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Many of my fellow homeschoolers are thinking about traveling in the coming weeks. With school children going back to school – as well as most adults beginning the New Year with a clean slate of no vacation, January is often a great time for homeschoolers to travel with much less traffic than during regular school holidays.
The question always arises: What will we do along the way? Whether traveling in the car, by plane, or train, children can take a break from technology with a real book — or maybe use technology to your advantage and turn on an audiobook for the whole family!
But where to start?
Whether thinking about what books to add to your own, or your child’s reading list, there are so many books, and lists, to consult. Many times we’ve just gone into the library and chosen something off the shelf, but for directed reading – that’s challenging as it is thought provoking, finding a reading list is where it’s at.
Enter MENSA Reading list
The MENSA Excellence in Reading program. Anyone, at any age, can participate. Simply print off the list and as you read, note the date, rate it, and as you complete each ‘age’ section, simply mail it in to MENSA who will then send you a T-Shirt and Certificate of Completion!
As we begin to prepare for this active season of travel, or perhaps a quiet season at home, our family finds reading alone, and together, to be a fantastic family activity. We can cuddle on the couch, or stretch out separately, but engaging in stories is a favorite pastime.
As my friend began asking for solicitations for books from one of our homeschool groups for her 7-9 year old reader, she was looking specifically for audiobooks. Many of these stories can be found by amazing readers on audiobook. Pop it in your car, or stream it through the library, and bam! You’ve got classics, documentary, and novelty all at your beckon call.
A note on audiobooks:
I wasn’t always a fan. I much preferred to read my books the old-fashioned way: by opening them up. I also preferred to listen to music in the car. I didn’t want my last bastion of freedom to be inundated with children’s paraphernalia. It already was, but mostly in the back seat. I was trying to hold onto my own youth by continuing to enjoy what I wanted — but quickly found my love of books, coupled with that of my boys, was found in audiobooks. I preferred to alternate between books the boys wanted to listen to, with books from our MENSA Reading list.
Fantastic books in the K-3 list we borrowed from our local library include:
NOTE: We borrowed these from our wonderful public libraries – which also have audiobooks available online for free download – but if you’d like to own your own copies, links are provided to Amazon!
Of course, some books were not availabile on audiobook — and particularly with this list of books, are actually picture books best read together, immersing yourself in the imagery.
Others simply were not available on audiobook, but we were able to borrow hardback copies from our public library — both of which had lovely illustrations.
We owned a good deal of the picture books, and I had read several over the years, but I was astounded by the many new-to-me books. Millions of Cats became a family favorite when my boys were young….we often use the title, which is repeated throughout the story, as an inside joke with regard to cats. The Cricket in Times Square was an unexpected lovely story about friendship, family, and love. Others like Mr. Poppers Penguins and The Tales of Desperaux we were able to follow-up with watching the movie afterwards (Mr. Poppers Penguins Movie and The Tales of Desperaux Movie) — as well as fun activities, like penguin art and sword making respectively.
Of course, themed trips are fun — and you could search and sort accompanying activities to pair with your books, but we find a book, or an audiobook, a fresh notebook or sketch pad, and a box of crayons, colored pencils (& sharpener!), or (*GASP!*) thin-line sharpies, are the best, open-ended, directed activities we could have.
Of course, snacks, rest breaks, and stretching of legs in nature are always good to incorporate into any trip….not just a good book! Or camera!
How do you tame the travel with children?