Books, Books, Everywhere
When I went to Boston, I found myself picking up books everywhere--one on John Quincy Adams after going on the John Adams house tour, one on Judge Sewall after seeing the famous mural in the state capital. I even read Make Way for Ducklings to my children before visiting the statues in Boston Common. I realized I was grabbing books from the library about the Revolutionary War, the Pilgrims at Plymouth, and the War of 1812 (thanks to a trip to the USS Constitution) for my children at different age levels.
Wait. . .I'd done this before?
When I got home, I realized that this was not the first time I had bought books from different places on different vacation. Books made perfect souvenirs and enhanced the experience of the vacation. Most of the books were educational (often science or history based) or historic fiction, but a few were just plain fun. And for my toddler aged children, the books were powerful memory makers as I would read to them and say "remember when. . ."
Top 7 List
1--Good Night Boston--this series includes many major cities like New York and Washington DC as well as more generic destinations like the beach. This is my favorite "remember when we saw..." books to read to my toddlers.
2--Magic Treehouse--This series has a book for just about every destination including Earthquake in the Early Morning (San Francisco); Buffalo Before Breakfast (Native Americans); Civil War on Sunday including Clara Barton; Revolutionary War on Wednesday: Twister on Tuesday (Westward Expansion); Thanksgiving on Thursday; High Tide in Hawaii; A Good Night For Ghosts (New Orleans) just to name a few. In addition to the fiction series, they also offer companion books that teach the history including Abraham Lincoln, the American Revolution, and Colonial Life of the Pilgrims.
3--The American Girls Felicity Series and A Haunting in Williamsburg by Lou Kassem--When visiting the historic triangle area of Virginia, these books enhance the experience and make a historic site a virtual playground.
4--Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare and The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox. If you are bringing middle schoolers on your vacation, these Newbery Award books provide a teens view into colonial life including the dangers and hardships of life.
5--Capital Mysteries--If you are visiting Washington DC, these mystery books can add a dash of excitement and silly for kids around age 7. But beware, these are whacky and adventurous plot lines, not award winning literature.
6--Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon--In this classic book, Curious George inadvertently flies over Mt. Rushmore. For a family with younger kids, this is a must pick up souvenir when visiting the famous monument.
7--Wonders of America Series--From the Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls and everything in between this series offers a book on dozens of famous sights at a beginning reading level. Geared for ages 4-6, these book give the educational background easy enough for a preschooler to understand. You can pick up a book before you go to prepare your child or afterward to preserve the memory. These are the preschool version of the Good Night books featured earlier in this post.
To Deepen and Remember
Books can deepen the experience of many vacation destinations and help preserve memories. They can help kids prepare for a destination. They can be educational. They can add a bit of whimsy or mystery to the vacation. And they can provide a memory to be shared every time they read that book again including to their own kids decades from now.
My list includes books we read on our cross country trip. What books would you recommend?