You never quite appreciate what you have till it’s gone, right? Think of all those free summer afternoons you had as a kid — all that time to just read. Turns out you don’t get that as an adult. Faced with grim realities, we at EBYR are trying to make do, trying to find ways to read with the time we do have. We’re sharing what we plan to read — and sometimes where and how — in our Summer Reading Series.

Today’s post comes from Rachel Bomberger.

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By the time you read this, my family and I will be driving through the middle of Nebraska on our annual summer pilgrimage to visit grandparents to Oregon.

There will be whining. There will be fidgeting. My ears will be ringing with “She’s touching me!” and “Are we there yet?” It probably won’t smell very nice.

(▲The idyllic family road trip that no one ever had▲)

But then, there will also be books.

Thank heaven for the books.

When Ahna first described her #SummerReadTrip challenge, it all sounded so idyllic to me. It still does, the way she talks about them.

For me, though, a #SummerReadTrip is less about idylls and more about sheer, gritty survival. Two thousand miles. Thirty hours broken up over three days. Four children.

Without our trusty basket of books, we’d all go mad.

Here’s some of what we’re taking:

(Oregon) Trail Mix

Something about heading out west also inspires fresh curiosity in us about the Oregon Trail. Could it be the wide open plains we pass through in Nebraska? The majestic pronghorn running alongside us in Wyoming? The staggering rock formations in Utah? The dust and the flies . . . everywhere? Who can say?

By Wehwalt, via Wikimedia CommonsAt any rate, Oregon Trail histories do come in very handy on a trek like this. At the first whimper of complaint, I simply and sweetly encourage whoever’s whining to compare their lot to that of the cross-country emigrants:

  • “Aren’t you glad we only have to be on the road for three days, instead of three months?”
  • “Aren’t you glad you get to ride the whole way, instead of walking barefoot across the rocks and rattlesnakes?”
  • “Aren’t you glad we get to buy hamburgers at McDonald’s tonight, instead of cooking rancid salt pork over buffalo chips?”
  • “Aren’t you glad none of us has dysentery?”

I love road trips. Don’t you?

For the kids, I’ve acquired a new illustrated guide, Daily Life in a Covered Wagon.

As for me, I’ll be reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods (wrong trail, I know, but still . . ) and — if I can ever manage to get my hands on a copy — Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail. Perhaps the indie bookstore in the town we’ll be visiting can hook me up?

Epic Quiet Times

Last summer, it was D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths and National Geographic’s Everything Ancient Egypt that had them captivated. This year, we’re trying a different variation on the same theme, with a primeval Mesopotamian epic (Geraldine McCoughrean’s Gilgamesh the Hero) and a child-friendly collection of Christian hagiography (Ruth Sanderson’s Saints: Lives and Illuminations).

Gilgamesh the Hero
Gilgamesh the Hero

Call me delusional if you like, but I’m counting on these meaty and heavily illustrated little volumes to buy me at least a few minutes of quiet time along the way.

Family Read-Alouds

One of my favorite ways to pass the time on a long road trip is to read aloud to my family.

I love the magic of family togetherness . . . the opportunity to expose them to great (or at least great-to-me) literature . . . the captive audience . . . that special feeling of hoarseness in my throat that comes from reading for three hours straight, made worse by the seat belt digging into my neck as I turn awkwardly sideways to make sure everyone in the back can hear me. It’s all good.

Last year, I read them selections from George MacDonald and Richard Peck’s A Long Way from Chicago. Super fun.

This year, we’ll be revisiting Richard Peck (one of my kidlit heroes) with The Teacher’s Funeral and adding in Kate DiCamillo’s The Fantastic Journey of Edward Tulane, which I read earlier this year and have been dying to share with my husband and kids ever since.


Because eyestrain and hoarse throats are both very real dangers for me on a trip like this, we’re also packing audiobooks.

If we happen burn through all of the above, plus the extra titles I’m fully expecting my kids to smuggle on board but am too embarrassed to mention here (*cough* Pokemon), PLUS the complete series of Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and How to Train Your Dragon on audiobook before we arrive at our destination, well, let’s face it . . . we’re toast.

Wish me luck on my #summerreadtrip — and keep your eyes peeled for more Eerdfolk summer reading lists to come over the next couple of weeks.