As my kids have grown, I’ve realized that certain milestones mean so much more to me than I ever expected – especially at vacation time. Not needing to pack diapers and wipes, or worry about good places to nurse or heat up bottles was the first – and most predictably freeing – milestone. Freedom from strollers and sippy cups came next. Then the amazing joy of having children who can fasten their own seatbelts (so I don’t have to climb over luggage, toys, pillows and sisters to do it for them 20 times a day.) I can’t even describe how much I appreciate the fact that my children are no longer frightened of automatic-flush toilets, or of grown-ups dressed like cartoon characters. But can you guess the milestone that has changed daily life – and vacation life – the most for me?
Having independent readers while traveling is a total game changer! They are easily entertained in the car, in the airport, and at the beach. They can read while we wait for a table in crowded, touristy restaurants or lounge on the beach. It’s amazing how much smoother life goes with kids who read for pleasure! And I’m sure my fellow travelers are happier about it, too. For one thing, I sing a lot less now. (You’re welcome.)
If you are planning a trip with younger kids, you can check out my tips for Reading Road Trips in an earlier post. Believe me, I’ve driven from NJ to Iowa with 3 pre-readers half a dozen times, I know how to keep them entertained.
If you’d like to “treat” your kids to some fun, sure-to-please vacation reads, check out this post on choosing graphic novels for kids. Magazines are also a great vacation pick, since they are light-weight and easy to jettison if you pick up a few too many souvenirs.
If your child has an e-reader, or shares one with you, think about starting him on a new series for vacation. When he finishes the first book and comes begging for the next – nothing could be easier! For some favorite series inspiration, see my post here, these top series from Booksource, or this line up from Erica at What Do We Do All Day.
Vacation is also a great time for your child to start a journal or scrapbook. It’s a fun way to remember their adventures, and a great literacy exercise. If you’d like to give them some inspiration, GoodReads has an awesome list of the top diary-style books in children’s literature!
I also like to stock up on activity books, like crosswords, MadLibs, mazes and puzzles, or any of these wonderful Usborne activity books.
Don’t forget that guide books, non-fiction about your destination, and maps/atlases all give your kids fun ways to get involved and excited. And as you pack, giving children a check-list of items to include in their suitcase gives young ones valuable literacy practice (and older ones a reference guide so they don’t end up in West Nowhere without a phone charger. Or deodorant.)
What are your favorite suggestions for #RaisingReaders while on vacation? I’d love to have your tips and links below!