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The Best Books to Read with a Magnifying Glass

Sometimes sitting down with “just a book” can be a little overwhelming for kids.  All those words and pages — especially if they’re just starting to read or not overly crazy about reading.

And then there’s the whole sitting part of reading — not something our kids EVER really did; they would constantly move and always enjoyed having something to do during reading time.

So over the next four weeks, we’re going to feature a series of fun books for kids can read with their favorite STEM items!

Today’s list includes favorite stories to read with a magnifying glass (think mysteries, nature detectives and hidden pictures!)  — because who can resist reading a book when you have a cool science tool in your hand, right?!


Great books for kids to read using a magnifying glass!

Best Books to Read with a Magnifying Glass

When I was young, we always had a magnifying glass in the house.  My Dad collected pennies and we would each take a handful of coins and look at them under the magnifier to find the dates he needed.  It was so cool to see those tiny details come to life!

I hope you have a magnifying glass at your home — something kid-friendly is always a plus.  Just in case you don’t have one, here are a few that we really like along with affiiate links so you can learn more about each one:

Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifying Glass is perfect for younger kids!  It’s colorful and nonbreakable so it can easily be used indoors & out.

Carson® Soft Grip Magnifier with 10x Lens is a great choice if you have older kids.  It has a nice soft handle so it’s easy to hold and a strong lens too.

Melissa & Doug Bright Magnifying Glass is a really good choice if you’re looking for an outdoor magnifier!  We used ours for years (it resided in our sandbox) and has a nice long handle and large viewer so more than one person can look through it at the same time.

And don’t kid yourself, a magnifying glass isn’t just about “making things bigger”.  When kids use an item like this they are working on their fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination too!

There are a number of excellent books and stories that are perfect to pair with a magnifying glass — books that encourage kids to look at the details or scout out items in real life. 

We’ve split them into three groups with some fun activities for each:


best books to read with a magnifying glass -- fun ideas for kids to try!

Detective & Spy Stories

I know — probably the first ones that come to mind — kids LOVE mysteries! 

And not just the who-done-it-type but also books that encourage kids to look for clues in order to solve a puzzle.

This is the perfect pretend play opportunity for younger kids — who knows which of them may be the next Nate the Great, right 😉

Having a magnifying glass on hand when you read any fun detective or spy book is great fun no matter what your age — browse this list of 15 Marvelous Mystery Books for a few ideas.

And then there are some books come right out and tell you to use a magnifying glass like the Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime! (pictured above).  The idea behind this book is that the reader must search though the museum to identify which paintings have been stolen and replaced with fake ones — but they all look so real you need a magnifying glass to see the details!

Here are a few more books that will inspire kids to grab a magnifying glass and go look for clues: 

Art Detective: Spot the Difference! is similar to the art book above — kids will need to look very closely at pieces of art to find the differences.

The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base is a beautifully illustrated book with hidden clues in each of the pictures.  There’s so much detail in this story that a mangifying glass is great to have on hand.


Detective Activity:  Try searching for fingerprints at your house!



Nature Books

One of our favorite kid-friendly science tools is a magnifying glass! 

We use it both inside and outdoors with many of our nature activities.

Her are a few examples — being able to see bugs up close, looking at the details of a flower and identifying rocks for our collection — nature has so many amazing things for kids to discover. 

Pipsie, Nature Detective: The Lunchnapper will inspire kids to seek out animal tracks on their next hike or park visit!

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects is a wonderful book about the man who first used a magnifying glass to reveal the lives of bugs!


Nature Activity:  Go on a Bug Hunt with this free printable & draw the insects you find!


best books to read with a magnifying glass 

Mini & Hidden Picture Books

The third group of books we enjoy reading with a magnifying glass are those that have mini-pictures or hidden items throughout.  It’s always fun to have the kids search through the pictures when we read these stories.

As your kids begin to read, have them find words using the magnifier. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to search & find sight words they may be practicing this week at school! 

Or challenge them to find blends — words that begin with ‘sh’ or ‘cr’ like we did in the Curious Kids Go on Vacation: Another Big Book of Words (pictured above).  And a BIG bonus with the Curious Kids series of books — Bobo the bunny is hidden on each page too making another fun ‘find the object’ challenge for kids!

A few other great choices in this category include:

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever is probably my most favorite word book of all time — I love the illustrations and there are so many funny things for kids to notice.

Another wonderful book series to use is the 1001 Things to Spot … series!  These books have challenge kids to find a variety of items in a very detailed illustration on each page.  One of our favorites is the 1001 Things to Spot on Vacation .


Reading Activity:  Create a ‘word challenge’ — find a word for each letter of the alphabet as you read these books.


Be sure to join us for all the Book & STEM Tool activities this month!

May 17th:  Best Books to Read with a Compass

May 24th:  Best Books about Measuring (using a ruler)

May 31st:  Best Books to Read in the Dark (flashlight reading)


Enjoy these other wonderful Magnifying Glass Activities too!



Find the Hidden Numbers Ocean Number Clip Cards from Learning 2 Walk


I Spy Alphabet Search and Find Printable from Mom Inspired Life

Preschool Science: Flower Investigation from Preschool Powol Packets

Magnifying Glass Discovery from Schooling A Monkey

Investigating on the light table from Sugar, Spice and Glitter





Fun find the clues and more detective type activities!