I encourage parents and kids to dive into some reading to help prepare you logistically, culturally and linguistically for your journey. Once you arrive to Nicaragua, you will be more dependent on the Internet and digital readers for information as physical books (especially for kids) are hard to come by and to import. Also for younger kids, it is nice to have access to beautiful picture books to set the scene for their extended stay in Nicaragua and support their Spanish language lessons.
Moon Living Abroad In Nicaragua written by Joshua Berman and Randall Wood. Both Joshua and Randall were Peace Corps volunteers in Nicaragua and stayed on to compile previous versions of Moon Nicaragua travel guides.
Fast forward years later to having their own families and now they also have written a book on how to move or plan an extended stay with your family to Nicaragua. These guys have the Nica credentials and understand the lay of the land and the culture. A good Nicaragua 101 book. Available only in print format.
Lonely Planet Nicaragua by Bridget Gleeson and Alex Egerton. Lonely Planet always does a fantastic job at researching essential travel details. While this guide is not intended for folks who are moving to Nicaragua, it will help you to work out your travel plans throughout the country during your extended stay. This travel guide like most others does not offer specific advice or recommendations to families travelling with children. Available in print and digital format. I recommend the print edition for better map viewing by parents and kids.
Lonely Planet Costa Rica by Mara Vorhees and Anna Kaminski. Most families that are planning extended stays in Granada will at some point do a border run over to Costa Rica to renew their Nicaraguan tourist visas. It is a great idea to take advantage of the trip south to explore the Costa Rican region of Guanacaste that just lays on the other side (this province incidentally did once upon a time pertain to Nicaragua).
Plan a week out to see the famed beaches of Costa Rica and gain perspective on what makes Nicaragua the unique destination that it is. Available in print (better maps!) and digital format.
Insight into Nicaragua
Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua by Stephan Kinzer. If you really want to know what Nicaragua’s civil war was all about, this is the classic read from young correspondent Stephen Kinzer’s perspective as a visitor and resident in the war years.
The war has been distanced from Nicaragua by one adult generation only. Anyone forty years or over will remember it. However, the revolution is very much still alive all over Nicaragua. Ask your kids to keep their eyes out for evidence! This book is appropriate for parents and older teenagers and is available only in print format.
Fun realistic fiction based in Nicaragua
The Ladies of Managua by Eleni N. Gage. An inside look at three generations of women and the impact the Sandinista Revolution had on their decisions and destinies. This is was a really enjoyable read that also helps make understanding the war years more tangible and memorable through engaging female protagonists based in Nicaragua and the United States.
Let’s Explore… Jungle (Lonely Planet Kids) by Pippa Curnick and Jen Feroze. A ecological global twist on an activity book for ages 5-8. I like that this book can be useful on a long plane ride and will inspire musings about what kids will reasonable find on their hikes through the jungle or a cloud forest. Many of the featured animals are within a very short driving distance from Granada.
Paperback: 48 pages
Classic children’s literature in Spanish that they might already know in English can be helpful to learning Nicaragua’s mother tongue. If your children love Dr. Seuss in English, those same rhyming sequences are great for practicing Spanish pronunciation. You can try these familiar titles for which many kids already know the back story:
Aiden loved these two books when he was around 4-6 years because of the sing-songy repetition:
Diez Pequeñas Mariquitas with 10 Attached Vinyl Bugs by Melanie Gerth.
Cha-Cha-Cha en la Selva by Debbie Harter. Audio book version available.