Reading Rainbow & Travel for Kids
This post was originally written about how reading inspired travel for kids for Reading Rainbow‘s website. While the show is (hopefully) being rebooted, I revised this article for Have Kids Will Travel.
Books and reading are a big part of our day-to day-lives, and our travels have been no exception. Our dog-eared copy of Goodnight Moon was a part of my children’s bedtime routine in seven countries and, during our pre-iPad days, our carry-on bags were often perilously close to overweight with many, many books. We are definitely grateful for tablets and e-readers lightening our loads – literally!
And technology and TV have also helped us to read and learn more, if you can believe it. We used to record old episodes of Reading Rainbow. One episode in particular we were absolutely not allowed to erase. Dive to the Coral Reefs, featuring Levar Burton scuba diving in the Florida Keys, remained on our PVR and was watched at least weekly for over two years – until we changed cable providers and had to upgrade our receiver.
The love and fascination for everything under the sea has remained… books bought, aquariums visited, and on one of our family vacations? An actual dive to a coral reef.
Scuba Diving & Travel for Kids
Many years ago, Mexico’s Riviera Maya was the first place I ever snorkeled. And after this trip, it became the first place my then-eight-year-old daughter, M.E., tried scuba diving. You can’t get your PADI license until age 10, but Dressel Divers, located right on the beach next door to our resort, offered a “Little Bubblemaker” program, where kids as young as eight can dive off the the pier in 6-9 feet of water to a small reef located right offshore. There is 30 minutes of instruction, and then a 45 minute dive.
I will admit, I was nervous. This was a child who, just mere weeks earlier, was in tears at swimming lessons over diving for a ring in the deep end. And yet, here she was: expertly spitting in her mask and prepping her vest in preparation for her very first dive. The instructor, Amy, was incredibly patient and obviously very skilled in teaching little ones. They effortlessly popped off the pier and away they went under the water. Travel for kids is wonderful for awakening an adventurous spirit.
Scuba = Smiles 🙂
We could follow their progress by watching their surface marker buoy. And 40 minutes or so later, I saw her blonde head pop up, with a very big grin that I had seen before. It was the same grin Levar Burton had after his dive on the reef on the show. And my husband also had the exact same grin after a dive in Barbados many years earlier.
M.E. had seen the different corals waving in the sand. And two stingrays, and a flounder. These creatures were no longer pictures in a book, they were part of an entirely new world under the sea. Someday soon, my husband will finally have some dive buddies. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic it was our son’s birthday wish to get his scuba certification. Too bad now he’s too old for Little Bubblemakers!
But maybe now I’m brave enough to consider learning to scuba dive, too. Then we can be an underwater family of four! It’s time for me to find our old copy of Dive To The Coral Reefs.
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