When I reflect on my childhood, much of it is filled with the stories I read. I spent hours of my daily routine reading for fun, building lifelong relationships with characters that were very real to me. My love for reading played an immeasurable role in creating who I am as an adult. Therefore, it is very important to me that my children learn a deep love of reading. Traveling regularly is intended to be a lifestyle choice, not a one time fluke for this family. Therefore, I needed to find ways to bring the basics of learning to read on the road.
This is harder than you might think. When you are learning to read, you typically have lots of age-appropriate options. This is part of the motivation to read. Traveling with books is not easy. They are essentially dead weight, and those pounds add up very quickly. Along the way, we have found ways to make books readily available for our children without relying entirely on electronic reading.
Learning to Read
I packed a few books with me when we set out on this first long, overseas trip. The complete box set of early readers by Usborne has been invaluable to us. The stories are catchy, progress with their ability, and are short enough for mom. There are two books per reading level included in the box set, so there is plenty of room for improvement and practice. This box set keeps giving by supplying an accompanying alphabet poster, as well as numerous activities in the back of each book.
Fairy tales are a large part of childhood, but also a lot of paper to carry around. I chose to pack the works of the Brothers Grimm in our luggage. A beautifully bound book containing 20 fairy tales played perfectly into our travel curriculum because we spent lots of time in Germany. Our 6-year-old is not reading these stories yet by any means, but it allowed for some diversity in our stories. The books also aided a great deal in learning about German folklore, storytelling, printing presses, German history, and geography.
Local Reading Resources
On our travels through Greece, we found an English used bookstore! We scored some great finds there that aided in our reading journey. We have also happened upon some English children’s books in local libraries in both Mexico and Greece. These libraries made for pleasant surprises full of encouraging words. As you meet people abroad you may also want to ask if they have any acquaintances that might have English children’s books. Most countries require English as a second language. It is very likely that someone has some books they would happily let you borrow.
Programs that Aid in Reading
Don’t forget those awesome military-related resources! One of the resources available to as a family-connection effort is United Through Reading. Through this program, my husband was able to read a book on video, and then the books and recordings were sent to the kids. We are able to read along with dad, or just enjoy the illusion of his presence. Following along while someone else reads aloud is a great way to work on learning to read. Obviously, you could do this for your own children with any family members you like. It became a highlight of our week and could be done with any books you already own or something found at a thrift store.
The only app that our family uses is called Epic books. It has been an essential tool in Lux’s reading development this year, as it has a plethora of reading options as well as a particular reading series that I highly promote. Red Rocket Readers by Pam Holden is a series of small books that progresses from letter identification to chapter books. They are excellent. They are just long enough that Lux is tired and challenged by the end, but not obnoxiously so. These books can be purchased in classroom kits, via Amazon, and some of them can be found on the Epic books app, so we had access via the app for all of our reading needs.
Extra Reading Tools
One of the tools for learning to read we packed was called sight-word rods. They are little wooden rods with letters on them that can be changed to spell different words — very simple, three letter, words. It’s such an easy concept, but a wonderful tool in that they quickly learn through play. Children are able to build immense amounts of confidence going into reading pages.
We are new to ABC Mouse, but in a short amount of time (one week of consistent use), I noticed a huge improvement in Lux’s reading. Linking the learning games of any kind is very important, and ABC Mouse does a wonderful job of that.
Another great idea is using the things around you to practice reading. When traveling, our largest volumes of reading material are on the side of the road and spread out across our laps at lunch. Map reading and sign reading are easy ways to expose your child to numerous subjects and experiences without forcing their hand to do so. If they take their navigational responsibilities seriously enough, they will quickly begin reading the smaller items on the map. Of course, this is also a great way to get them involved in the decision making and planning portions of traveling as well.
Reading on the Road
There are times when it is easier to put things on the shelf for a while. Reading is no different. Because of my love for reading, I was very pushy, very early on. We have taken a step back from reading many times. When your child is ready, it will click. It is our job to lay the path for learning that they will eventually do on their own. Do not let your fears of your child’s progression, in whatever curriculum you use, stop you from sharing them with the world. Book and paper school work can happen anywhere at any time. How amazing would it be to read Anne of Green Gables while standing at her home on Prince Edward Island or to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn along the banks of the Mississippi River? Let the world be your classroom.
Photo Credits: Pixabay