Kids Reading A Book

Hiya, Readers!

I wanted to revisit an idea I shared in my column several years ago about utilizing vacations to encourage literacy.  Now, I realize traveling is expensive and we all won’t take that trip we’ve been dreaming of to Greece, Florida or on a luxury cruise this year. But when summer is in full swing, the kids are always ready for fun adventures.

Many of us are on a fixed budget and can’t afford repeated trips to amusement parks, beaches or campgrounds. Instead of trying to afford adventures – create them with a STAYCATION.  Imagine taking a trip to the beach or a campground without ever leaving home or paying for parking!  A STAYCATION is a retreat for the entire family. 

Here are three doable ideas to inspire your next at-home vacation that can easily include books, too.

• Make your own beach oasis and dune with a few bags of beach sand. There are many design possibilities. Add a large plastic pool with water to dip the toes. Balance the theme with ocean-related props from a local discount store.

Position a few chairs and relax with a book to share. Don’t forget the sunblock!

• Grab your sleeping bags and put up a tent to camp in your own yard. If you don’t have a tent, there are always a few sets of sheets that could easily be used to fashion a fancy clubhouse. Don’t skimp; make the entire process realistic.

Pack a bag with snacks, bug spray, flashlights, water and other campout necessities.  Share stories, watch the stars, play games and read books. And make some s’mores! 

• How about a journey to another country? Italy perhaps? All it takes is a bit of research and a limitless imagination. Decorate to complement the chosen country, dress up for the occasion, cook a traditional dish, learn a few words in the language spoken or listen to customary music. 

Not sure where to begin?  Visit your local library to find books to start your own international celebration!

We don’t have to travel to an actual tropical paradise to make lasting vacation memories with our kids.  Sheet tents and paper flowers will make fond memories, too! Try a new destination each week and look for any angle to incorporate books.

Until next month, I’ll be sailing the sea with my grandsons – in a large hardware store box in my living room and then it’s a journey to a faraway island in my own backyard!



Camp Out! The Ultimate Kids' Guide

Written by Lynn Brunelle

ISBN: 0761141227

Reading Level: Ages: 7 to 12

Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, 256 pages

Learn to pitch a tent, tell the temperature by counting the cricket chirps, use a compass and so much more. Filled with useful information, crafts, recipes, campfire stories and guides – this is a fantastic book for kids with everything needed to master camping.

Five-Minute Mini-Mysteries

Written by Stan Smith, Illustrated by Kathleen O’Malley

ISBN: 1402700318

Reading Level: Ages: 10 and up

Publisher: Sterling, 96 pages

Join Detective Stanwick for 30 interesting and exciting mysteries that only take five minutes each to read! Perfect for the whole family – someone reads aloud and everyone else tries to solve each mystery.  Every story has clues and logic puzzles to figure out.

Around the World Art & Activities: Visiting the 7 Continents Through Craft Fun

Written by Judy Press, Art by Betsy Day

ISBN: 1885593457

Reading Level: Ages: 3 and up

Publisher: Williamson Pub, 128 pages

Get crafty and take a getting-to-know-you tour across 7 continents.  Learn about Japan and make Japanese dolls or design sand dunes in Africa.  Create things like a passport and totem pole with simple instructions and fun facts.