Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
Picture the following two travel scenarios:
In the first scene, we are observing a family of five – with children ages 14, 11, and 7. They are visiting Philadelphia for a family reunion and want to take advantage of being a tourist as well. On this particular day, they are visiting the Betsy Ross House. The 14-year old is wearing her Walkman and has headphones over her ears. She is listening to music, trailing behind her family, disinterested in participating. The 11-year old is curious, but the tour guide is rambling on and quickly loses the attention of the 11-year old who knew very little of Betsy Ross before arriving here today. The 7-year old tugs on dad’s sweater because he is ready to move on to the next room. Mom and dad are frustrated because they are not getting a lot out of the tour due to their children’s distractions. They are questioning whether they should have even come in the first place.
In the next scene, we have the same family, but this time – there are some differences that will contribute to the overall experience of the family. Prior to arriving in Philadelphia, the parents began talking to their children about the city and the history that is there. They discovered that their youngest son was most interested in the Revolutionary War. Their 11-year old had many questions about Betsy Ross and the controversy as to whether or not she actually made the first flag. The parents created an itinerary that appealed to the whole family and balanced their tourist stops with listening & learning opportunities and experiencing & learning stops. They also picked restaurants and snack places that had good food but also offered another look into Philadelphia and its rich history.
Are you curious what made the difference in these two scenarios? No, the second family did not leave the 14-year old at home. Instead, they purchased the Planet Explorers Philadelphia guidebook. While geared toward the older children in their home, the book turned out to be beneficial for the whole family.
Written by Laura Schaefer, author of The Teashop Girls and The Secret Ingredient, the Planet Explorers series was created when a Library Director told Ms. Schaefer about frequent requests for children’s travel guides. The Planet Explorers series has tapped into a niche that has remained unfulfilled – until now. Planet Explorer Guidebooks are written as e-books, and there are so many things I like about them.
1. Planet Explorer Guidebooks are easy to read! They are packed with historical facts, places to visit, dining suggestions, and fun trivia. For each point of interest, there are numbered facts that can be quickly skimmed or read in depth.
2. The book is easy to “carry” around. There are several reading formats to choose from when purchasing your book. It can be loaded onto your phone, Kindle, or laptop computer. It can also be printed from a PDF. The easy accessibility allows your pre-teen to carry it around on her phone and refer to it throughout your trip.
3. It’s affordable. At just under three dollars, this book is certainly worth it! Readers will definitely get more than a few bucks worth of information. It costs so little to stimulate your children’s curiosity, and that – as the commercials often tell us - is priceless.
4. The Planet Explorers series is multi-functional. The guidebooks can be used for family vacations, but they can also be used for homeschool curriculums, teaching your children about your hometown, or for a class report.
5. They appeal to our older children and tween-aged children who become empowered with information about the city they will be visiting. Reading the book ahead of time, may cause your older child to suggest a tourist stop that sounds interesting. You may observe the older children educating your younger children about the sites you are visiting. And, finally, throughout the books, there are hyperlinks allowing your children to have access to more in depth information about a particular topic. In Planet Explorers Philadelphia, for example, in the section describing The National Constitution Center, there is a hyperlink to learn more about the US Constitution.
I see only two weaknesses of the Planet Explorer series. In the Planet Explorers Walt Disney World guidebook that I had a chance to review – it stated that one particular ride was “currently closed for updating”. I do not know if the theme park guidebooks are updated on a consistent basis to keep readers properly informed on rides that are closed.
The second drawback that I hope continues to be “improved” is that there are only a handful of Planet Explorers books. Currently, guidebooks exist for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and the Disney Cruise Line. Hopefully, there will be many more available to us in the near future!
I am delighted to have been introduced to the Planet Explorers series of travel guidebooks for children. I would recommend purchasing these books for travel planning, peeking the curiosity of your children before and during travel, and just for pure educational purposes. They are so affordable; you can purchase them for pleasure reading.
I received a review copy of these e-books free of charge.
You can purchase these books on Amazon: