Once we find a routine, homeschoolers like to joke that “homeschooling” is a misnomer—most of us spend plenty of time in the car, too, from classes to activities to park days to field trips. We enjoy our car time—it’s a great excuse to pull out our beloved audiobook collection—but we also sometimes get bored shuttling back and forth or sitting in waiting areas or killing time between appointments. That’s when our backseat bookshelf comes in handy.
Your perfect backseat bookshelf depends on your family’s interest, but we’ve found that brainteasers and did-you-know fact books are the most entertaining for us. I keep five or six books tucked in the pocket behind the passenger seat, but some people store them in boxes, bins, or backpacks. The key is to choose a few and rotate them frequently—you want enough to feel like there’s a real selection but not so many that it’s a mess back there. I also keep a plastic bag full of writing materials, sticky notes, and small notebooks. My son added a magnifying glass and a calculator; my daughter popped in a pack of sparkly markers a few days ago.
Now when we’re stuck in traffic for way longer than we’d like or waiting for our friends to show up before we head into the museum, my kids automatically reach for one of their backseat books. I’m not saying that we look forward to the waiting parts of homeschool commuting, but we definitely don’t dread them.
Your challenge this week: Create a backseat library—or, if you’re lucky enough to be transit user, a bag library—to encourage critical thinking when you’re on the go.
Some of our favorite backseat library books
- The Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums : We loved The Mysterious Benedict Society, so it's no surprise that we couldn't resist this brainteaser of a book by the same author. Happily, these mind-bending puzzles live up to our expectations.
- Doodlepedia : The cool thing about this doodle book is that it's full of fascinating facts that really stick because kids actively participate in illustrating them.
- MindWare Grid Perplexors : We love these puzzles that let you use deductive logic within a simple grid to chart clues and eliminate wrong options.
- NG Kids Ultimate Weird but True: 1,000 Wild & Wacky Facts and Photos : Wacky facts and the awesome photography you expect from National Geographic make this book one that my kids will read over and over again.
- One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! : Science is a favorite subject in our homeschool, so we've really enjoyed these mysteries designed to be solved with scientific knowledge.
- Mindware Extreme Dot to Dots Animals : The incredibly intricate dot-to-dot pictures in this book are great for when you need a little quiet. Kids have to focus pretty intently to solve these challenging puzzles.
- What Is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles : These awesomely entertaining conundrums are fun all by themselves, but they're also a nice low-key introduction to Godel's Incompleteness Theorems.
- Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School : I loved these silly books back in the day, so I'm not-so-secretly thrilled that my kids are hooked on them, too.
- Gallery Ghost: Find the Ghost Who Paints the Most! : This surprisingly engaging mystery book is also a practical introduction to great artists.