Now that school’s out and the days are long, many use the time to travel and see what’s local and far away. With bags packed and kids in tow, families get on the road, train, boat or plane to explore the world around them. Whether the trip takes 30 minutes or hours at a time, here are a few helpful pointers to maximize the kids’ summer reading while traveling to your next adventure. These are tips I’ve used as well as both a teacher recommending things to parents and as a mother of three kids who absolutely love to be on the go!
Have a plan. You might be able to throw a few books in and go for a trip to the grocery store, but for longer trips, you’ll need to have a few tricks up your sleeve. It might require dropping by your local library, researching great ebooks for your kids to download, or looking to see which books you can borrow from a friend.
Get the kids involved in packing. Give your kids some freedom in this area, and come to an agreement with what they can and cannot take with them. While encouraging them to pack for the vacation, make sure they have a variety of books, including fiction, academic, non-fiction, and activity/leisure style books. This helps them keep their interests and works to fight against boredom. I love using caddies for this purpose, but some also use over the chair organizers as well. For the caddy, the larger compartment can be a place where the books are stored. Have them pick out a few favorites they may not mind reading more than once.
Read all about it! Going to a new place for the family? Get some stories (if available) or reference books related to the place you’re visiting. This can help kids become excited about the trip, which helps a lot if it’s going to take a long time. They can ask questions that they’ll hopefully have the answers to when they are on the way home.
Have a few book-friendly snacks. Those road trips can be long, so to keep things going on track, have enough snacks to last until you reach your vacation spot, gas station, or restaurant. Pre-cut apple slices, grapes, veggies, cheese, mini crackers/cookies, water, gummy candy, and dried fruit are great choices to store in the smaller parts of your caddy or organizer. Avoid large pieces of food, greasy items, and items that can be messy (think burritos, large cookies, and pasta) that can damage pages.
Expect the unexpected. Have a favorite book or two per kid stashed away just in case traffic, a flat tire, flight delay, or any other unplanned incident. If you don’t use them, save it for the trip home. It can be surprising to kids when you pull out a favorite or new story for them to read when driving home, especially if it relates to the experience or place they visited.
Scrapbook it! Make a story on your favorite photo sharing website, have a book or journal they can write in, or get a single-use camera/mobile phone/instant ready camera and let your kids snap away. They can also film the trip using a handheld camera. At the end, look over the kids’ photos and have them talk about what they saw. This can be rather fun–and funny–as this is a tradition our family uses when we travel out of state for our annual family reunions.
Map it out. Where would many be without your go-to GPS app? Some live solely by this, but do you remember life before everything was in the palm of your hand? Well, give kids a map [via print-out or atlas available at your local visitor’s center and some gas stations] of the place you’re staying or the route if it’s relatively close by. Have them track and predict how long or far you are. Throw in a visitor’s brochure that talks about where you’re going. If it’s a scenic route, have them look for landmarks or other things that will help reduce anxiety and the well-known kid refrain, “Are we there yet?” They should be able to tell you and answer that question for themselves. If it’s another country altogether, have them tell you what the atlas or map says is important. Whenever we were learning about our nation’s capital, they absolutely loved picking out famous sites and exploring where we may go for our field trip each year. This one takes a little pre-planning but it can pay off in dividends if you do the ground work.
I’d love to know which one of these ideas would help the most. Share your experiences below.