Q: We're taking an August road trip with our 7-, 9- and 11-year-old boys. The backseat DVD player is broken. We'll leave it that way to encourage reading. What books might make the miles fly by?
A: Do your children have favorite authors who have written a series? If not, go to your local library or bookstore and test-drive some for kids in this age range.
"Librarians know what's popular and are experts in helping young readers find books that connect to their personal interests," says Blanche Warner, head librarian at Naples (New York) Library.
Series are a good choice because "once a child is hooked on one title, he or she will plow through the rest because they know the backstory. Following a protagonist though each book is like spending time with a good friend," says Warner. "The 'Harry Potter' and 'Lemony Snicket' books are tried and true examples. Chances are your children already have an author they want more of."
Two laugh-out-loud, perennially popular series are Lincoln Peirce's "Big Nate" (HarperCollins and Andrews McMeel Universal) and Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Amulet Books).
Bill Doyle's "Magic for Hire" series (Random House) is about Henry and Keats, two boys who take on kooky monsters. Titles include "Attack of the Shark-Headed Zombie," "Stampede of the Supermarket Slugs" and "Invasion of the Junkyard Hog." It's great for reluctant readers. The first book in Doyle's new series about a family that enters wacky contests, "The Prizewinners of Piedmont Place" (Random House), debuts next month.
Science writer Sandra Markle's lushly illustrated "What If You Had?" nonfiction series (Scholastic) introduces animal characteristics by challenging kids to imagine what it would be like if their own ears, teeth and hair were replaced by those of a different animal.
In a description for "What If You Had Animal Teeth?" on Scholastic.com, it says, "this book explores how different teeth are especially adapted for an animal's survival. ... Children will discover why their own teeth are just right for them. And they'll also get a friendly reminder to take good care of their teeth, because they're the only teeth they'll ever have."
Another suggestion is to pack some "quick reads offering bite-size nuggets of awesome info that can sop up the time between putting in your order and getting the pizza," suggests Naples Library's Warner. Consider titles such as "The World Almanac for Kids," "Time For Kids Almanac," "National Geographic Kids Almanac," "Guinness World Records" and "Ripley's Believe It or Not! Special Edition 2016."
Consider the flashcard-format "Fandex Family Field Guides" and "Brain Quest" series from Workman Publishing. These colorful Q-and-A cards with lots of fun facts hang together with a metal rivet, so they don't spill out of the car when you stop for gas. Fandex topics range from "Birds" to "50 States" to "Star Wars." The "Brain Quest America" series includes 850 Q and A's "celebrating our history, people and culture."
For more information, go to workman.com.
(Do you have a question about your child's education? Email it to Leanna@aplusadvice.com. Leanna Landsmann is an education writer who began her career as a classroom teacher. She has served on education commissions, visited classrooms in 49 states to observe best practices, and founded Principal for a Day in New York City.)