In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vacation reading

Dear Aunt Debbie,

We are happily ensconced in the North Woods of Wisconsin, where we go on summer vacation with Jeff’s parents for a week each summer.  This time, we’re taking a few extra days in the Midwest on the back end, which means that when it came time to pack a few days ago, I was packing for two weeks.  Clothes – no problem.  A little bit of something for every kind of weather, and you do laundry once or twice.  Toys can be whittled down: two stuffed animals each, plus a favorite doll and a few small prizes to be stashed away in bags.  But books are another story.

It is hard to pack books for a two-week vacation with kids this age.  Isabel wants her picture books, of course.  There are the board books: sturdy, but dense and heavy, and all very short, so you whiz right through reading them.  Then there are the picture books with regular pages (the ones whose pages Isabel has been tearing up), which are longer and take more time to read, but are also often large and flat.  It’s a complicated calculus: which books will bear quite so many repeated rereadings?  Which books have the best pictures for detail-hunting?  Which books will keep the girls occupied on their own in the back of the car?

It’s a little easier to pack for Eleanor – a couple of good chapter books, along with a very few favorite picture books, will take us through the time.  And then of course there are the art supplies: the sticker books for the plane, the colored pencils, and markers, and pads of paper.  Not to mention the books Jeff and I brought along....

I packed books in my backpack, in the toy/book/snack tote bag I brought on the plane, and a few more in my suitcase for good measure.  Here’s how it adds up:

And the closeup (with credit to Rachel at Even in Australia for the pile-of-books photo idea):
You’ll recognize most of these titles, I’m sure.  Many are books I’ve written about here already, and a few others are favorites I’m sure I’ll be writing about soon. 

Meanwhile, if you or our readers have any advice on how to pack lighter, I’m all ears.

Love, Annie


  1. This is why I love my Kindle. I know it's no good for picture/activity books, but it cuts way down on the chapter book/grown-up book bulk!

  2. It sounds like you need an iPad, to be honest. There are tons of free picture books on it, as well as classics you can buy pretty cheaply. It can also double as an activity book, or a drawing pad. Of course, it's not the same as physical books, but it's pretty damn good.