“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” (Part One)

In honor of September being International Literacy Month, we’re going to take a trip around the world, visiting all seven continents through a selection of children’s picture books. The best part: you can do it from the comfort of your comfiest chair, at your local library, or just about anywhere.  Let your kids discover just how books can transport them to far-off places, imaginary lands, and even back in time or into the future.

Before we embark, we’ll need some inspiration. The title of this post comes from Dr. Seuss’ famous book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”, which describes the universal journey through life and the challenges we face along the way. Perhaps the most famous line from this classic tale is, “Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed. (98¾% guaranteed.)” So wherever you go, no matter what you do, help your kids develop the confidence that with enough effort, determination, and a little luck, they will succeed. Now fasten your seat belts!

You can begin your trip wherever you choose; we’re going to start in North America, in the hustle and bustle of New York City. And guess what – our first book doesn’t even contain any words, just pictures. “You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum” shows a little girl and her grandmother who visit New York’s most famous museum, and the famous works of art and funny characters they encounter along the way. (This is a perfect book for Sparkup, because you can make up and record your own version of the story). Heading south from the Big Apple, we’ll travel to the Mexican town of San Miguel for some “Cactus Soup”. A twist on the classic “Stone Soup”, this book introduces young readers to classic Mexican ingredients and cooking through sumptuous illustrations, and teaches important lessons about hosting strangers.

Continuing south, we’re about to enter South America, where we’ll visit Columbia and Peru. The Andes are the longest continental mountain chain in the world, with lush forests at the base, snow-covered peaks and native peoples who have preserved their own way life for thousands of years. Our first stop is in Columbia, where we’ll meet a man whose house became so full of books that he bought himself a donkey and travelled to neighboring villages where he shared his books with the local children. What’s really cool: Biblioburro: A True Story from Columbia is based on a real man and his books! Next we’ll hop on down to Peru and continue our adventure along the Andes. “Up and Down the Andes” takes us from Lake Titicaca, the highest freshwater lake in the world, all the way to Cusco, the town just outside Machu Picchu, where we will celebrate the Inti Raymi festival.

Seeing as we’re already in South America, let’s keep heading south until we reach…Antarctica! (Don’t forget to bring your winter coat and scarf) We’ll meet “Emily and Alfie”, two penguins who are best friends and looking for adventure. But remember: just because the continent is located so far away doesn’t mean it’s safe from unwanted visitors. “Antarctica” tells the story of a group of seals and penguins who, as the daylight peaks through and the spring begins, encounter the arrival of an unexpected and potentially harmful presence…

Check out that book to find out how the story ends (we’re rooting for a happy ending), and check back next week as we continue our journey around the world!

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