Yes, you can “travel by book” with your children and grandchildren. “Marvin K. Mooney, just go,” says Dr. Seuss. No, it does not matter how you go – “by broomstick, by Camel in a Bureau Drawer, Bumble-Boat, by Ga-Zoom”.
What is important is that you go and take your young children. In this day of COVID it is difficult to expose children to other people and cultures visually. It can be done when you “travel by book”.
Reason #1 for “travel by book”: “Pictures speak louder than words.” As you read about my travels to the rainforest look at the photos and see if you may have a better memory of an animal from the photo or from my comment on the photo.
Reason #2 for “travel by book”: Using picture books will facilitate greater reading comprehension as children learn to read. The learning progression: learn an object name, associate picture to the object, discuss object. When reading is taught the brain will be more likely to remember the sentence/paragraph that was read if the student has the visual knowledge to apply to the written.
Reason #3 for “travel by book”: Storybook reading facilitates emotional growth from the pleasant association of the reading experience with the adult. This will later translate to experiencing emotions through chapter books and novels.
On with the “travel by book” experiment: What makes the greatest impression, the statement or the photo.
Our trip took us slowly down the Amazon in Peru. The habitat is warm all year and produces some of the best food. Furthermore, it is a habitat in which some of the most unusual and beautiful animals thrive.
There are about 1200 small islands in the Amazon river. One of these islands, Monkey Island (La Isla de Los Monos), is dedicated to the preservation of all the different monkeys in Peru.
On our travel by boat (instead of travel by book) we were lucky to experience the villages of the native Indians, Ribereños. They are called Ribereños because they fish and work on the river. We saw many people in their small canoes and fishing boats. They fish for piranha and many other fish. The piranhas are not dangerous. We know that because we fished and caught some and then ate them.
Traveling slowly down the Amazon we saw many fruits that the Indians produce and sell at market in the city of Iquitos. The Indians grow rice, bananas, papayas, coconut, orchids for vanilla, cocono (like a tree tomato that they use to make a breakfast juice), manioc (similar to a potato because it is a root plant), guava, mango, oranges, cacao (for making chocolate), coffee beans and many other fruits and plants.
Along the shore of the Amazon we saw many young children playing and working. Providing your children with “travel by book” selections will teach them how the Ribereños children and other children learn to work with their parents. They may be out fishing or picking bananas to eat for the next week. From the time the boys can walk they learn to swim and canoe down the Amazon.
The girls spend much of their summer vacation learning to cook, wash clothes and help look after their younger brothers and sisters.
Some children will only see these people of the Amazon in “travel by books”. As we approached a small village the people came out to greet us and invited us to visit the school building. Children were not in school at this time, but they showed us their one-room school. Some of the village children sat in the schoolhouse and answered questions and posed for pictures. The students study religion, language, math, reading and writing. For lunch they eat crackers, milk, rice, and fish.
In your “travel by book” with your children they will experience the same animals as the Ribereños children. They see monkeys, snakes, jaguars, spiders, lizards, frogs, toucans, parrots, macaws, sloths and hundreds of other insects and animals. Again, I hope the photos inspire you to teach your children about other cultures, animals, and environment through “travel by books.”
Happy “Travel by books” suggestions (just a few of the many on the market):
El Gran Capoquero: I like this book for a couple of reasons. The animals convince the wood cutter via a dream to NOT cut down the capo tree that is so essential to their lives. The rainforest scenes are colorfully illustrated. This book is in Spanish so can be helpful for those students learning Spanish.
Can A Toucan Hoot Too?: There are three things I love about this book. One is the Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) contributed actual photos of animals. The second asset to this book is that is has black and white coloring pages. The third asset is that this book introduces and reinforces young children’s knowledge of two important pre-reading skills – rhyming and animal sounds. This book also has a workbook that can be accessed at www.slpstorytellers.com if you are a subscriber. If you are not a subscriber, you can subscribe by clicking here.
Galapagos Rules! Postcards from Poppies: This book also has actual photos with explanations on the animals’ habitats and habits. A plus to this book is that the book talks about some of the rules for protecting the animals of the Galapagos.
Rainforest Animals for Kids: Wild Habitats Facts, Photos and Fun/ Children’s Environment Books Edition: This book is also loaded with colorful pictures and facts on the rainforest animals and habitat.
Sloths Are Slow: This is an excellent book to introduce the /s/ sound to young children. The best asset to this book is that the story encourages interaction between the reader and the child. The images of the sloth are memorable.
“Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” said the Sloth: This classic is also excellent for the introduction and repetition of the /s/ sound.
Over in the Jungle: This is one of my favorites for the lush illustrations with the animals and introducing young children to rhyming (another important pre-reading skill).