My love of reading must be attributed to the read-aloud time spent as a child with my parents. Before bed, at restaurants, in the car, on a plane… Basically anytime we had some downtime, a book appeared and we would read aloud as a family. Because of this, I reached out to some homeschooling parents to find out if they’ve read books with their children that have inspired them to field-trip to destinations for real-world learning.
Holling Books & The Great Lakes, USA
Anjanette from Yellow House on the Last Frontier:
It’s not that we never do independent geography lessons on things like state capitals and world continents in our home; we do. However, in geography, like most every other subject, there’s nothing like a story to make information stick. First-hand experiences provide the best stories – because we live those! Well-written books are a lovely substitute for all of the places the limits of our earthly time keep out of reach.
Holling Clancy Holling books have been the cornerstone of our geography studies. They incorporate history, local cultures, and science in compelling tales with gorgeous detailed illustrations. My children are 11, 8, 6, and 3, which means I’m on my third read-through of the Holling book we use in first grade – Paddle to the Sea. It’s the story of a toy wooden canoe carved by an Indigenous Canadian boy and released into a stream during the Spring thaw. The canoe (and the figurine carved into it) takes an epic journey through the Great Lakes and all the way out to sea. My children love tracing the route on a map, carving small canoes from soap or wood, and spending time daydreaming about what it would be like to see the Great Lakes from a tiny toy’s perspective. I know that when we get the opportunity to visit the places in Holling’s books these stories will instantly come back to us and inform our experiences, making them richer.
Our California & Road Tripping
Kirsty from World for a Girl:
A few years ago, we spent 2 months traveling around California with our two young children. Right at the start of the trip, we found this awesome book ‘Our California’ in a bookshop in LA. This book became a second guidebook, a destination planner and a memory maker for our son. Pam Munoz Ryan’s rhyming words and Rafael Lopez’s gorgeously colourful illustrations take readers on a visual journey around some of California’s travel highlights. Our son loved the kid-friendly map at the beginning so he was able to retrace our travels with his toy cars.
As parents, ‘Our California’ enabled us to involve our son in planning our journey around California. More importantly for us, owning a copy of the book has helped us relive our travels and talk to him about our experiences in California. As our son is older now when we read it we are able to explore more of the history sections at the back of the book which explains in more detail the significance of each town and city featured. We enjoyed it so much that we even bought his sister who was a baby at the time a board book called ‘Goodnight California’ so that she could be involved in learning about our travels too.
Paddington Bear Books & London, England
Joss from Little Green Globetrotter:
My husband and I are both originally from London, and spent the first 25-ish years of our lives living there. Our son, however, has never lived in London and, though we took shorter trips with him prior to our departure, we left the U.K. permanently to begin our world-schooling journey when he was 18 months. Now age 3, he is a big fan of the Paddington Bear books.
We talk about England a lot, our family and friends are there, and it’s important that both he and his younger brother (due next week!) know about their family and cultural history, the context in which their parents were raised and the nuances that make us a British family despite having been out of the U.K. for some time now. Michael Bond’s stories are full of the places, history and British-isms that we grew up apart of and they are proving a wonderful aide in introducing some of London’s highlights to our son and sparking an interest in the city we once called ‘home’.
I can’t wait to take both boys back to London, to be a tourist in my own city, and to witness London through the eyes of two small children seeing it for the first time!
Currently based in New Zealand, Joss demonstrates that family travel can be sustainable, adventurous and educational. Follow their eco worldschooling adventure and discover their approach to homeschooling a 3 year old while embarking on long-term travel on Facebook and Instagram.
[Read more about visiting the Paddington Bear statue in London here.]
Thank you to these busy homeschooling mums for sharing these family reads and fun destinations with us! I hope they’ve inspired you to spend some quality read-aloud time with family and then to get out and see the world! And check out their websites for more ideas about homeschooling & family travel.
Do you read aloud with your child? Pet? Partner? Have you planned a vacation around a book you’ve read with someone else? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Daniel Cornwall says
Just wondering why you focused on homeschooling parents in particular. Nice roundup of useful geography aids.
A Suitcase Full of Books says
Daniel, I was curious if homeschool parents used destinations to supplement their literature schooling. Which is not quite the same thing as parents with children doing standard schooling using their summer vacations.