Last summer, my family and I took a once in a lifetime trip to Alaska. As we were preparing to go, I sought out as many picture books as I could find on the last frontier state. I found some really great ones. Under Alaska's Midnight Sun by Deb Vanasse is the story of a little girl who is determined to stay awake all night during the summer solstice when Alaska experiences twenty four hours of sunlight. I collected great books about Alaska's dog sledding and totem pole making traditions as well as books about what it is like to be a kid there, like the book Recess at Twenty Below by Cindy Aillaud that shows just how many layers of clothing the kids in a town around the Arctic Circle have to put on to go outside to play (spoiler alert: that makes for a lot of layers!)
Reading up on your travel destination and having lots of conversations about what the place is like helps to get kids excited. That being said, I have a confession to make. I was WAY more excited about my new Alaska book collection than my kids. They liked the stories about the racing sled dogs but weren't really interested in the rest. The lesson I learned in this experience came after the trip. We spent a week in Alaska gazing at glaciers, spotting seals floating on iceberg chunks, and eating plenty of salmon. When we got home, I found my kids pouring over the Alaska books that they had previously tossed aside. "Wow! Look at that totem pole. It is just like the one we saw."
Going to the places in the books sparked a curiosity in them that just simply reading about something hadn't. That is one reason that I love travelling with my kids. It can be tiring, challenging, not to mention so darn expensive these days, but it made me happy to give them real world context that only first hand experience can give. Where are you taking your family? Have you found any good books to get everyone excited?