9 Summer Downtime Distractions for the Older Kids

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Visiting the pool, attending summer camp, riding the bike through the park, summer can be an active season for kids but planning some downtime is also important. Here are 9 great books to keep those finicky older kids quietly content.

A First for Everything

As parents it’s not unusual to maintain baby journals, recording important milestones in our child’s life. I know my kids love to revisit these books, making a closer connection to themselves, but first don’t just stop when your child turns one.


A First for Everything captures those many firsts the kids discover, some good (first kiss), some not so good (first swear word) but all are part of your child’s foray into adulthood. This is easily a book that can travel through a child’s life. I especially love that each entry isn’t just a date input but it asks questions around the event, helping to create and capture the story behind each first. I wish I had a book like this when growing up.

642 Things to Write About: Young Writer’s Edition

Journals are a nice way to record a thought or moment but some junior writers may be more interested in exploring their creative side. 642 Things to Write About: Young Writer’s Edition includes pages of prompts to inspire a little creative writing.


Write about the worries a tall person may feel or how you help a friend deal with their fear of the dark. Not to worry there’s a grown-up version so you can do a little writing when the kids are working. This is on my bucket list.

Q & A A Day for Kids (A Three Year Journal)

This is part journal, part family keepsake. Each day a question from children’s author Betsy Franco is featured with a few lines to jot down an answer.


Q &A A Day for Kids is positioned as something for parents to talk to their kids and record their answers like a memento of a moment in time but this could be a great journal for older kids to record their own thoughts. The journal covers a three year period, asking the same question each year. This becomes a great keepsake for kids as they get older and their interests and points of view change.

Wreck This Journal

It was actually our Junior Style Blogger who brought this to my attention. Most journals are about preserving memories and moments but Wreck This Journal is, as the name implies, the complete opposite.


With tasks like ripping out and freezing a page or stomping on a page with dirty shoes, I can see why this book would be appealing.  Sometimes working out a little steam in a creative way can be fun too. With a book recommendation for 18 and up I was worried some of the content would be inappropriate but I’ve gone through each and every (crazy fun) page. I think it’s just because its destructive nature that warrants the older age designation. I would have no problem giving this book to my oldest daughter. You’ll find other great books by the author Keri Smith, like The Pocket Scavenger and Finish This Book.

Do You Know Who You Are?

Summer can also be a great time for a little introspection.  Do You Know Who You Are? will have young people thinking about what they are good at, what their passions are, dreams for the future through the use of interactive quizzes and fun activities.


Create a friend circle, learn what the lines in your hand say about you, or maybe put yourself to the test in different scenarios and record how you would handle them. To be honest this is a book even I would enjoy if I hadn’t already promised it to my pre-teen daughter.

Connect the Thoughts

Some kids aren’t about the writing. That’s my son. That’s what is so appealing about Connect the Thoughts Journal. The book is divided into five different categories, like music, food, dreams, plus there are a few free pages at the back for their own categories. The bottom of each page has little thought starters based on each category.


Kids are encouraged to just share their thoughts, from a drawing, a magazine clipping, words that inspire them, a simple doodle, or anything that passes through their head. It’s a thought journal. The dots on the pages can be used within creating your thought or to create a framework for your thought. How you child uses Connect the Thoughts is up to how their mind works.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do It Yourself

Fans of this series love the stick figure illustrations and journal-like text in the book. With the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do It Yourself book kids can become the author and illustrator. They can create their own comic, create their perfect Desert Island Picks list, develop rules they would love to apply to their family and more interactive fun.


642 Things to Draw

Along the same idea of 642 Things to Write About, this journal provides prompts. Some tasks are simple, such as drawing a bicycle or water tower where as others are more conceptual like drawing the sound of laughter.


Some little artists love to draw and doodle but perhaps they need a little inspiration to stretch their creative thinking or venture into an area of drawing they have never thought of. That’s where 642 Things to Draw comes in. They can go from front to back, pick random pages or gravitate to the subjects that interest them. It’s their journal to explore and discover.

Make Map Art 

Okay perhaps this isn’t really a book but you will find it with the other journals in the bookstore. We often use maps to guide us to our destination, perhaps our weekend getaway. Some adventures don’t exist on a map but Make Map Art can change that.


This kit enables kids to map out their own adventure. Maybe it’s their favourite neighbourhood spots or their secret route to the park. Let their creativity soar with this activity and it will make a great memory keepsake from one summer.

Speaking of maps, you’ll find a few map-related crafts within our 51 Travel Crafts list.

Avoid “I’m bored” or take a break from the electronics by keeping a few of these journals by your pre-teen’s bedside, perfect for in the backyard, on the beach, or during the family road trip.

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