What Books Can Do

This week continues the Stay-Cation theme to provide ideas for those who cannot take an extended family vacation. For information regarding Stay-Cation please check archives.
Girl.ReadsWhat can a book do for you this summer?
A book can…
…bring closeness between you and your children as you read together.
…bridge age differences among your children.
…give you and your children a mini-vacation inside your imaginations.
…teach through fiction. Therefore, choose wisely.
…provide an idea for a day trip.

Aside from the obvious trip to the library for the weekly sack full of books or to stock up on the summer reading list, there is the opportunity to pick up the perfect read aloud.

Read-Alouds – Create Mini-Vacations Inside Your Imagination
One thing I loved to do with our children was read-aloud. During read-alouds my children colored, played quietly with toys, or just listened with rapt attention.woman-309201_960_720

I read to them for approximately an hour, or as long as my voice held out—whichever came first. While I read, my children colored, played quietly with toys, or just listened with rapt attention. Often they became so enthralled with the story that they begged me to read longer. Summertime allowed me to oblige. However, if I kept to that hour, it gave us all something to look forward to the next day.

Read Aloud Tips
Resist the urge to explain what you just read. Explaining breaks the fictional dream. Allow their little brain cells to work for them. Of course, if your children ask you to help them understand, that’s different.

Long summer afternoons when the heat has exhausted everyone and it’s too hot to play outside anyway could be the perfect time for a read-loud.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease gives some good suggestions.library-951488_960_720

Make friends with your children’s librarian. He/she can give you plenty of book titles.

In general pick a fiction book that is closer to the reading level of your oldest child or in-between the skills of your two oldest children. Younger siblings will glean from it as they see the older children actively engaged in listening. (Obviously you may have to make adjustments with a wide age span or if you have a toddler.)
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Choose subjects of mutual interest. For instance, the youngest child may not be able to read as well as your other children, but if he/she loves horses…well you get the idea. Capitalize on their interests.horse-419235_960_720

Animals and humor are perpetual favorites. Why not combine the two?
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (Really, any of the books by Beverly Cleary will provide humor.)
All Creatures Great and Small by James Harriott might do the trick for older children. Although, you may occasionally have to break the rule about not explaining or else just let some of it go over their heads.
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Need another idea? How about a mystery?
For younger children, try the series involving a child detective: Nate the Great.
Believe it or not, my five and seven-year-old children were as interested as their older siblings when we read: Detectives in Togas and The Golden Goblet.

Looking for more current titles? Try the William Allen White master lists. Every year I get a list of the nominees from my library. (You may have to look online if your library doesn’t compose a list.) Invariably I find these books are more interesting to read than many adult books. The list is divided into Grades 3-5 and 6-8. The majority of the nominees are fiction, including some mysteries. Occasionally there are a few biographies as well.

You may also want to look through the list of Newberry finalists and winners.
The Caldecott nominees and winners are a good place to look for best picture books—if you need shorter books to read-aloud, but still want quality as opposed to twaddle.

All these books are only my suggestions. Make certain you are comfortable with the subject matter and language. After all, it’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate for your children.

The Quiet Hour – A Refreshing Mini-Vacation
When we were done with our read-aloud we prepared for The Quiet Hour. Never heard of it?

I can’t claim credit for The Quiet Hour idea. Elisabeth Elliott shared it on her radio program years ago. However, I believe some resourceful and wise women created it long before, though perhaps with a different name.

Quiet Hour Tips
It works like this: everyone goes to their own quiet spot, be it their room or another designated area. (Two of my children shared a room so the younger boy got the bedroom and his older brother got a corner of the living room.)

Each child stays in his or her area for the entire hour. No excuses. No interruptions for another drink of water. No sudden trips to the necessary room (unless of course someone’s sick).

people-106556__180They need to stay quiet in their quiet space. This way everyone can rest—including you, Mom and Dad.

We all need a break from one another no matter how much we love each other. Introverted children may crave this alone time. Extroverted children may resist, but they all need it.

Children can read, color, play quietly, or take a nap. So can you.sleeping-1311784__180

Oh, how I treasured The Quiet Hour during those long hot days. I hope you do, too. It just might be the best mini-vacation you take all summer.

Day Trips – Bring Books to Life through a Mini-Vacation
Another benefit of books is to use them as a springboard for a short day trip. Here’s an example Little.House.BKSof what I mean. We read through the entire Little House series in one year. The series is a good illustration of this idea because Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories took place in six different states. Plus there are museums in each state. One may even be near you. The city/state links below will take you to those museum pages.
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder birthplace, Pepin, Wisconsin
Little House on the Prairie, Montgomery County, Kansas
On the Banks of Plum Creek, Walnut Grove, Minnesota
Stars to visit Walnut Grove:
Charlotte Stewart, “Miss Beadle” visits July 9-10, 2016 (THIS weekend)
William Anderson, Laura Ingalls Wilder author also visits July 9-10
Karen Grassle, “Ma” visits July 16-17, 2016
By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, and Little Town on the Prairie,
all took place in or near De Smet, South Dakota
Almonzo Wilder’s boyhood home described in Farmer Boy, Malone, New York
Almonzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home, Mansfield, Missouri

Day Trip Tips
Choose a local author or a book that takes place in your area to use as a springboard for your day trip.

Again, your librarian may be able to help you with a list of local authors. Or perhaps point you in the right direction. You could also search online for a list in your state. Many authors have web pages or fan pages.

Classic books by deceased authors may work best for day trips because museums have often been created in their honor. Not many living authors have their own museums—although, it’s possible.

Local history can also provide you with a day trip idea, too. Choose a book and read about it before you go. You can even have a scavenger hunt for some of the things you’ve read about.violin-1136992__180

For instance, one of the museums dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder has Pa’s fiddle. Since that fiddle featured so prominently in the Little House books it was definitely on my scavenger list. I could picture Pa playing on that very same fiddle while the girls danced or him playing a tune to help his children sleep.

Read-alouds are a good memory my adult children and I share. They found those inter-active museums intriguing, too. Plus, now that they have young children of their own, they can’t wait for The Quiet Hour.

So what can a book do for you this summer? What are some of your favorite childhood books? Which authors will be on your list? What day trips can you take within a few hours of your home?

Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. You may be the blessing other parents need.

Since there are still two months of summer left for most of us, I hope you find these Stay-Cation ideas helpful. Be gentle with yourself—things don’t have to be perfect. May your days be full of joy and some quiet, too. Remember, you’re sowing memories.

Until next time…Travel Light,
©2016 SuZan Klassen

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