“Aunt Margaret lives WHERE?”
Your GPS is set, the kids are buckled in, you’ve got a couple of sacks of munchies within reach and some plastic bags tucked in the glove compartment “just in case.” Everybody’s got their favorite pillow and a good book.
Seems like you’ve thought of everything! Except – wait a minute, what about those Sensory Immersion Literature Destination Enhancers?
Did you pack those?
Here’s the thing – every time we travel we are immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds and smells of a unique setting. We can’t help it; that’s how life works. The extra magic happens when we find a great book that brings both the book and the place to life through a story. It doesn’t even have to be a true story – Sherlock Holmes does as much for Baker Street as Laura Ingalls does for the American Midwest, regardless of whether he actually ever left a fingerprint there.
How about bringing along a tale or two that has to do with the place you’ll be visiting? Depending on your child’s interests, you might want a book that focuses on the wildlife you’ll be seeing, the history of the setting, or an industry the town is known for. Who knows what intriguing tales could be unearthed on the way to your great aunt’s house – maybe there are things about her town she doesn’t even know! Won’t your child have fun telling her about the pioneers who first settled there or the famous inventor who attended the local high school?
For help in the quest we love www.bookssetin.com, which lets you search for books by their setting, and even allows you to sort out the children’s lit category with the “Advanced Search” option. Also check the website of the town you’ll be visiting, or use Google to find interesting leads. Once you’ve chosen a book, if you find your library has a recorded version that the whole family can listen to en route, even better.
Here are a couple of other ideas for fun things to add to your Sensory Immersion Literature Destination Enhancers:
Gather a relevant prop or two, LitWits style, to pack with the book. It doesn’t take much, really! Your kids will be all the more intrigued with the book you’ve chosen if it comes with some tangible, sensory pieces right out of its pages. If you’re headed for the Catskills and your child is reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, tuck a little pocket compass in his or her pack.
Look for opportunities to taste the story, once you get there. If you’re heading through Southern California and your child is reading Any Small Goodness: A Novel of the Barrio by Tony Johnston, by all means, stop for tacos! If you’re in New England reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, best pick up some beef jerky to ease the journey. While you’re at it, stave off scurvy with a few limes. You get the point.
The key is to find a great book that connects you and your kids to the place you are headed or the journey you’ll take to get there. Your trip, and your kids’ love of reading and learning, will be all the richer because of it. That’s the beauty of sensory immersion, LitWits style!
Jenny & Becky