There is something about being surrounded by a foreign language that makes you crave something in English. Anything will do - a newspaper, a Facebook post, a menu - but most especially, a book.
I was fortunate to tag along with my husband on a nearly three week long trip to Italy this month. He had speeches on the European Union to deliver. I had a Kindle full of novels and a stack of magazines I’ve been meaning to get to for months.
In less than a week, I ran out of things to read.
My Italian is limited to greeting strangers and ordering wine. I was drawn to the news stands – all in Italian. I watched the cooking shows – all in Italian. After about a week, I was hungry for English language anything. I was starved for English - perhaps because it was so scarce. According to the Harvard Business Review, success belongs to those who create something scarce. I got to thinking: will this sense of scarcity work on kids?
Overseas travel is one of the more expensive reading tips, but if you have such an adventure planned with your kids, use it to your advantage. Tablets are cheap and the public library has a vast selection of e-books available for download for free.
Before you leave town, load up the tablet with a variety of books:
- fiction and non-fiction set in the country you will be visiting
- a foreign language phrase book designed for kids
- books you’d like your kid to read
- fun books – the kid version of a beach read
- include at least one all-time favorite – a book your kid has read a hundred times or more. There is something comforting about having something familiar and predictable to turn to when moving around in a place that is both unfamiliar and unpredictable.
Need some suggestions? The New York Public Library has a terrific list of book suggestions for overseas travel.
One more tip: pack a few paperback books as well. There’s likely to be a family fight to use the adaptor to recharge everybody’s electronics, so there will be times when that tablet runs out of power.