Summer camp is hugely fun for kids, yes! But the first day of camp can be intimidating. Especially if it’s a child’s first time at camp or if they are starting somewhere new. Kids can be anxious about going to camp without friends and, at times, even with. Some worry that camp will be boring. Some say they’d just rather stay home in front of the TV or game system (but really, have you ever done exactly that for an entire day? It’s not that fun).
Kids of all kinds can even feel on the fence about summer camp for no discernible reason at all. But never fear, there are thousands of stories out there to inspire and excite even the most persistent homebodies! After the first day most campers are super excited to return. So don’t worry too much, books can allay first-day jitters until summer camp itself works its magic, then all will be well.
Stories about overcoming anxiety, going on adventures, making and keeping friends, and other childhood challenges are all good options for kids who are nervous about going to camp. For those who have that part down, developing interest in the subject matter of a particular camp session can increase enthusiasm. Whether you read aloud to your child, play the audio book version or leave a paperback lying in an inconspicuous location for them to find on their own, summer reading is always good for kids. Here are some favorite books with Camp EDMO™ themes for children of different ages, as recommended by Common Sense Media:
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel (age 4+) is filled with adventures friends can have together, along with examples of how to be a kind and respectful friend. This one can inspire and inform kids to make new friends at camp, and also encourage adventure. If you’ve ever heard, “but I don’t want to go outside!” this book is for you and yours.
My New Friend is so Fun by Mo Willems (age 4+) tells what happens when one of besties Gerald and Piggy makes a new friend. Great strategies for sharing friends at camp and meeting new ones, that are presented in a fun and friendly way. Easy to understand and hilarious, this book gives valuable advice to kids and adults of all ages.
Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson (age 4+) is the story of a very curious boy growing up in mid-century America, to become a world renowned scientist and author. Packed with lots of kid-friendly science, this can inspire anyone to embark on a similar path to discover more about the cosmos.
Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark and April Chu (age 5+) is a beautifully illustrated biography of the 19th century woman inventor and mathematician who became the world’s first computer programmer. An excellent introduction for girls and boys alike to the origins of technology, this book even engages adults.
Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (age 6+) is an adventure that relies on science to save the day! This easy chapter book is great for encouraging kids to follow their curiosity and figure out how things work. It’s part of a series perfect for budding engineers, scientists and architects who just can’t stop themselves from constantly experimenting with everything. Excellent inspiration for STEAM Camp!
Galaxy’s Most Wanted, Book 1 by John Kloepfer and Nick Edwards (age 8+) is a graphic novel about kids at “the best STEM camp in America” whose invention inadvertently summons an alien. Funny and filled with “amusing fake-science,” this one celebrates the idea of STEM more than the actual fields themselves. But that’s ok, this book can get kids excited about taking a wild ride to invent their wildest dreams!
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (age 8+) is one of few books actually written about day camp. This graphic novel addresses growing up, as Astrid attends roller derby camp the summer after 5th grade. Lots of lessons about friendship, determination, being a team player and sportsmanship. This is a great book for kids transitioning into middle school, especially if they are or want to be part of a team.
Spy Camp (Spy School Book 2) by Stuart Gibbs (age 10+) is a mystery novel sure to inspire kids to be interested in real spy and forensics themed camps. Kids going to day camp might be happy they don’t have to survive wilderness survival training like this book’s star, Ben Ripley. Lots of action and explosions to keep kids who gravitate toward science shows like Mythbusters interested.