Summer Reading List: Camping, Hiking, Fishing

Summer sets the stage for fun outdoors. The days are long, and families have time to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer. I grew up camping and have a great appreciation for a quality air mattress and tents with netted windows that promote air circulation. If I close my eyes and travel back in time, I can smell the wood smoke, the sizzling bacon and coffee made the old-fashioned way.

Those annual summer excursions to our nation’s national parks involved long drives in a Volkswagen van, retrofitted into a camper that could sleep seven in a pinch. When we kids weren’t teasing each other, we played cards and car games and looked out the windows. I would read the books I stashed in my allotted space, and then reread them on the return trip home. There wasn’t room for a laundry basket of books, and PCs, iPads, e-readers and iPods were just a twinkle in some future techie’s eye. Sometimes there was the static-laced baseball game on the car radio while my dad was driving, but that was about it.

Now with expanding Wi-Fi access, 3G devices and all sorts of high-tech gadgets (about which I am embarrassingly thick), an incredible amount of remote connectivity is available. While in 2011 it’s nice to unplug from the demands of daily living, electronic thingamabobs make it convenient to check in with the pet-sitter, call your Grammy on her birthday, and read books even if it rains on your vacation.

That’s what’s so cool about Big Universe – its 24/7 access to children’s books. Even if you don’t have room in your backpack or carry-on, you can still read books to your children if you have a laptop or iPad and Internet access. This anytime-anywhere convenience is particularly attractive to ex-pats overseas, field-tripping homeschoolers, or parents and kids who have to sit for an extended time in a waiting room or airport.

Big Universe’s portable access enables teachers and parents to strike while the iron is hot. If you are planning a visit to a science center or the zoo, read a safari book or story about mammals beforehand. Try to locate particular animals during your zoo visit, and use new vocabulary words while watching the animals’ antics. If you are going camping for the first time this summer, read a book about this outdoor adventure. Headed for the beach? There are fiction and non-fiction picture books about turtles, fish, birds and salt water marshes on Big Universe, too. (Hint: If you take time to explore the nature centers at parks and participate in their programs, you’ll enhance your child’s level of literacy and make a lasting impression.)

Camping, Hiking & Fishing Books for Children

While the vacation destinations were always worth the vehicular captivity my parents inflicted on my siblings and me during our childhood, being en route was not our favorite thing. That’s why I laughed out loud when I read this quote from an anonymous source:

“A vacation is like love – anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia.”

Fortunately for today’s parents and kids, technology and gadgets make car travel a bit easier to bear. And, when the gizmos grow old, you can always try one of the literacy-enhancing car games mentioned in the following Big Universe blog series.

  1. “The ABCs of Car Games: Part One”
  2. “The ABCs of Car Games: Part Two”
  3. “The ABCs of Car Games: Part Three”

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