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Rachael Walker

In this special series, children's literacy consultant Rachael Walker and many of the authors, parents, and educators she’s met and worked with talk about how books have changed their lives, how to bring books to life for young readers, and how to enrich kids’ lives with good books. (Also visit Rachael at her blog, Belle of the Book.)

Book-ing Your Child’s Summer Vacation

August 11, 2017

Even though it is already back-to-school time in some parts of the country, there’s still time for reading fun in the summer sun for everyone!

Legendary children’s storytime performer and early childhood educator Sol Livingston has some great ideas for summer reading that will inspire reading road trips all year round.

 

Did you book your child’s vacation yet? Well, there’s still time! Don’t let summer go by without book-ing a vacation … or two … or ten. In fact, book as many vacations as you can!

Wait … what’s that you say?

“You don’t know my situation; I don’t have time for a vacation.”
Then book a short vacation.

“I don’t have money for a vacation.”
Then book a free vacation.

“I don’t have the energy for a vacation.”
Then book a quiet, calming relaxing vacation.

Book-ing a vacation for your child isn’t a long, hard, or labor extensive procedure. In fact, it’s a fun, simple, and memorable activity. All you have to do is read a book to your child and then go on a real-world experience based on what you have read together. It’s that easy! And there are many benefits to book-ing a vacation:

  • You discover new and fun aspects of your hometown and nearby cities.
  • It’s a great way to expand a child’s understanding of the world around them.
  • You don’t have to spend hours in a crowed airport, packing bags, or sitting in traffic.
  • And you’re taking time to connect with your family in an intentional way.

When you book a vacation for your child, you’re setting up experiences that connect what was read to what can be experienced. Making real-world connections is important. When we extend a book to include the sights, sounds, textures, smells, and tastes of real life, the written word and flat pictures in that book become multidimensional and memorable experiences. For example, catching a city bus through town after reading Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña gives your child a chance to have conversations with people he or she may have never spoken to and see different parts of your city. Not only are experiences like this exciting and enriching, but they can help foster a love of reading and learning in your child for years to come.

Here are some family-friendly books along with a few vacation inspirations. Read the books together and then use them as springboards to book your next vacation!

Explore your hometown

Explore your neighborhood books

Books: Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell and City Shapes by Diana Murray

Vacation: Grab your binoculars and go on an exploration of your hometown! Take note of all the various shapes that make up the cities’ buildings and windows, café awnings, and billboards or street signs that hang up above. Or, track down your city’s big, bright, colorful mural that adorns one side of an old building or is sprawled across the bridge that leads to the next town. Get as close to it as you can to it and describe it to each other. Talk about the colors that are used and find the small images that make up the big picture. Using your phone (or an actual camera), take pictures of what you see and stop at the library on the way home to print them out. Place them in a photo album that you can keep for a future game of I-Spy.

Explore nature

Explore nature books

Books: I Took a Walk by Henry Cole and Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee

Vacation: From a city-run botanical garden to an arboretum, to a local nursery or duck pond, the opportunities to explore nature during the summer are endless! Get outside and observe the colors, sounds, textures, and activity of landscape surrounding you. Don’t forget to bring along a sketchbook and markers or watercolors to capture all the rich, beautiful images you see. Not sure where to start? Check with your local parks and recreation department for maps of walking trails and nature themed activities.

Get a taste of the world

Explore food books

Books: The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan Al Abdullah and My Granny Went to Market: A Round-the-World Counting Rhyme by Stella Blackstone

Vacation: Find a flea or famers market in the nearby town and take a walk around to see the assortment of different wares and the variety of fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. You also can get a taste of the world when you visit your city’s “Chinatown” or “Little Italy” and try a new snack or dessert together! For an indoor experience, go grocery shopping at an ethnic market. Walk up and down the aisles exploring the foods on the shelves and pick something you’d like to try at home. And for a unique and interactive experience, go to a museum which often hosts programs for kids and their parents/caregivers. Visit places in Washington, DC or check www.museumsusa.org to find an ethnically or culturally specific museum near you.

Listen and move to music

Explore music books

Books: Violet's Music by Angela Johnson and I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Vacation: During the summer months, it’s not hard to find free outdoor summer concerts. Local coffee shops, county fairs, public libraries, and street festivals of all kinds often have live musical performances and are a fantastic way to expose your kids to new kinds of rhythms and songs! Listen to a Latin jazz band in the town square or dance along to the beats of the downtown street performers. Point out the different instruments the musicians are playing, listen to their sounds, and talk about how the music makes you and those around you feel.

Wherever your stories lead you, don’t forget to bring along what inspired you to book your vacation. Take a picture of your child holding the book you read to him or her while you are out and about to keep as a digital postcard of your adventures together.

Booking a vacation provides your child with a multi-sensory experience that will allow him or her to gain knowledge in a more meaningful way. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

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"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." — Margaret Fuller