Whether your family is traveling to another country or another borough this summer, there are lots of opportunities to incorporate books and reading into your travels and make this a summer of adventure and learning.
Ever since I read the picture book Magic Trash, which tells the story of the Heidelberg Project, I’ve wanted to visit Detroit and see Tyree Guyton’s neighborhood-as-art project. So when I had the opportunity to take a long weekend, I went to Detroit to check out his work.
I also dream of going to Vienna, primarily because Eva Ibbotson brings her birth city so vividly to life in her middle grade fiction book, The Star of Kazaan.
Sure, to some people, it might sound more sophisticated to claim that I visited Detroit to get a pulse on urban revitalization or that I want to go to Vienna because of a lifelong love of Beethoven and Mozart (and if you catch me at a cocktail party, I may say just that). But it was reading children’s books about these places that truly piqued my interest and made me think, “I have to see that someday.”
Closer to home, my friend and I, who both live in the Bronx, made a special trip to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to visit the Peter and Willie statue. We love author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats so much that it was worth it to us just to visit a bronze statue of his characters!
Are you going to fly to Chad because your child’s favorite book from kindergarten was Rain School by James Rumford? Or visit Xian because your third grader became obsessed with the terracotta warriors? Perhaps not. But we’re incredibly lucky to live in NYC, where some of the all-time best children’s books are set.
So this summer, think about reading one of the many books set in New York City before taking a super special trip to visit the locations featured in the book. Even if you’ve visited these places before, reading about specific settings and sights gives kids a sense of ownership over them. It always brings me special joy when I hear a child exclaim, “Wait, I READ about that!”
- Lightship by Brian Floca – The Lightship Ambrose museum at The South Street Seaport
- My Chinatown: One Year in Poems by Kam Mak – Chinatown
- Uptown by Bryan Collier – Harlem
- You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser
- Stuart Little by E.B. White – Central Park’s model boat pond where Stuart sailed
- From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg OR Masterpiece by Elise Broach – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – The American Museum of Natural History