It’s been a little while, so how about I make it up with pictures and lots of book-talk? :)
There are so many things I love about my girls, things that make my heart swell and make me feel so lucky to be their mom. One of those things is they love to travel and to see new places. For spring break we took our first family vacation and settled on Washington, D.C., as the destination. I worried the girls, ages seven and four, might be a little young for the abundance of museums that DC offers and the walking that it requires, but they were wonderful and enjoyed so much: trying new ways of getting around (Plane! Taxi! Metro! Bus! Double decker bus! Most giant escalators!), new cuisines (Greek, modern Jewish deli, Japanese, and authentic Italian), and new sights with new experiences.
Before we left, each person got to pick one place they really wanted to visit during the trip. Alice picked the National Zoo, Adeline selected the Bureau of Engraving, Ken picked the National Air and Space Museum, and I settled on the National Museum of Women in the Arts. We do not mess around with nerding it halfway. All or nothing.
Based on this initial list we managed to see and do so much more, and just about every great place we went, we got books. Books to learn more, books to remind us where we’ve been, books to take home and relive some of the landmarks and history.
Both girls adored The Official Kids Guide to the Smithsonian Institution, and we would look at it each night to either get excited about the museum we’d see the next day or to review the neat things we’d already seen. It was this book that alerted Alice to the fact that there is such a thing as fossilized dinosaur poop, which we did our best to track down in the National Museum of Natural History. (We found fossilized giant ground sloth poop instead, and I call that good enough.)
We visited two important memorials in one afternoon, and wouldn’t you know it, they each had a book store! Two of Adeline’s heroes are Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln, and she was very excited to see these places dedicated to them. To learn more about each man, we found two age-appropriate books, in addition to a Magic Tree House book about George Washington.
Look at that blue sky on a chilly spring day! The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., monument was dedicated only 2.5 years ago, on the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington. It was quite beautiful and leaves an impression. I reminded the girls how Dr. King was friends with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and how they both stood up for justice and freedom for all people; King spoke out for Soviet Jews, and Heschel marched for southern African Americans.
The crowds at the Lincoln Memorial made it harder to commune with the Great Emancipator, but the girls seemed to enjoy it.
I love hearing their sense of fairness and their understanding of justice, of exactly how things should be, because they are 100 percent spot-on and unclouded by hate and bigotry – of course people should not *own* other people! How could that even be a thing?! At least things aren’t that way anymore, huh, Mama?
After dinner in our temporary Dupont Circle neighborhood, we found one of the best independent book stores: Kramerbooks and Afterwords Cafe. I picked out these two books for the girls, and as I hoped, they both loved Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. The Caldecott Honor Book is a sweet yet powerful introduction to an extraordinary woman, Jane Goodall.
I’d heard great things about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynn M. Valente, and I got this to set aside until it would be a good read-aloud chapter book. But first I read it myself, and I have to say I am a bit disappointed. I won’t rush out for the others in the series, but I am still in love with that title and the beautiful cover art. Luscious!
In the bookstore Alice handed me these two books. Ha! Needless to say, I got her the one on the right. Although I do love some Oatmeal!
Lastly, while we were in the National Zoo gift shop, I was ecstatic to see a good selection of Barefoot Books! Yay books! Yay traveling!
Do you have a go-to souvenir when you travel? Shot glasses? Spoons? (It’s hard to believe it was ever a thing to collect souvenir spoons, but I promise I did not make that up.)