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  • Rebecca P. Cohen

Family travel and Sneaky Summer Reading

In my experience as a mom, bridging the gap between end of the school year and the start of the next is much easier when kids are learning through play.

The outdoors is a natural teacher, and we know that play is serious work. In play, children are following their curiosity and imagination with self-guided learning in every moment. As we know, Summer is an amazing time for play.

What if kids had the ability to play in a book?

When my curious and imaginative five-year-old son transitioned from Montessori kindergarten to 1st grade public school, we were told that he was behind in reading. My heart sank. The recommendation was a reading program every Saturday over the summer, and learning through play was replaced with memorization of sight words. His love of reading went out the window.

There was one book he found that was the exception. One day in first grade, he came home and excitedly read to me a book from school that peaked his interest: Fun Outdoor Festivals Around the World.

He loved the outdoors, and he loved world geography from Montessori. I vowed to create a series of early reader books about the world that piqued the curiosity, imagination, and wonder of all children.

Enter PJ, the main character in PJ's Backyard Adventures, who travels the world in his imagination outside. The first book takes PJ to a very old city in the desert (Petra, Jordan) and a jungle near the beach (Osa Penninsula, Costa Rica). The second book takes PJ to the playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, France.

Now having published the first two PJ books and worked with over 6,000 children around the world, I can say that whether kids are playing in the park, traveling on vacation, or reading at bedtime, PJ resonates with children. On each page, a word is creatively hidden in each illustration that every child adores finding - it's like a game of hide and seek! In fact, there are eight different ways that children can play in PJ's Backyard Adventures, from coloring to tracing to decorating their favorite pajamas and learning the seven continents! There is something for every learner that engages them as they grow and change. Even before kids can read, children begin to tell the story of PJ, and then become their own storytellers and then storywriters of where their imagination takes them, just like PJ. PJ's Backyard Adventures appeals to a wide range of ages, from 2 to 8.

Cut out PJ and take him with you on your Summer adventures. Share your pics with the hashtag #WhereWillYouTakePJ

Wishing you memorable moments outside this Summer with PJ play,


About Rebecca P. Cohen

Rebecca P. Cohen believes time outside transforms our lives for the better. Rebecca has worked with over 6,000 children around the world helping them make outdoor connections for a healthier life.

Rebecca is author of 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids, the children's series PJ's Backyard Adventures, and creator of Rebecca Plants Curiosity Cards available for iPhone. She is also host of the video series, Get Out of the House, which shows fun ideas for time outside in every season. For Rebecca's inspiring blog and free downloads, visit

Book Trailers

Fifteen Minutes Outside, PJ’s Backyard Adventures

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