Take a book on the road By Judy Belanger

Summer is here and the time is right for vacations, beaches, road trips and reading. So pack the suitcases, gather the kids and donÕt forget an armload of books to keep everyone entertained on those long drives. When my children were young, we had several games we played in the car--and still do with the grandchildren. One favorite was, "My grandfather owns a grocery store and in it he sells. ..." Each player, in turn, gives the initial letter of the alphabet for the item being sold. It is amazing how even the little ones can come up with really good ideas using only the beginning sounds. Another game involves looking at road signs to spot letters in alphabetical order. Many childrenÕs books are now recorded on tape, and with a visit to the library before your trip, you can check out many hours of enjoyable listening. Even books that are too hard for a child to read can be appreciated on tape. Keep in mind that the new Harry Potter book will be out on June 21, just in time for summer enjoyment. Here are some books to kick off your summer travel.

THE LITTLE GIANT BOOK OF TRAVEL GAMES, by Sheila Anne Barry, illustrated by Jeff Sinclair, Sterling Publishing Co., $6.95; ages 6 and up. This small paperback wonÕt take up much space in any suitcase. The book is divided into 10 chapters and has a key to let you know which activities work best for traveling. Others can be used while waiting in restaurants. The chapter entitled "On The Road" includes great activities such as suggestions for games using license plates and categories to use when playing car lotto. Another chapter includes paper-and-pencil games. A piece of graph paper works very well for Travel Battleship, a game that helps children learn to locate named squares on a grid. I like the chapter on songs. There are fun songs besides "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," which can get on oneÕs nerves. "You CanÕt get to Heaven" is one of my favorites from camping days and allows children to make up their own verses as they go along. Another camp song is "The Ants go Marching." But it would have been helpful if the music for the songs had been included. Keep this book handy for many hours of fun and enjoyment. The Little Giant Book of Card Games is also available from the same publisher.

ON THE WAY TO THE BEACH, by Henry Cole, Greenwillow Books, $15.99; ages 4-8. Sometime during a vacation you need quiet time to just sit and look around at whatever you can find. Cole shows four areas: woods, marsh, dunes and beach. In each of the double-folded pages, the reader searches to find the creatures listed for each area. The last page shows each picture with the creatures numbered to help you find them in case there were some you didnÕt recognize. But this book isnÕt only for traveling. Children can use it to look for and list the creatures they see or hear in their own backyard.

ROCK-A-BABY BAND, by Kate McMullan, illustrated by Janie Bynum, Little Brown and Co., $15.95; ages 3-6. Even little ones can have their own CD to take along on vacation. The CD is included and follows along with the words in the book. Ten children with different instruments are featured through the story, although only Charlotte and Denny are named. The children shake, rattle, spin and turn until they eventually get worn out from all their activity. It is the only song on the CD and fun to sing along with. Children can also do their own shaking of noise makers as they sing along. This book and CD can be a fun way to introduce rhythm and music to little ones.

ODDBALL ILLINOIS: A GUIDE TO SOME REALLY STRANGE PLACES, by Jerome Pohlen, Chicago Review Press, $12.95; ages 10 and up. Not every town can boast about an eight-car pile up called "The Spindle" at their local shopping mall, but then maybe they have other odd features you might want to investigate. This book lists the locations of many famous, as well as not so famous but still interesting, people and places throughout Illinois. The book is divided into chapters by areas with a big section for Chicago and the suburbs. Also included are interesting and unusual places to eat. The book is indexed by site name as well as by cities where attractions can be found. Let children plan an excursion based around what in the book sounds interesting to them. Is there something listed for your town? Should there be something listed for your town? The author includes an address where you can write to him and let him know if you find something of interest that he missed and should be included in an updated book. As for The Spindle, itÕs on display in the parking lot of a mall at Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road in Berwyn.

THE AUNTS GO MARCHING, by Maurie J. Manning, Boyds Mills Press, $15.95; ages 2-6. The play on words caught my attention. If you are going to sing about ants, you might as well sing about aunts as well. A little girl plays her drum and the aunts go marching in the rain, in their raincoats. Older children will enjoy the word play and understand the multiplying of the aunts. I wish the sheet music would have been included.

SING-ALONG STORIES: MISS MARY MACK, by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Wescott, Little, Brown and Co., $5.99; ages 3-6. If you like to sing in the car, Mary Mack is a good book to take along. This book is one from a series of seven. The author has included music for the song as well as instructions for the hand clapping game that goes with it. I have seen children older than 6 doing the hand clapping game at recess. It is fun to watch them teach the chant to the little ones. That is how many of these songs have been passed on over the years. I am glad to see some of them appearing in print, especially when they include the music and other related activities.


Judy Belanger is a retired elementary Learning Resource Center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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