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Day Trips for Book Lovers

These ideas for summer excursions bring your child's favorite books to life.

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A visit to Chincoteague Island, setting for <i>Misty of Chincoteague</i>, is a horse-lover's dream.
A visit to Chincoteague Island, setting for Misty of Chincoteague, is a horse-lover's dream.

Not everyone lives near Chincoteague lsland off the Maryland and Virginia coastline (Misty of Chincoteague) or has a chance to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder house museum in the Ozarks (Little House on the Prairie). But books can inspire some exciting day trips. Consider your child's favorite stories — perhaps old classics, or something new he read during the past school year. Notice the themes that emerge, and plan a related trip. This is a fun way to support your child's curiosity about the subjects she loves most. We've identified some popular genres and suggested some activities the whole family can enjoy.

 

If your child loves...Day trip ideasInspirational titles
History Invite a few of his friends to take a group cooking class focusing on that period's cuisine.  A local culinary school, a living history museum or plantation, or a restaurant in a historic setting may be willing to do this for you. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
Ben and Me, Robert Lawson
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
Battles Visit a battlefield to see a historic reenactment, or even participate in one. Another option: Explore a battleship that's now in dry dock. Love Thy Neighbor: The Tory Diary of Prudence Emerson, Ann Turner
Slave Dancer, Paula Fox
The Secret of Sarah Revere, Ann Rinaldi
L'il Dan, The Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story, Romare Bearden
Knights and medieval topics Visit a museum with an armor exhibit; eat a meal with your hands at Medieval Times restaurant (there are eight across the country); attend a medieval festival on a summer weekend.  With music, sporting events, and competitions, all performed in historic dress, your child will find himself fully immersed in the period. Crispin, the Cross of Lead, Avi
The Midwife's Apprentice, Karen Cushman
Knight's Castle, Edward Eager
The Castle Builder, Dennis Nolan
Explorers Find out which ones ventured through your area. Plan a journey that replicates the experience. Even if Lewis and Clark were nowhere near your home, reading an excerpt from their journal and re-creating some measure of one day's journey in a nearby park can give your child a sense of the magnitude of the endeavor.  Mark a trail through the woods and walk it carrying a backpack, and perhaps some of the equipment the explorers brought along.  Or go tubing down a river that figures in your child's reading; just for the day, call it the mighty Mississippi, even if it isn't. Lewis and Clark: In Their Own Words, George Sullivan
Encounter, Jane Yolen
To the Edge of the World, Michele Torrey
Finding the Titanic, Robert D. Ballard
Animals Join your child in volunteering for a morning at the animal shelter. She'll find our just what's involved in keeping the pets clean, happy, and well fed. Or head for a thoroughbred horse farm or racetrack; some have trackside restaurants that serve breakfast during morning workouts. A Cricket in Times Square, George Selden
The Story of Ferdinand, Munro Leaf
Babe, the Gallant Pig, Dick King-Smith
Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell
Boating and fishing Visit a fish hatchery. You can also take a fishing trip or a riverboat cruise. If you're lucky enough to live near a canal, rent a boat and take a leisurely ride through the locks. Watch the water rise and fall as you travel from place to place. All Dads on Deck, Judy Delton
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
Jim Davis: A High-Sea Adventure, John Masefield
Young Man and the Sea, Rodman Philbrick
Adventure Consider a kayaking lesson for the whole family. Go fossil hunting or spelunking. Walk through underground caverns. Sit by a waterfall.  The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
BFG, Roald Dahl
Five on a Treasure Island, Enid Blyton
Robots Engineer a trip to a factory where things are assembled. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha-Monkeys from Mars, Dav Pilkey
Robots Rising, Carol Sonenklar
Snowie Rolie, William Joyce
Batteries Not Included, Seth McEvoy
Detective stories See if an investigator at your local police department would be willing to tell your child how he does his job and share a tale or two. You can also visit a magic shop and buy some "surveillance" equipment like binoculars, a walkie-talkie, a fingerprinting kit, and a magnifying glass, and send your child off on their own benign spying missions.  The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, Donald J. Sobol
Miss Nelson is Missing, Harry G. Allard
Olivia and the Missing Toy, Ian Falconer
Music Budding musicians might enjoy a visit to a factory where guitars are made. Or get tickets to a film or music festival that focuses on a particular country or composer. Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, Lloyd Moss
Duke Ellington, Mike Venezi