Literary Destinations

Living in our neck of the woods is the perfect location. We’re just a couple of hours from New York or Boston and have so many opportunities for awesome day trips! My husband and I have been taking advantage on the weekends and going on literary adventures. The children’s librarian in me is delighted with all there is to offer for picture book lovers:

Eric Carle Pigeon

The Eric Carle Picture Book Museum (Amherst, MA) is just about an hour and a half drive. (OWL’s pass admits two adults and four children into the museum for free.) In addition to housing Eric Carle’s art from various picture books, their exhibitions change about every six months and feature a mix of prolific and new picture book artists. This is one museum where I feel right at home, not having to worry too much about whispering and acting proper. Recently there was a Mo Willems exhibit that I had to see! I had fun with Pigeon (even though neither of us got to drive the bus), Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant and Piggie. In addition to being an art museum, there is a craft room to try out different art techniques. Even adults get to play with all of their fun art tools! Their library is full of Caldecott honors and winners, and the newest additions to the picture book medium. They have a regularly scheduled storytime for families, featuring new and classic picture books for all to enjoy. Their gift shop is expansive and has lots of signed books for gift giving, baby literacy-related toys, and even literacy-related clothes! (I had to buy myself a Pigeon shirt!)

Boston Public Courtyard

After spending a recent fall weekend in Boston, I went to the Boston Public Library (Boston, MA) for the first time. The library is amazing in size, offerings, and collections. The children’s room is named after the writer and illustrator of the Curious George series: Margret and H.A. Rey. But the most amazing thing about the library was the outdoor courtyard. Everyone was outside, eating snacks, on their laptops using the Wi-Fi, and reading various types of publications. If my husband and I lived in Boston, we agreed that lots of our spare time would be spent here!

Make Way for Ducklings

A short walk from the Boston Public Library is the Boston Public Gardens (Boston, MA). The park has a Make Way for Ducklings statue. If you’re not familiar with this classic children’s book it tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who can’t decide on the perfect place to start a family. The ducklings hatch and Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack follow Mama on a great adventure until they finally decide to live in the Gardens. This was the fifth book to win the Caldecott Medal in 1942 for most distinguished picture book. There’s always a line to have your picture taken with the family, but it’s well worth it.

Wild Things

My first visit to the New York Public Library (New York City, NY) was just one month ago. They were having a special exhibit called Why Children’s Books Matter. You can poke around for hours in this amazing exhibit. You can stomp through a Wild Things doorway, pause to read in the Goodnight Moon window, follow Harold’s Purple Crayon around the room, and walk through the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland. It was so neat to see where the first children’s room was created and where the first storytime was done in the world. I paid my tribute to Anne Carroll Moore, the first children’s librarian, on my way out the door.

Good Night Moon Room

The Children’s Museum  (New Haven, CT) also has a Goodnight Moon Room. Each room in the Children’s Museum is based on one of the theories of multiple intelligences. The Goodnight Room is the “linguistic” room and features the classic book in many different languages including Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese, Hebrew, and Braille. I just want to curl up and listen to a bedtime story in this peaceful space.

There are plenty of other day trips to take in the area to visit some “grownup” authors. We plan on making these visits, too:

Mark Twain House exterior

Mark Twain House (Hartford, CT) (OWL’s pass admits one complimentary adult admission with the purchase of one adult admission OR two complimentary child admissions with the purchase of one adult admission.)

Emily Dickinson House

Emily Dickinson Museum (Amherst, MA)

The Mount Edith Wharton

The Mount (Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox, MA)

Alcott House

Alcott House (in Concord, MA where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women)

New Bedford Whaling

New Bedford Whaling Museum (New Bedford, MA where Herman Melville left on the voyage that inspired Moby Dick)

What’s your favorite literary destination?

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is adding The Art Institute of Chicago to her Someday List to see the sixty-eight miniature rooms that inspired the children’s series The 68 Rooms.

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