By Michaela O’Callaghan, Rosie Burgoyne, Laura Jones and Joanne Boustead
Throughout lockdown, parents were eager to buy activity books to keep their little ones occupied. Colouring books, journals and puzzle books were saviours to many parents during multiple lockdowns and school closures. With travel uncertainty and COVID-19 anxieties, the term ‘staycation’, which is when people have holidays filled with special moments and fun activities all while staying at home, has become well-known. This issue, we are taking a look at some of the best new and upcoming activity books to keep children busy and happy over the summer break.
Draw With Rob
If there is any activity book series that epitomises children’s literature success through the pandemic, it is this one. #DrawWithRob became an overnight sensation on YouTube as children learned how to draw some of Rob’s loveable characters found in his picture books. HarperCollins Children’s soon capitalised on this internet success with a Draw With Rob activity book by Rob Biddulph. The first book is a Sunday Times number one bestseller and was shortlisted for the Children’s Illustrated & Non-Fiction Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2021. The following two activity books (Draw With Rob at Christmas and Draw With Rob: Build a Story) are also bestsellers.
It comes as no surprise that Rob Biddulph has recently published another book titled Draw With Rob: Monster Madness, which was published on 22 July. This series provides perfect stay-at-home fun and is packed full of puzzles and art techniques.
For children who love nature and the outdoors, we recommend a new arrival from Usborne, the Planet Earth Activity Book by Sam Baer and Lizzie Cope, where your child can explore the wonders of the Amazon rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and so much more! There is also a chapter dedicated to saving the planet. With information on clean energy and what your child can do to help the Earth, this activity book is perfect for kids who are environmentally conscious and want to make a difference.
The Great British Staycation Activity Book
Who says you can’t travel whilst staying at home? The Great British Staycation Activity Book by Rachel Dixon and Claire Saunders was published 13 July, just in time for the summer holidays. Complete with bite-sized facts, The Great British Staycation tours Britain with a colourful array of puzzles, quizzes and crosswords. Castles and landmarks across the country are brought to life by Ms. Livi Gosling, whose beautiful illustrations populate the book. Destinations include, but are not limited to, the Peak District, Cornwall, the Highlands and Yorkshire.
With an array of gardens, parks and countryside locations to choose from, a staycation is likely to see you exploring some of the country's areas of outstanding national beauty, which are often supported by the National Trust. Working in partnership with Nosy Crow, the National Trust offers a collection of beautiful books to delight and inspire young minds. With the Look What I Found series by Moira Butterfield, young readers can explore a range of environments from the woods to the sea. Containing beautiful illustrations by Jesús Verona, children can delight at finding items on the page before embarking on their own adventure to find seashells on the beach or different types of trees in the forest. Look What I Found at the Seaside was released in June 2021.
But why limit staycations to holidays, especially with active children looking for a new adventure every week? In October 2021, a delightful title, National Trust: Sunday Funday: A Nature Activity for Every Weekend of the Year by Katherine Halligan and Jesús Verona is due to be released. As the title suggests, every Sunday can be a fun day with this gorgeous collection of activities. Containing a mixture of art projects and physical activities, this book is divided across the four seasons, making it the perfect partner for staycations all year round.
With the idea of a staycation becoming increasingly popular this year, it is important to show our children that we can have fun and enjoy ourselves no matter where we choose to go on holiday. Activity books are a great way to encourage children to interact with and learn new things about the world, particularly when visiting a new place. We hope these recommendations will not only limit the number of “Are we there yet?” shouts from the backseat, but also bring plenty of joy to children and keep their imaginations active over the summer.