Make Reading Fun with Local Family Field Trips!

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Welcome to part two in our three-part series on easy, research-based ways to incorporate reading and writing into your summer schedule through 1) movies!, 2) easy family field trips, and 3) naturally engaging writing experiences.

We talked about using movies to enliven summer reading in our previous post, and in this article, we’re going to talk about summer literary adventures! We’ve paired some favorite reads for preschoolers through teens with local summer events and attractions. Just check out a book, read it together, and then bring literature to life through the matching activity.

Ages: 3-8
Theme: Critters!

The Literature:

  • Backyard Detective: Critters Up Close by Nic Bishop. Discover the creepy crawlies that live in your own backyard.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Meet the famous caterpillar who “eats” his way through this children’s classic.
  • Anansi the Spider: A Tale From the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott. Enjoy this Caldecott-honored retelling of a West African tale.

The Adventure:
Go on a nature walk! Walk through the woods at a local park with your child, looking for bugs, lizards and other wild critters. Or, better yet, check out a local nature center, like the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, Georgia, which has wildlife displays and many natural animal habitats to explore! For information, visit

Ages: 4-10
Theme: Roller coasters!

The Literature:

  • Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee. This charming picture book details the play-by-play experience of a little girl who rides a roller coaster for the very first time.

The Adventure:
Look for local listings for carnivals or amusement parks, like Six Flags over Georgia. Visit or call 770-739-3400 for tickets and information. (Six Flags, by the way, has a Thomas the Tank Engine interactive area for younger kiddos, including a journey on a replica Thomas!)

Ages: 8-12
Theme: The Civil War
The Literature:

  • Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. This poignant story portrays the impact of the war on two young boys who become unlikely friends. (War themes are best suited for mature children.)

The Adventure:
Well, this adventure may be easiest to achieve if you live in the South, where Civil War sites abound. Check out Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park: the battle site where General Sherman’s march toward Atlanta was delayed for two weeks by the Confederates entrenched along Kennesaw Mountain’s ridge tops. The park features a museum, hiking trails and ample picnic spots. Open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Call 770-427-4686 or visit

No battle sites near you? Reenact a battle with squirt guns in the backyard!

Ages: 8-14
Theme: Ghosts!

The Literature:

  • Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn. This can’t-put-it-down chapter book is more historical fiction fantasy than ghost story. Great for kids who don’t like super scary but do like intrigue and suspense.

The Adventures:
Have a family camp-out in the backyard! Pitch a tent, pop some popcorn, get out the flashlights and tell fun (appropriate) ghost stories!
Or, for Atlanta residents, check out the Ghosts of Marietta lantern-led walking tour. Walk the streets of historic Marietta while enjoying a compelling blend of storytelling, history and the supernatural. The 90-minute tour is under one mile. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Reservations are recommended. Call 770-881-8011 or visit

The titles featured in this article can be checked out from your local public library, found at a local bookstore, or purchased online. Happy reading!

Coming next in the series: Make writing fun with authentic summer projects!

Post author: Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.


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