Homeschool,  Roadtrip

the armchair guidebook reader

I’ve been checking travel guides out of the library. I love the thorough, encyclopedic nature of them. I love the way you can flip around, end up in a new Arizona city, and to read it about for a paragraph. I love the way I can read a concise page when I catch a few moments on the couch by myself.

I love the bright blue boxes offset from the rest of the text, summarizing a deeper topic. I love the way guidebooks feel parental, like shepherds. Concerned, but chipper.

In browsing a printed and bound travel guidebook, there is none of the urgency a magazine or newspaper travel feature, none of the Go Do This Now! that feels wildly inappropriate to COVID 2020.

There is only the pleasant wave of knowledge about places I’ve never been.

national parks scratch-off map, on Etsy

Speaking of travel dreaming, eventual or unexpected, let’s not forget about this opportunity: free entrance to National Parks to 4th graders and their accompanying adults.

There is a family in our homeschool co-op who brought their chocolate brown vests with junior ranger buttons to a show-and-tell morning recently. These vests were bedazzled, fairly dripping, with park buttons. The gentle click as the crowded buttons bumped against each other seemed to breathe shared memories and experiences. It was truly something to behold. My children left inspired, perhaps even more so than me!

Having a fourth grader in house as we do, we plan to take advantage of this wonderful national program, at least a bit this year. Due to the extraordinarily odd school year students had last year, for 2020-2021 the pass has been extended to the families of 5th graders as well. Find out more and print off your family pass right here.


    • Rachael

      I’ve been reading Lonely Planet guides and I have been impressed by the amount of things included “for kids.” I always thought they were targeted toward college-age-individuals.

  • Taylor Norris

    Wow. I’ve definitely perused travel guides for fun at book stores, but never have checked them out from the library. Genius. It sounds just right.

  • Emily L Hindman

    Love this! I just discovered Stranger’s Guides ( and ordered the National Parks edition after you inspired me with this post! Looking forward to curling up with it next week!

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