For some kids, picking up a book is pure torture in the summer. For others,’s not totally out of the question, provided it’s a puzzle or activity book. So if you’re looking for some new screen-free, paperback fun for the kids, here are a few extra-cool new puzzle and activity books that I imagine tons of kids are going be sneaking under the covers with a flashlight after lights-out.

Pssst…they’re also great for stashing at the grandparents’ place. Trust me.

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You can also look for these titles at your local bookseller.

Fun new activity and puzzle books for kids: Maze Quest by Travis Nichols is as hilarious as it is engaging |

Maze Quest 

Even if you don’t know the work of writer/illustrator Travis Nichols, you do know his newest puzzle book is going to be irreverent and fun just from the cover, which features skeleton guards (one isn’t in such great shape) and the imperative to “save the dang realm!”

It’s written like a humorous choose-your-own-adventure story, with an actual plot that kids will love following. And of course, there are tons of superbly clever maze missions to get you to the end, like crossing the Sea of Sickness, running away from the Ghoul King, or finding an important scrap of paper somewhere among the foothills of Shinsplint Mountain. I actually think I’ve been there.
(Note: It’s now on preorder at Amazon for August 7.)

Related: 4 creative journals to get kids drawing, reflecting, or plotting to save the world

Fun new activity and puzzle books for kids: Kids Awesome Activity Book is packed with stickers, prompts, and ideas to get kids doing creative stuff away from the book, too |

The Kid’s Awesome Activity Book

If stickers are the key to getting your kid to shut off a tablet, Mike Lowery‘s wonderfully illustrated new puzzle and activity book (also shown at top) is calling their name.More than 800 stickers means you might want to have a talk about where we do (notebooks, backpacks) and don’t (the coffee table, the dog) stick stickers.

This is a book packed with nearly 100 drawing prompts, puzzles, games, crafts, secret codes to be cracked, and more. I especially love that it directs kids to get creative beyond the book — like if your child writes a song for a cat rock band (the very first activity my kids would probably choose), or cut up the pieces to make their own animal masks, they’re likely to want to make a video to document the results.


Doodle Journeys journal by Dawn DeVries Sokolov

Doodle Journeys: A Fill-In Journal for Everyday Explorers

I fell in love with Dawn DeVries Sokolis’s journal a few months back and it still remains a favorite of mine for kids who best express themselves visually — or want to. The colorful, intentionally messy pages are filled with paint drips, water color splotches, handwritten prompts and Sharpie doodles, which cleverly put you in a “there are no mistakes” mindset. From there, kids can pick a page and dive in, whether they’re inclined to design their own perfect country, or gaze at the summer sky and draw the shapes they see in the stars.

In fact, you may want to grab this one for yourself, parents. It’s just that inspiring.