At Choreography by Rae, we read books to kids ages 4-6 five days a week during Storytime Adventures.
Our kids love reading about animal adventures in the forests, but being a global class it came as no surprise that many of our kids had never been camping. Growing up my camping trips were few and far between: a Girl Scout trip that I was invited on even though I wasn’t a Girl Scout, 6th grade science sleepaway camp, and a camp counselor stint in High School. I think that equals 3 maybe 4 times that I’ve donned a sleeping bag and slept under the stars. My spouse on the other hand has less than fun memories of being the Boy Scouts, trying to start a fire and eating raw food. Pretty sure the food wasn’t supposed to be raw. It’s the lack of experience in camping which makes this books so awesome.
Jennifer K. Mann does a great job showing how the “idea” of camping can be different from the reality and that different is okay. Every kiddo in our class could relate to having a home made forte of some sort (blankets, connecting sticks, magna tiles) and the process of building a homemade forte is a breeze compared to setting up a real tent in the woods. Our main character Ernestine quickly learns that the many adventures that nature holds aren’t that different from things she would do living in the city.
Lessons to Share
1) Try something new.
Kids can be resistant to trying new foods, a new teacher, and even being the first person to “go” in Simon Says. As Ernestine tries new things, she discovers that many of those new things aren’t as bad as she thought they might. She even discovers a few that she loves! Like eating S’mores.
2) It’s okay to be different.
As a vegan, I’m no stranger to the weird looks you get when someone dines with you and learns that you don’t eat meat. I always warn guests that I’m cooking for what’s on the menu, and I do wonder if Aunt Jackie gave Ernestine a heads up about mealtime, but honestly Ernestine is a kid and probably either forgot how Aunt Jackie cooks or never paid attention. Either way, I was tickled to see cousin Samantha announce that “tofu dogs” are her favorite. I remember giving Tofu dogs to my own niece when she was a kid.
The difference in eating is handled wonderfully in The Camping Trip. No long explanations or justifications, just a simple, this is dinner and this is different.
Also bonus points for hearing one our kids shout, “I love tofu dogs!”
3) It’s okay to be afraid.
Let’s face it, when kids get afraid, most grown ups are quick to soothe those fears. As a teacher, I deal with navigating kid fears daily. I like that Aunt Jackie doesn’t go into a long conversation with Ernestine on how she’s feeling. Instead Aunt Jackie invites the kids to take a moment to look at the stars. This allows Ernestine to navigate her own emotions and find her own grounding. Aunt Jackie is a pretty smart cookie.
I also like that cousin Samantha offers to hold hands when jumping in the water together. Because let’s face it, somethings feel less scary when you know you have a partner.
4) It’s okay to miss our loved ones.
Ernestine quickly learns that just because she’s not with Daddy, doesn’t mean that she is loved any less.
Representation Shout Out!
- This book features an African American family
- Veganism/ Vegetarianism is mentioned without pushing an agenda
- We never see 2 parents together. This can mean many things or nothing at all. It’s a wonderful way to show that every family is different.
This is an honest review from a book lover and educator. I do not make commission off of the sale of this book. Be sure to check your local bookstore or your local library for a copy. Libby is an amazing App that connects to many libraries throughout the U.S.A.