Is your family in need of a good adventure? While we may not be able to physically travel like we want to right now, it doesn’t mean adventure isn’t possible. In fact, my son and I started on a new adventure just a couple of weeks ago, as we dove into the National Geographic Explorer Academy series for young readers. We’ve been reading Book 1 of the series together and it has taken us to places we never thought we’d ever visit.
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I’m a parent who is fully invested in the education of my kids. My 9 year old son has been struggling a bit with his 3rd grade reading comprehension, so naturally I look for ways to help him. Third grade is a year where in the subject of reading, test questions and comprehension takes a big turn. Questions are no longer black and white details from a story, but instead kids start learning to make inferences from context clues. This is new to him, so I understand the struggle.
Even more to my son’s disadvantage is the sheer fact that he just simply doesn’t like to read. And you know what, I’m the same way. Growing up, math was my strong subject and I only read when I absolutely had to. That said, I still want my son to succeed.
I knew the first step was to find books that would catch his attention and hold his interest. It was right around the time we were looking for titles, that I received the opportunity to check out the Explorer Academy series. And now here we are, exploring the world together through these books.
Together, my son and I have been reading Book #1, The Nebula Secret. Just looking at the book, I knew my son would be intimidated. But by letting him know I would help him read it and actually getting started, he’s become really interested in the adventure. I always let my son start with the reading and when I see he’s starting to fade, I take over for a few pages. I follow his lead and each day we read as much as we can, or as much as he’s tuned in to.
So, about those adventures I promised…
Imagine you’re a 12 year old boy, about to embark on what could be the most important mission of your life. That’s exactly what’s happening with Cruz Coronado in The Nebula Secret. He leaves his home in Hawaii to attend the prestigious Explorer Academy, where select kids from around the world train to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, the stakes are high.
He always thought his mom, who also attended and even played an important role at Explorer Academy, had died in an accident. But mysterious happenings that started even before Cruz arrived at the Academy are making him question if her death was truly an accident, or if it was intentional. The biggest reason is that someone is out to get him. In the midst of all the cool, high tech classes he’s taking at the Academy, Cruz is trying to solve the mystery of his mother’s death, while also dealing with the reality that whoever may have been involved with her death, is after him too.
Will he find the answers he’s looking for?
From the very first chapter of The Nebula Secret, the storyline pulls you in. The action starts right away and every few chapters another mysterious event happens that pulls you in even more. After every chapter my son anticipates what’s going to happen next. As a parent who knows my child is struggling with certain areas of reading, it’s exciting to see.
I’ll admit that I’ve gotten really invested in the storyline too. We’re only halfway through The Nebula Secret, but we’ve been completely drawn in and have no intentions of stopping anytime soon. We can’t wait to see how Cruz’s first year at Explorer Academy ends, and whether he solves the mystery of his mother’s death and who’s out to get him.
The synopsis and video above are truly just skimming the surface of how adventurous The Nebula Secret really is. I don’t want to give away too many details, but by the end of the 5-book series, Cruz (and the reader) will have traveled to all 7 continents. And not just typical tourist areas, but to some real hidden gems of each location.
The stories themselves are fiction, but I think what makes them so captivating is that the escapades are inspired by real-life adventures of real National Geographic explorers – herpetologists, conservationists, astronomers, oceanographers, paleoanthropologists, behavioral ecologists, wildlife biologists, linguistic anthropologists, and more.
Location-wise, this video reveals the only hint you’ll get from me as to where Cruz and his classmates get to explore in the Explorer Academy series. (This is relative to Book #2 in the series, The Falcon’s Feather.)
Do you have the access to visit an ice cave right now, or ever?! Your young reader has the access with Cruz and his classmates! Just imagine the adventure of exploring a glacier or inside an ice cave.
And not to be left by the wayside, is the technology. From a high-tech, life-like simulator the students use to exercise their skills, down to the tiniest of drones that at one point saves Cruz’s life, the technology in the story is quite advanced, especially for 12 year olds. It’s the type of technology you sometimes only dream of having the privilege to use. But again, with the help of roboticists, material architects, inventors, and engineers, the technology in the story is inspired by real-life advancements in technology today. It’s mind blowing.
One of my favorite things about Explorer Academy, is that the select kids chosen to attend, are from all over the world. Cruz’s class is a pretty diverse set of kids who are from different descents and each having a different knowledge base. But that’s what makes them work so well together. If Cruz doesn’t know something, you can bet one of his classmates does. Through all the adventure and mystery, the story teaches great lessons of friendship, family, loyalty, and trust amongst one of the most diverse groups of kids you’ll ever see.
As my son and I were reading, this was actually something I pointed out to him. I asked, do you see anything unique about Cruz’s teammates (the class is broken into teams of 6)? It wasn’t something he noticed, so I explained it to him. In doing so, it’s helping him learn to read between the lines, so to speak, and use those context clues to come to certain conclusions. More importantly, it’s teaching him the uniqueness and value of everyone’s differences, which is something many people in the world are yet to realize.
Each book in the Explorer Academy series has a “Truth Behind the Fiction” section in the back, where your young reader can learn more about all of the real-life explorers and inspiration. But there’s also a dedicated Explorer Academy website that covers the same info, plus some – character information, explorer games, and videos of the real-life National Geographic explorers (like the ones above). The website even allows your child to read the first chapter in each of the 5 books, which is a great way to gauge interest in the series.
Personally, I’ve really enjoyed taking the time to read with my son and we can’t wait to learn how The Nebula Secret ends. Not only that, but we still have 4 more books in the series to go, so the adventures aren’t stopping here. Our time invested in the Explorer Academy series has become a great way for just the two of us to spend time together, which is something we don’t get very often, if ever.
It feels good to have found something we can enjoy together and that I know is also ultimately helping my son reach his educational goals. Luckily, the adventures within the binds of the Explorer Academy series have really captivated his attention and are bringing out the young adventurer inside.
Is your young explorer ready to join Cruz and his classmates on their adventures around the world?
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