Friday, May 30, 2014

13 book tips from, and for, my traveling kids

Slowly but surely my family is gearing up to travel later in June. To-do-lists are right around the corner, the kids are wondering which stuffed animals they will be squashing into their hand-luggage this year, and this year for the first time, we are making plans for who will look after our dog while we're away.

Books are very important in my family, when we're traveling and when we're at home. These days, I don't leave home without several books for my kids and myself loaded on my Kindle. Here are some of the titles that my children have enjoyed lately, and some that I want to check out with them in the near future.

Load them on your e-reader or other electronic device, buy them as a paperback, or as a fancy hard-cover. There's just nothing like sharing a good story with your kids.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
Both my kids (7 and 11 years old now) really enjoyed Tolkien's classic tale about Bilbo Baggins and his adventures with Elves, Dwarves, and the dragon Smaug. The movie is everywhere these days, and I do love Peter Jackson's take on Middle-earth, but the original is still the best.

The Harry Potter-series, by J.K. Rowling
My daughter got absolutely hooked on the Harry Potter-universe, and we spent most of last year and the beginning of this year reading our way through Harry's quest to defeat Voldemort, and make it through school! The later books do get darker in tone, but the Potter-verse is a very captivating world for kids to explore.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum 
This classic is my son's favourite book. He loves the movie as well. Just a straight-up excellent read for kids and adults.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O'Brien
This is a wonderful tale about some very unusual rats, and how they end up helping mrs Frisby move house, and save her family. It was made into a Disney movie as well, but the book is much superior, at least in my opinion.

Comet in Moominland (and other Moomin-books) by Tove Jansson
Finland's Tove Jansson created a very special world in her stories about the Moomin-family and their life in Moomin-valley. I haven't read these books to my kids yet, but they received them as presents earlier this year, and I've been saving them for summer reading.

Adventure Time Comic Book, Volume 1
And I thought Spongbob was weird! If you haven't explored the strange, twisted, twisting, and absolutely unique world of the TV-show Adventure Time you are in for a treat (though you might just wonder if you're awake or dreaming!). It might not be for everyone, but my kids are in love with Finn and Jake, Princess Bubblegum, Gunther the evil penguin, the Ice King, Treetrunks, and the rest of the gang. (Yes, there's a reason our puppy was named Jake!). This cartoon-version was a hit with my son.

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
Another classic, and one that is a real joy to share with kids. My daughter especially loves "The Magician's Nephew", but the entire series makes for a wonderful reading experience.

Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, by Astrid Lindgren
This is a wonderful tale by Sweden's Astrid Lindgren, and my mother started reading it to the kids last summer. It's all about Ronja, who grows up in the wild woods, populated by robbers and strange, dangerous, as well as wonderful creatures. Lindgren is without a doubt the most popular author in Sweden, and her books are well worth exploring wherever you live in the world.

Why Do Horses Neigh? , by Joan Holub
Non-fiction books do have their place as well, and I find that the kids usually really like reading these kinds of books themselves. Both can now read, which is wonderful, and easy-to-read non-fiction makes for excellent practice. 

Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary
This book, written in 1955, is absolutely delightful and at times hilariously funny. Ramona is the quintessential trouble-making little sister, and Beezus is her suffering older sister. The stories about their trials and tribulations are so close to real life, and have a real ring of truth.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
This is yet another classic story that never, ever gets old. Wonderfully crazy, kooky and weird, it still holds up as a captivating and thoroughly entertaining fantasy-romp.

Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
My kids already loved Hayao Miyazaki's movie version of this story, but the books is a masterpiece in its own way. The story and characters are different than in Miyazaki's adaptation, but I think that the differences just makes the reading more interesting (my kids agreed). Sophie's adventures after she's cursed by the witch of the Waste, her encounter with the wizard Howl and the fire demon Calcifer make for a great story to read aloud.

Dr, Seuss-stories, by Dr. Seuss
Nobody rhymes things better than dr Seuss, and kids just really seem to love his quirky stories and characters. Great for new readers, and a lot of fun to read to the kids as well. I'm picking up one of the collections for my Kindle this year, though I haven't decided which one. I know my kids love The Sleep Book, The Lorax, Horton Hears A Who, The Sneetches, and many more of his classic stories.

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