Books to encourage summer play


Add these books to your summer reading list. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
June 11, 2012

It’s summertime! No more math tests! No more big heavy book bags! No more sitting in the classroom and looking longingly at the sun shining outside the window! You have long, lazy days stretched out in front of you, the kind of days that beg for hours and hours of good old plain fun. Need a little help getting started on that kind of fun? Here are some great books to inspire you.

Fun outside games

Before the Internet, before “The Legend of Zelda” and before Nickelodeon, there were fun and easy games for kids to play outside. The book Go Out and Play! (from KaBoom, $11.99, for ages 5 and up) highlights dozens of them. You probably already know some of the games, like Hide and Seek and Duck, Duck, Goose, but have you ever heard of Blindman’s Bluff or Blob? They’re two different ways to play tag.

If tag isn’t your thing, the book also includes team games, ballgames, circle games, sidewalk games and race games. Most of the games don’t require many materials, just a few friends and a fun attitude!

Fun rainy-day activities

A rainy day doesn’t have to be a boring one, especially with “ The Flying Machine Book by Bobby Mercer, $14.95, for ages 9 and up. It provides step-by-step instructions, with photos, on how to make rockets, helicopters, little planes and even boomerangs. (A boomerang is something you throw that comes back to you.)

The book starts with a basic rocket you create with a straw, a rubber band and a card, but the machines get a little more complex as the book goes on. Make a Grape Bazooka in 11 steps with strong paper, a plastic bottle cap, two rubber bands, a paper towel tube and duct tape. (You’ll need a stapler and scissors for many of the projects.) Then see how far you can launch little balls of tape. (Save the grapes to launch outside!)

Fun on road trips

Chances are your summer will include a road trip or two. A lot of hours in the car can be a little boring. Make them fun for you and your family with Just Joking(from National Geographic Kids, $6.95, for ages 7 and up). It’s a little book full of jokes, tongue twisters and riddles. How fast can you say “Cooks cook cupcakes quickly,” three times?

If you’re taking a long road trip, you might want to know where you’re going. Have your Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Altas (from National Geographic Kids, $5.99, for ages 8 and up) handy. Pick a state and learn a few things, some serious and some not so serious. (Did you know that some farmers in Vermont feed their pigs ice cream?) The book includes maps and five cool things to do in each state. In the back of the book, you can find games and true-or-false questions about famous U.S. places. (Go ahead, test your mom and dad!)

— Moira E. McLaughlin

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