Everyone loves vacation, but it’s those long stretches in the car, on the plane, in the airport, and even waiting in line that parents and impatient kids can do without. Sure, technology can help, but when you know it’s time for the kids to unplug, check out these activity and travel-themed books. They’ll keep kids’ hands, minds, and bodies occupied while allowing you to engage with them on a variety of subjects, all throughout your trip.
by Kathleen Yale; illustrated by Kaley McKean (Storey Publishing, 2018)
No matter where you travel, your kids up to age nine will be inspired to howl like a wolf, slide like a penguin, and squeeze like an octopus while they learn about 15 different animals. When the little ones get tired of waiting or walking, encourage them to engage in dramatic play by acting like the animals they learned about in the book.
by Roger Priddy (Priddy Books, April 16, 2019)
Learn about the United States while developing observation, memory, and fine motor skills through travel-themed word searches, mazes, and other activities for ages four to seven. The easy-to-lay-flat spiral binding and pages on which you can wipe marks away make it reusable and practical for long stints on the road. Also available: Wipe Clean Vacation Time Activities.
by Bill Doyle; illustrated by Sarah Sax (Random House Children’s Books, March 2019)
The first in the Escape This Book! series, readers ages eight to 12 can choose to be one of three main characters, then doodle, decide, and demolish their way out of great events from history, as they decide the best path for survival. It’s a combination of Choose Your Own Adventure and I Survived! books, plus a doodle book.
by La ZOO (Downtown Bookworks, 2018)
Kids age three and up can transform scribbles and lines into a wide variety of artwork, based on guidance and creations from the well-known Japanese artist, La ZOO. Decorate the sails of a sailboat, draw hair on faces, and more. Also available: I Can Do That! Cut and Paste.
by Eddie Reynolds and Darren Stobbart; illustrated by Petra Baan; designed by Emily Barden (Usborne Publishing, 2018)
Design your own roller coaster, sketch a city, program a robot, and learn how machines work in this book packed with detailed STEM activities, for kids age eight and up. The many new experiences of travel will give your kids even more ideas to dream up and create when there’s down time. Also available: Science Scribble Book.
by DK Children (DK Publishing, 2018)
Teach children ages two to five about different destinations, monuments, and cultures around the world, while having fun with stickers, games, and puzzles. Includes a combination of illustrations and photography throughout.
by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco; illustrated by Joy Ang (Workman Publishing, 2018)
Discover 100 of the world’s most interesting places and mysterious wonders in a beautifully illustrated hardcover book that is bound to hold curious kids’ attention, from ages eight to 12. The book moves you from country to country to explore places like Antarctica’s Blood Falls, and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves of New Zealand, while sparking great conversations along the way.
by Jenipher Lyn (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018)
Encourage self-growth and creative expression among tween girls, through the journey of growing up. For creative girls who enjoy journaling and coloring, it’s a great option to keep them occupied on the road.
by Roger Price and Leonard Stern (Penguin Random House, 1987)
They’ve been around for more than a generation, but Mad Libs books are still a great way to communicate with one another and stay entertained, as you learn about sentence structure. Siblings and parents can take turns filling in silly nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech to complete stories that will have everyone in the family laughing. Check out Mad Libs apps, too.
by Mike Barfield (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018)
This book is packed with interesting things kids can punch out, fold, color, and draw, as well as facts about important scientists. Kids age five and up can craft a miniature kite, a spinning top, a musical slide whistle, and other creations to play with while away from home.