- Darcie Caswell
Where has the summer gone? I feel like it has flown by, and I was starting to get a little down about that, but rather than think, “Oh, my gosh, it’s almost August!”, I decided to take a glass-half-full approach and tell myself, “There are still six weeks until Labor Day!” Plenty of time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. Six weeks of summer means plenty of time to still sign up for Summer Reading at the library, earn fun prizes, and become eligible for raffle drawings for other terrific prizes, including tablets, book bundles, and movie passes.
We all know it is vital to keep kids reading over the summer to prevent summer learning loss, so keep those young ones reading, but also remember summer reading is for everyone. If you have kids or teens in your life, set a good example for them by reading yourself. And, if you don’t have young people in your life, take advantage of the long summer days and extra time you may get on vacation to relax with a good book.
Summer is, of course, prime vacation time, and it can sometimes be challenging to find ways to keep kids entertained while traveling. Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s new Launchpads are a great addition to family travel plans, providing kids ages 3-7 with educational (and fun) games, apps and eBooks preloaded on a tablet that does not require Internet, so it can be used in the car, on an airplane, or anywhere your family travels.
If you are preparing for a trip with kids, whether for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, it is often fun for them to learn about the places they are going and what they might experience.
For young children who will be flying on an airplane, The Airport Book, by Lisa Brown, is a great primer for what they will experience at an airport and on an airplane. With simple descriptions and age-appropriate vocabulary, this picture book follows a family as they head to the airport and explains the key steps in air travel, from remembering to pack a beloved stuffed animal and getting a ride to the airport, to standing in line (many lines), getting on the plane, and retrieving luggage at the destination. It is a simple and cute story, but it will also give children an introduction to what they will experience, including safety announcements, seat belts, and snacks. If you have children who have previously traveled on an airplane, they will enjoy connecting the story with their own experiences, as it will trigger memories of their own—and which they will love to share.
Many children love to learn interesting facts about the world, and information books are just the ticket. The 50 States, by Gabrielle Balkan, presents each of the states alphabetically in this big, beautifully illustrated book, with a two-page spread for each state featuring facts and information laid out in attractive, infographic style. In addition to the “Key Facts,” including each state’s capital, largest cities, state bird, state flower and the like, readers will also find famous people from each state (both historical and contemporary), key places to visit, and key moments in the state’s history. This is not really a book to read from cover to cover, but rather one to explore by hunting around for fun tidbits about each state as you travel or talk about traveling.
Similarly, National Geographic Kids’ National Parks Guide U.S.A., by Sarah Wassner Flynn and Julie Beer, is chock full of information and facts, this time about the national parks. The 2016 Centennial Edition, celebrating the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, begins with a map showing the location of all the national parks, followed by sections focusing on the parks regionally (East, Midwest, and West), with detailed, full-color photos showing the variety of natural beauty across the country. Each section features the biggest or best-known parks, then has a list of “Other Must-See Park Properties” in that region. For each of the featured parks, there are “Ranger Tips” on particular things to watch out for, what kind of wildlife is in that park, and suggestions on where to find the best views.
This article first appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.