The best family activity books

Who am I?

I love playing with my kids. When my eldest was eight and we were sitting on the porch together he said, “On my last day of being playful, I want to play with you the whole day. I sure hope it’s on a Saturday.” My kids know that I turn most things into a game, that I’ll screech and stop for a tarantula on the road because it’s educational, that I'll get them to sing their quiz answers, and that I’ll sculpt a cake into almost anything for a school project. I believe learning should be fun, so we would drink lemonade out of measuring cups, guess how many hops from the bed to the closet, and have Whipped Cream Spray Wars every summer (outside, thank you). I also think families would spend more time together if they had a great collection of cool—and easy—stuff to do together. As a writer I’m creative, and never run out of fun ideas. Why not share them with the world?


I wrote...

Family Funbook

By Joni Hilton,

Book cover of Family Funbook

What is my book about?

I’ve always involved my four kids in short activities to get them to hurry along—they never wanted to miss “project time.” It was so fun that it grew until my friends begged me to compile my ideas into a book. Well, two books, actually (the other one is called Five Minute Miracles: 373 Quick Daily Projects for You and Your Kids to Share). If you want quality family time, and wish you had an easy manual of ideas, you have come to the right mom! These just use items you already have around the house, and you’ll love the laughs and closeness they’ll build. Oh—and definitely snap photos.

The books I picked & why

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Astronomy Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Activities

By Michelle Nichols,

Book cover of Astronomy Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Activities

Why this book?

I love science and this book specializes in astronomy. Nichols helps kids get excited about the night sky, planets, and much more. She shows them how to make their own telescope and uses a microwave and a chocolate bar to teach them about the speed of light. A great dip into a wonderful topic.

Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

By Mark Frauenfelder,

Book cover of Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

Why this book?

I like this father-daughter book, especially because it includes topics not always emphasized for girls: computer programming, hand tools, and problem-solving technology. But it’s also creative and uses affordable supplies. Maker Fairs are sweeping the planet and kids are discovering that geekiness is actually cool.

The Travel Activity Book

By DK Publishing,

Book cover of The Travel Activity Book

Why this book?

Traveling is a time when you often need to entertain a bored child on a train, plane, or in a car. This book has tons of great games, puzzles, stickers, and even cultural information that will educate your child. Lots of photography and illustrations to entertain, as well. A good mix of education and fun.

Try Not to Laugh Challenge Camping Joke Book: for Kids!

By Howling Moon Books, C.S. Adams,

Book cover of Try Not to Laugh Challenge Camping Joke Book: for Kids!

Why this book?

This is the book that’ll definitely get ‘em laughing. I like the idea of camping at home—in your living room or in your back yard—as well as in the wilderness. And this book is fun to bring along. Camping and nature-themed riddles, silly jokes, games, and lots of interactive laughs. Good for all ages, too.

Social Skills for Kids: From Making Friends and Problem-Solving to Self-Control and Communication

By Keri K. Powers,

Book cover of Social Skills for Kids: From Making Friends and Problem-Solving to Self-Control and Communication

Why this book?

Even tiny kids get glued to their game screens, without being connected to the internet yet. And older kids are even more addicted. We've all heard how dependent kids are on "likes" and how depressed they get if their life doesn't compare with what they see online. This means we have an entire generation of kids who spend waaay too much time on the computer. They haven't developed as many social skills as they're going to need. And this book addresses it. Children will feel more confident at school and in any social setting. I'd love to see manners and etiquette lessons come back-- here's a start!


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