A great book captures kids' imaginations, taking them places they've never been without ever leaving home. But a book can also help kids and families picture favorite local spots in a whole new way. Next time your family snuggles up with a story, consider extending the experience with a trip to the location that inspired it. We've taken the guess work out of it for you with these pairings below.
"Good Night, Gorilla" by Peggy Rathman Sneaky zoo residents go home with the zookeeper in this beloved book aimed at the littlest literati. Read it with your preschoolers before your next trip to say "good night" to the Western lowland gorillas at the Saint Louis Zoo.
"For the Love of the Cardinals" by Frederick C. Klein Any self-respecting Cards fan knows that we start 'em young around here. Share this A-Z listing of classic names throughout Cardinal history before your next trip to Busch Stadium to watch the St. Louis Cardinals or for a ballpark tour.
"Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble" by Judy Schachner Everyone loves the mischievous El Skippito — especially when he's naughty. This time, the Siamese kitten/wannabe-chihuahua finds himself confronting a Sphinx and a mummy. Give your little ones a taste of ancient Egypt after you've read the book by visiting the ancient art collection at the Saint Louis Art Museum, which contains many priceless objects created during Egyptian times.
"The Philharmonic Gets Dressed" by Karla Kuskin Judging by how beautifully polished both the music and the musicians are when an orchestra performs, you'd never guess — unless you've read Karla Kuskin's cute "The Philharmonic Gets Dressed" — that those musicians undergo a transformation themselves before coming to the symphony hall. Enjoy this hilarious book before taking in one of the Saint Louis Symphony's family concerts.
"A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky," by Michael Driscoll An awesome introduction to astronomy and stargazing for early readers, this book is a perfect primer for a visit to the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. It introduces topics also explored at the attraction, including the history of space travel, the story of our solar system and how to navigate the night sky.
"At the Farmers' Market with Kids" by Leslie Jonath Although not a kids' book per se, "At the Farmer's Market with Kids" is the perfect companion for a family trip to your local market. Using easy to understand read-aloud language, the book divides typical market fare into seasons and outlines kid-friendly recipes and projects aligned with that time of year. Consult the book before your visit to an area farmers' market to make your plan, and when you get home you'll be ready to start cooking!
"Charlotte's Web" by E. B. White For decades, readers young and old have been swept up in farm-life nostalgia as they follow the antics of Wilbur, Charlotte and Fern. Take your reading one step further with a visit to Suson Park in South St. Louis County. Visitors can check out the real lives of the classic farm animals represented in White's classic book. Younger readers will enjoy reading "Barnyard Dance!" by Sandra Boynton before their visit.
"Planting a Rainbow" by Lois Ehlert First published in the '80s, "Planting a Rainbow" has stood the test of time thanks to its simple text and beautiful illustrations. Little readers can follow along the lifespan of a garden from bulb and seed to bloom — and will love following that up with a visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden, where those illustrations come to life.
New for 2016: American Girl's Girl of the Year, "Lea Dives In" by Lisa Yee True blue American Girl fans who lined up in January to meet the newest Girl of the Year were delighted to discover she's a St. Louis native. When 10-year-old explorer Lea isn't traveling through the rain forests of Brazil, she's spending time with her family in Lafayette Square. Follow in her footsteps with a visit to picturesque Lafayette Park and enjoy the area's beautiful architecture. American Girl's 2016 Girl of the Year won a photography contest for her collage of St. Louis, so for an added treat, help your young reader create a photo collage of St. Louis through her own eyes. Also, join the American Girl Store and St. Louis County Library for book club discussions of Lea in April and July.
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