7 Books to Help Beat the Summer Slide

Contributed by Carson Mischel

Summer is just around the corner—time for vacations, ice cream sandwiches, running through sprinklers and reading a bunch of books!

Research has shown that children lose 1-3 months of learning over the summer depending on variables such as grade level and family income. It is crucial that children continue to learn and practice skills, particularly math and reading, over the summer months to prevent this “summer slide.” Fortunately, your local public library is full of fantastic books to explore over the summer and most libraries offer free summer reading programs that will help you set reading goals for your family.

Begin by making a family goal to set aside 30 minutes each day for reading. If your child is not reading on their own yet, read to them. Summer is also a perfect time for audio books! Stock up on audio books to listen to together while on your summer road trip. There are plenty of titles that both you and your children will enjoy, I promise.

Here is a list of books to get you and your child started on your Summer Slide Prevention Tool Kit:

1. True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
By: Kathi Appelt
Grades 3-7

Bingo and J’miah, two raccoon brothers, are excited and proud to be the newest scouts for the infamous Sugar Man- a giant creature who rules the swamp. When Jaeger Stitch, the world-famous alligator wrestler, decides to build a theme park on top of the swamp it is up to Bingo and J’miah to save the swamp by waking the Sugar Man—a difficult task considering the Sugar Man has been asleep for 40 years!

2. Gone Crazy in Alabama
By: Rita Williams-Garcia
Grades 3-7

This funny and touching story follows the Gaither sisters as they travel from their home in Brooklyn to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, in rural Alabama. As the oldest sister, Delphine, spends more time talking with her family, secrets are revealed about their family’s rocky history and it takes a near tragedy to bring them all back together again.

3. Tangle of Knots
By: Lisa Graff
Grades 3-7

This story takes place in a sometimes magical world where everyone has a special Talent. Cady, an 11-year old orphan, finds early on that her Talent is for baking spectacularly, enviable cakes. Through a series of parallel stories, the mystery of where Cady came from and how she is connected with everyone else in town, is slowly unraveled.

4. The Lightning Queen
By: Laura Resau
Grades 3-6

This is the story about 11-year old Teo growing up in 1950s rural Mexico. Teo and his family live a predictably dull life on top of the Hill of Dust until one day Esma and her family of travelers bring a traveling cinema to their town. Esma and Teo form an unlikely friendship and her enthusiasm and exuberant personality brings color and light to Teo’s life. Will Esma and Teo be able to hang on to their friendship when everything and everyone is trying to pull them apart?

5. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
By: Chris Grabenstein
Grades 3-7

Luigi Lemoncello, the world’s most famous and mysterious game maker, is designing the town’s new public library. Kyle, a huge fan of Mr. Lemoncello’s and all games in general, is chosen as one of twelve children invited to spend the night in the brand-new library. Mr. Lemoncello has filled the library with challenging puzzles and riddles that the children have to solve in order to escape! It’s down to the wire, will the children succeed in beating the game or will they be trapped forever?

6. Alvin Ho
By: Lenore Look
Grades 1-4

In this sixth book in the series, Alvin, a second grader who is afraid of EVERYTHING, is going to visit his family in China. Traveling to another country opens up a whole new world of things to be terrified of including airplanes, acupuncture, new foods, and huge crowds of people. This is a fun and humorous series of books that is also very warm and touching at times.

7. Fake Mustache
By: Tom Angleberger
Grades 3-6

In this laugh-out-loud story, seventh grader Lenny Flem Jr. is the only thing standing between his evil genius best friend Casper and world domination. Casper, who uses hypnosis and disguise to rob banks is now using his huge fortune to run for president. Will Lenny, an unlikely hero, be able to stop Casper before it is too late?

Check out more of our favorite reads below!

Reading List: National Poetry Month

A Grandparents Day Reading List for Kids!

Carson is a children’s librarian in Beaverton, Oregon with a master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences.  Carson grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and moved to Oregon with her sister just over ten years ago. Books and reading have always played an important role in Carson’s life and she is grateful to have the opportunity to teach others to love books as well.


Transportation Around the World

Contributed by Lara Takenaga 

Children love trains, planes and boats, whether it’s watching them speed by, or having the chance to take a ride! It’s also fun to learn about how people around the world get from point A to point B.  From underground trains to motorcycles, the options are as diverse as the countries they come from. Here’s a look at five unique rides.

The London Underground, Great Britain

The oldest metro system in the world, the London Underground serves the U.K.’s capital, as well as several surrounding counties. Nicknamed the “Tube,” it has 11 lines which carried a record 1.3 billion passengers last year! To ride the Underground, “top up ” an Oyster card and then tap it on a card reader when you enter a station. When you arrive at your destination, tapping again will deduct the fare based on how far you traveled .

Tuk-Tuks, Cambodia
Hail a tuk-tuk (also called a remorque) in Cambodia! In the capital of Phnom Penh, these two-wheeled carriages pulled by motorized scooters (motos) can be found everywhere and are  inexpensive, that is if you know how to haggle! Tuk-tuks can take you anywhere in the city and are also popular in Siem Reap, where the Angkor Wat temple complex is located.

Rickshaws, India
Auto-rickshaws are the easiest way to travel short distances in India’s cities. Typically less expensive than taxis and better at navigating crowded roads, the small three-wheeled vehicles vary in design but usually no doors or windows for easy in-out access. Sit back and enjoy the breeze as your driver expertly dodges traffic!

Dala Dalas, Tanzania
Tanzanians came up with dala dalas to meet a demand for public transit services. These minibuses follow set routes but will pick up and drop off people anywhere along the way. In addition to the driver, there’s a conductor who signals when the van is leaving and collects the passengers’ fares. Dala dala rides are often crowded, bumpy and hot — but taking one is a great way to experience local life!

Scenic Railway, Australia

The Scenic Railway–the steepest incline railway in the world–lives up to its name, offering beautiful views of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. The glass-roofed carriages descend 310 meters to the rain forest floor where you can explore the Jurassic surroundings. See any dinosaurs?!

There are so many fun and interesting ways to get to your destination! What’s your favorite?

Explore more about the world below!

4 Great European Cities for Families!

3 Simple Ways to Inspire a World Traveler!

Contributed by travel writer Lara Takenaga. Based in New York, she is a freelance writer and editor who likes to speak français whenever she can, plan new adventures, and eat her way through city streets.


Insect Craft for Kids!

Contributed by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Did you know we share the Earth with more than one million different species of insects? In the ant world alone there are over 11,000 varieties! In fact, scientists say that nine out of every ten animals in this world is an insect. And, they can be found in nearly all habitats and environments.

Whether large – like the South American longhorn beetle, or small – like the flea, all insects share some common characteristics.

They each have an exoskeleton, which means their skeletons are on the outside of their bodies with the soft parts inside. Because of this, they molt or shed as they grow.

Insects have two antennae and three pairs of jointed legs (making them arthropods). Many have wings at some stage of their lives and they all have three distinct body parts – a head (at the front), a thorax (in the middle) and an abdomen (at the end).

A fun way to teach your kids about these three body parts is to have them craft a few insects using a variety of found objects.


Googly eyes
Glue (white craft glue or hot glue, with adult assistance)
Pipe cleaner (optional)
Scrap paper (optional)
Some of each of the following: pompoms, buttons, beads, pebbles, craft gems, stickers, felt shapes, etc.

Step 1: Choose some objects to serve as the three body parts. We used pebbles, pompoms, buttons, beads, and gems.

Step 2: Children can select three items for each of their insects.

Step 3: Kids can glue their three items onto a wooden clothespin, thus creating a head, thorax and abdomen. Googly eyes can also be added.

Optional: For younger children, this may be enough, but for older kids, the embellishing can continue with the addition of paper wings, pipe cleaner legs and wire antennae.

Display your creepy-crawlies proudly!

Your child can learn more about insects with the Insects theme from our Early Explorers subscription:

Want more crafts to do with the kiddos? See below!

Northern Lights Activity for Kids!

DIY Tissue Paper Globe

Andrea Mulder-Slater is an artist and blogger who has been involved in teaching & writing about art for 20+ years. In addition to leading art classes at the elementary, secondary & post-secondary levels, she has worked as a curriculum designer & educational consultant on various art education projects. She is the co-founder of & writes The Art of Childhood blog for Erica Ehm’s Yummy Mummy Club. 


Mother’s Day Stained Glass Craft!

Contributed by Brandy Nelson

Nothing says “I love you” more than a handcrafted gift. With this easy 4-step craft you can jazz up any jar with a DIY stained glass effect using tissue paper and Mod Podge. Want bonus points? Include their favorite candy, sugar scrub or a votive candle inside for an extra treat!

The Beauty of Stained Glass

Stained glass has been an awe-inspiring art form since the middle ages. Traditionally found in the windows of churches, mosques and other significant buildings, these works of art are made from glass that has been colored with metallic salts. Some of the most remarkable stained glass masterpieces can be found in Europe. Here are a few famous examples from France to give you some inspiration!

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France.

Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France.


DIY “Stained Glass” Jars!

This is a quick and fun craft for little hands, and makes a lovely gift for mom! In just 4 easy steps, you can have a colored glass jar made out of Mod Podge and tissue paper that’s ready to be filled with her favorite goodies. Much less work than real stained glass, but beautiful nonetheless!


  • Tissue paper cut into shapes
  • Foam brush
  • Small jar
  • Mod Podge

Hint: You can use a baby food jar, small Mason jar, or even a vase! It will work on any glass surface.

Step 1: Brush a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the glass.

Step 2: Apply tissue paper shapes. Hint: work in small areas since the Mod Podge dries quickly.

Step 3: Once the jar surface is filled with tissue paper brush another layer over the top of the tissue paper. This seals the paper, strengthens it and makes it water resistant.

Step 4: Let dry completely. Enjoy!

Expert tip: I swapped out the regular lid on our jar for a chalkboard screw-on lid that I found in the $1 section at a local craft store.

Looking for more Mother’s Day fun? See below!

Happy Mother’s Day from Little Passports!

The Perfect Gift for Mother’s Day – a Paper Tulip Bouquet!

Brandy  is a California girl married to an Alaskan boy. They’ve lived all over the country, moving where the Coast Guard sends them, and are parents to 4 children (and a black lab puppy). Brandy has been surrounded by creative influences her entire life. Her biggest mentors being her mother and grandmother. When she grew up and started to have a family of her own, her desire to create blossomed as she turned each new house into a home. Her blog,, is a collection of some of her favorite kids activities, projects, recipes, and craft tutorials.


Introducing our Classroom Subscription!

Little Passports has made it easy for teachers to integrate a World Edition subscription into their curriculum. We are very excited to introduce the Classroom Subscription and digital Teacher Guides!

Calling All Teachers!

Your students can explore a new country together each month with their pen pals Sam & Sofia! Discover and discuss new cultures through monthly letters, souvenirs, activity pages and more. Our engaging materials reinforce geography, reading and problem-solving skills. Plus, our digital Teacher Guides will help you integrate each month’s lesson with 10+ pages of engagement activities, bonus content, vocabulary, pop quizzes and printables.

The Classroom Subscription includes:


  • * 6-Month World Edition subscription
  • * 30 individual passports
  • * 30 individual passport sticker sets
  • * Access to 6 digital teacher guides

Click here to learn more.

Take a closer look at our subscription materials and peek inside our Teacher Guides!

World Edition Subscription

Discover a new country each month with pen pals Sam & Sofia! Packages include letters, fun souvenirs, activity sheets, stickers, photos and more, plus access to the Boarding Zone for more online games.

It’s a fun way to learn about geography and cultures around the world, right from your classroom. Learn More.


Do your students know that the ancient Egyptian alphabet consisted of about 700 hieroglyphs? They’ll learn this and more with our Egypt Teacher Guide! Explore the ancient culture of Egypt with 9 suggested classroom activities, links to Nubian folk music, 18 new vocabulary words and more. Click here to see a sample.


Take a trip to France and visit Paris, where your students can build their own Eiffel Tower with marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. Not into architecture? Have your students attempt their own Impressionist drawings or paintings inspired by painters like Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro. Click here to see a sample.

Students will also explore Japan, Australia and Brazil! It’s the perfect classroom tool to get kids excited to learn about the world.

Click here to learn more about our Classroom Subscription and download the complete Teacher Guides here.