, using the Secret Solver magnifying glass to reveal correct answers! A charming, beautifully produced KS2 maths activity book (we also love Sherlock Bones and the Addition & Subtraction Adventure).
The Round the World Quiz Book

The Round the World Quiz Book

(£7.99, Lonely Planet Kids)

Can you name the biggest country in the world? Do you know where to find the world's tallest waterfall, or which of the world's flags isn't rectangular? Packed with more than 500 tricky and fascinating questions about our amazing world and loads of illustrations, it's time to challenge family and friends with geography puzzlers on 'Epic Earth', 'Extreme Places', 'Animal Magic' and 'Strange but True.
Hoakes Island: A Fiendish Puzzle Adventure

Hoakes Island: A Fiendish Puzzle Adventure

(£10.99, Laurence King Publishing)

Look through a notebook of diary entries, notes, puzzles and clues to save Hoakes Island Amusement Park and its animal residents – it's a race against time and a quest that only a puzzle master can complete! Ingenious and engrossing, this book comes with a map and red lens to discover secret clues with.
Brain Gaming for Clever Kids

Brain Gaming for Clever Kids

(£4.99, Buster Books)

Logic, reasoning and problem-solving puzzles designed to help kids keep their brains active and engaged, in a light, kids'-backpack-friendly paperback. Activities include battleships, mind-bending spot the differences and Japanese puzzles including hanjie, kakuro, futoshiki, sudoku and lots more.
Destroy This Book in the Name of Maths: Pythagoras Edition

Destroy This Book in the Name of Maths: Pythagoras Edition

(£9.99, Buster Books)

We love the press-out projects in this book, a hands-on and practical way to help kids understand maths facts by making flexagons and mind-bending Möbius strips and trying out some mathemagical card tricks. Plus there's numerical doodling and the chance to read minds with a "psychic" octahedron...
Travel Activity Pad

Travel Activity Pad

(£5.99, Usborne)

A tear-off pad that's packed with nearly 200 pen-and-paper puzzles to keep children entertained on planes, trains, automobiles or wherever they happen to be! It includes picture puzzles, word puzzles, simple logic puzzles, odd ones out, spot the difference and more. Add a pack of colouring pens and you'll be ready to travel!
All Aboard The Discovery Express

All Aboard The Discovery Express

(£14.99, Wide Eyed Editions)

An interactive, lift-the-flap adventure, the Discovery Express will help aspiring historians and engineers explore the history of transport. The year is 1937 and a professor on the verge of a brilliant discovery has disappeared. Will you be able to help to solve the clues on this time-travelling adventure and track down the missing scientist? 
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do-It-Yourself Book

(£6.99, Puffin)

Produce your very own Wimpy Kid diary! Draw your own Wimpy-Kid-style cartoons, fill in facts and lists, check out the full-colour comics inside and even write your own Wimpy Kid journal, just like Greg.
Kids' Mad Libs

Kids' Mad Libs

(£3, Price Stern Sloan)

Stealth education at its best – Mad Libs® is an American word game that kids love. Featuring make-your-own stories on a variety of subjects children know, from toys to school and parents, this notepad-style book brings youngsters hours of word-filled, vocabulary-boosting, grammar-packed fun (yes, really).
The Usborne Ultimate Fantasy Puzzle Book

The Usborne Ultimate Fantasy Puzzle Book

(£14.99, Usborne)

This wonderfully illustrated puzzle book is packed full of mystical things to find, fiendish puzzles to solve and magical monsters to outwit. Embark on a series of fantasy quests featuring the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, dragons, monsters, gnomes, goblins and a whole host of mythical creatures.
This is a Horrible Colouring Book (Horrible Histories)

This is a Horrible Colouring Book (Horrible Histories)

(£9.99, Scholastic)

You'll need some 'blood-stained browns' or 'revolting reds' to get the grisly details right when colouring in scenes from the lives of pirates, Incas and Romans. From the rotten rituals of the Egyptians to the cruel crimes of Blackbeard, this colouring book is a terrible trip through history.
No Worries!

No Worries!

(£8.99, Studio Press)

Colour, draw and doodle your way to calm with this best-selling interactive self-care activity book for children aged 7+. The simple activities and exercises help to tackle anxiety, sadness and stress by encouraging kids to use their creativity to combat negative feelings, work out why they feel worried and put stress back in its place.
Disney Coding Adventures: First Steps for Kid Coders

Disney Coding Adventures: First Steps for Kid Coders

(£9.85, Lerner Publications)

A very first coding activity book for KS1, to teach the basics of computational thinking. No computer is required: write instructions with the Frozen characters in an introduction to algorithms, find bugs and errors with Ralph, learn about conditionals with Elastigirl and Dash and tackle looping with Dory and Nemo.
Engineering Activity Book

Engineering Activity Book

(£6.99, b small publishing)

Discover engineering all around us: from marvellous mazes, spot the difference and drawing puzzles to mental challenges, pattern identifying and testing quizzes, the activities in this book introduce KS1 children to science with hands-on fun as well as information and facts.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World Activity Book

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World Activity Book

(£5.99, Bloomsbury Activity Books)

An activity book based on Kate Pankhurst's best-selling Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, full of inspiring activities, information about amazing women and over 200 stickers. Will you write your own stories with Jane Austen, lead a fashion revolution like Coco Chanel or walk in the footprints of Mary Anning to uncover the skeletons of dinosaurs?
My Travel Journal

My Travel Journal

(£8.99, Lonely Planet Kids)

Document an exciting travel adventure with this bright and bold journal and scrapbook from Lonely Planet Kids. Packed with writing topic suggestions, lists to complete, ideas for getting the creative juices flowing and lots more fill-in fun, this is the perfect way for young travellers to record their memories from a trip.
Great Book of Whodunnit Puzzles

Great Book of Whodunnit Puzzles

(£5.99, Sterling Juvenile)

A 90s classic that will keep mystery-lovers entertained for hours! The book features forty-three mini-mysteries (thefts, forgeries, break-ins and murders) which the reader gets to solve. You'll need to test your powers of deduction on phony alibis, baffling clues and pieces of evidence; the solutions are in the back of the book if you're baffled!
Pierre The Maze Detective: The Mystery of the Empire Maze Tower

Pierre The Maze Detective: The Mystery of the Empire Maze Tower

(£14.99, Laurence King Publishing)

Mr X the Phantom Thief is back, with a new evil plan! He wants to steal the shining light from the top of the Empire Maze Tower, New Maze City's greatest treasure... A brilliant maze challenge adventure which will keep kids 8+ occupied for hours as they search through mazes for people and objects. Highly recommended.
This Book Thinks You're an Artist

This Book Thinks You're an Artist

(£8.95, Thames & Hudson)

Learn about art history with a selection of practical activities on painting, sculpture, illustration, decorative art, photography and contemporary art. You might make a Bruegel circus, play a Surrealist game, paint your face like a Russian Futurist or even build a camera obscura!
Secret Seven Brain Games

Secret Seven Brain Games

(£5.99, Hodder Children's Books)

Inspired by the mystery-solving kids in the best-selling Secret Seven stories by Enid Blyton, this puzzle compendium is packed with codes, puzzles, sudokos, crosswords, wordsearches, I-spy games and more. No need to stare at a screen or hunt for a charger; just a pencil and your brain are required for hours of entertainment.
Art Masterclass with Van Gogh

Art Masterclass with Van Gogh

(£9.99, Wide Eyed Editions)

Learn how to create art in the style of the masters by taking an Art Masterclass! Drawing, colouring and collaging activities will show you how Van Gogh worked and what inspired him; then you can use the stickers and your new knowledge to create your very own Van Gogh-inspired masterpiece on a pull-out poster.
Treasure Hunt House

Treasure Hunt House

(£14.99, Lincoln Children's Books)

Explore an old house with a lift-the-flaps treasure hunt and find out about famous objects from history as you solve puzzles. There are instruments, items of clothing, animal skeletons and Shakespeare's plays to uncover, with 50 questions to answer hidden in the illustrations.
The Big Book of Riddles

The Big Book of Riddles

(£6.99, Arcturus)

Get ready for some brain-scratching fun with 300 riddles including brain teasers, logic puzzles, tongue-twisters and silly puns (as well as some great cartoon illustrations). Whether you're 8 or 80, this collection will get you thinking differently, but we warned – some of the riddles are fiendishly hard as well as funny!
Pyramid Puzzles

Pyramid Puzzles

(£6.21, Hungry Tomato)

A choose-your-own-adventure-style puzzle book devised by brain training expert Dr Gareth Moore. Can you solve numeracy and literacy puzzles to escape out of an Egyptian pyramid? There are hints and tips to help you if you get stuck, but you'll need to solve every single challenge to make your way past a snake pit, booby traps and a treasure cave!

TheSchoolRun activity packs to download

TheSchoolRun's learning packs cover everything from geometry to phonics, with lots of puzzling options! All 50+ packs are available for instant download to TheSchoolRun subscribers. 

From KS1 maths puzzles to KS2 spelling code-breaking, what will you try first?