This tip is the obvious sequel to Tip #16, which reminded parents to talk about the family’s plans for reading while traveling. Talking about plans for reading is important, but kids must actually have a supply of books with them for their plans to materialize! Once you have built an expectation (through before-trip talking) that reading will be part of the vacation experience, then assume that kids will need to pack lots of books! And share that assumption with your kids. Involve the kids in the actual packing of the books, which is a terrific opportunity to convey the importance of reading in everyday (non-school) life. Decide with them how many books to bring, where the books will be packed, how they will be made to fit amongst all the other necessities. If you’re flying, even talk about luggage weight limits, and determine the weight of the books you need so that you know how much weight remains. (a good little real-life math equation for younger ones!) If your suitcase is over weight, maybe you take out a couple of shirts or an extra pair of shoes rather than a book. This sounds silly, but it goes a long way in communicating values about reading!
Just as it is important for kids to have a “next reads pile” that they are excited about (see Tip #3), books that you travel with should also be those that kids are excited to read. Talk with your kids about what they want to read while on vacation. Do they want to pack books that are pulled from their “next reads pile” at home, so as to continue their at-home summer reading diet? Oftentimes, however, deviating from “the regulars” adds appeal to vacation reading. Three ways to mix it up and add variety into vacation reading are:
- Pack thematic reading materials that relate to your travel destination. Get your hands on books about your travel destination’s sights and attractions, geography, history, current events, and culture. And look for fictional and nonfictional stories that take place in the same city, state, or country as your vacation spot. Depending on where you are going, this likely requires a library visit or online book order. Travel brochures, guidebooks, and maps “count” as reading and can be a good way to make vacation reading unique and fun.
- Consider “packing” audiobooks especially for road trips, and e-books, and interactive story apps on Kindles and Ipads. Mobile technology is so easy to bring along, and especially for kids who are turned on by technology, it’s an appealing way to make vacation reading special. Many libraries have audiobooks for checkout, and there are also many free websites that offer audiobooks, such as Speakabooks.com. Interactive storybook apps combine reading, participation, and entertainment so that are a good vacation treat. There are many lists on the internet of good reading apps — click here, here, here, here, and here to check out a few of these great lists.
- Do other non-book forms of text appeal to your child for vacation reading? Mix up your kids’ at-home reading diet with newspaper articles, magazines, poetry, joke and riddle books, and graphic novels. All kinds of texts count, and variety in text type might provide a welcomed change for vacation reading.
Also remember to pack materials for writing, such as pens, markers and crayons; paper; blank books for bookmaking and/or journaling. And consider taking along those Summer Reading Book Bags that kids decorated at the beginning of summer. (See Tip #4) Kids can use their bags to carry books on vacation excursions or just routine trips to the pool. Perhaps most importantly, make sure the kids see you packing books for you as well!
In Our Family… We just arrived this evening at the destination of our first of two vacations this summer. Here’s a list of the materials we packed:
- Books in each child’s backpack for en route reading on the airplane
- Enough books in the suitcase for daily reading
- Writing tools, including scissors, a hole puncher, rings, and paper which sometimes inspires bookmaking during down time; blank books for vacation journals (see http://www.barebooks.com for great materials)
- The Shrek picture book (by William Steig) and corresponding DVD, so we can have a fun family reading activity one afternoon if we need a break from the beach and sun. See Tip #15 for a list of questions to facilitate a discussion about the book versus the movie with good thinking and critical analysis.
- This year, the kids are documenting their summer reading by adding stickies to a large timeline that shows the books they read each day and corresponding dates. The kids brought their stickies along so they can continue to write down titles of books read. Last summer they made a “Reading Tree” and we traveled with blank leaves to fill out for each book completed. Whatever your system, it helps if you pack materials so kids can continue to do it while you are away.
As a sidenote, please know that we don’t tend to spend more than 30 minutes a day reading, and the reading certainly never takes over the vacation! But the kids know that reading is something that we do no matter where we are — because it’s pleasurable and important and part of who we are.