It’s summer! We all know what that means: long, lazy days filled with some pretty fantastic seasonal activities, such as reading, swimming, sports, camping, and…car trips? Uh-oh.
For many of us, summer is also a time to visit folks we haven’t seen in a while, and that can mean some extensive – and potentially boring – travelling. For others, though, a change of scenery can come as a welcome break. Regardless of which camp you fall into, these travel books should help you and your children while away some fun summer hours.
The Airport Book by Lisa Brown
Ages 4 – 7
Our narrator for this story is a young boy who is travelling via airplane with his parents and younger sister. He describes, in simple and amusing language, details such as waiting in line and other situations travelers might experience in an airport. Close perusal of the illustrations shows other passengers, and readers can follow those story lines through the book, too. For example, one subplot involves the boy’s younger sister’s beloved stuffed monkey as it voyages with the luggage. Excellent for travel aficionados, first time flyers, and anyone who likes poring over illustrations. Sure fire win!
The Flying Hand of Marco B. by Richard Leiter
Ages 4 - 7
A family errand turns into an epic adventure for Marco when the wind rushing by the car’s window proves to be irresistibly tempting. He sticks his hand out the window, and his hand starts flying in the wind. His mom tells him to pull his hand in, but that doesn’t last for long, and, before you know it, Marco’s pulled right out of the car by the wind and goes flying all over the place – including outer space! Happily, he lands safely back in the car before anyone notices. An excellent story for any imaginative kid who knows how to spice up a potentially boring car ride.
Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat
Ages 4 – 8
The plot of this story centers on the dreaded car-ride question in the title. A boy is so bored on the trip to his grandma’s house that time must be slowing down…and then it starts going backward! Past the Wild West, Ancient Egypt, the Jurassic period, and more, pretty soon the boy is having so much fun that time speeds up to compensate. Who knows when they’ll show up next? Each illustration in this clever story is jam packed with amusing details, and, when time starts going backwards, the reader must flip the book upside down and flip the pages backwards, as if the book were going back in time, too. Endlessly clever, it might just be the trick to get a restless child through their next car trip.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Ages 8 – 12
Salamanca “Sal” Tree Hiddle and her free-spirited grandparents are on an important road trip to see Sal’s mother, who recently left her family. As they make their way from Ohio to Idaho, Sal entertains her grandparents with the story of her school friend, Phoebe Winterbottom, whose mother mysteriously disappeared after being the target of vague messages and odd encounters with a mysterious stranger. As the story of Phoebe’s mother unfolds, Sal begins to reminisce about her own mother and the bond they shared before she left. Often humorous, yet at times melancholy, this coming-of-age story highlights the complex relationship between mothers and their children in a way that will certainly touch the hearts of readers. (review by Miss Taylor)
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Ages 8 – 12
Oh no! A long car trip to a family reunion and back, stuck in a van with both of your younger siblings – that sounds like a recipe for a tedious summer. In this excellent graphic memoir companion to her award-winning book Smile, Raina Telgemier recalls a particularly trying adolescent memory: it’s the summer before she starts high school, her parents have been bickering, and she has to go to a family reunion full of people she hasn’t seen in ten years, dealing with her attitudinal little sister every mile of the way. For anyone who has ever had a sibling (of any gender), each panel of this clever book is steeped in humorous authenticity. Excellent reading for all ages, and required reading for middle-school road trips, we suggest you give this one a try!
The Slowest Book Ever by April Pulley Sayre
Ages 8 – 12
This amusing paean to slow things encourages readers to take their time and think 'chewy thoughts.' It includes sections regarding slow nature, geology, outer space, arts, and more, and the writing mixes fascinating facts with deep, thoughtful questions. Great for browsing or starting conversations, hand this book to anyone who needs to do some car trip daydreaming, enjoys trivia, or likes to fit some reading between other activities.