After returning from a cross-country flight, a good friend of mine vowed to never travel again. She figured if she happened to get curious about a place, she could just read about it. This wouldn’t be just as good, it would be better. Think of the cost savings! The stress reduction! The extra notch on the ol’ Goodreads belt!
Her advice was, alas, too late for me. Somehow our four “free” vouchers with British Airways have turned into (what should be expected) a not-free-at-all trip to Italy. And to the bewilderment of my friends, we decided to use our vouchers not for two lovely trips for our adult selves, but no, we have decided that we want to travel instead with our two young children whose days and nights will be completely mixed up and who will likely have zero interest in spending hours in museums or at historical sites.
But what’s done is done, and I can still capitalize on half of my friend’s wisdom, the best part, the reading part.
And if you would like to visit Florence and Venice with your children without, you know, flying across the world with your children, these books will transport you there with absolutely zero jet lag.
Stone Giant by Jane Sutcliffe and John Shelley
If you only read one book about The David, this should be it. It has every element of the history I want my children to know before seeing the sculpture in person, and is interesting and engaging so that information will actually stick. And hopefully your children can get all the sillies out about seeing a naked sculpture at your dinner table, rather than, you know, pointing and giggling in person. Which would be fine. I guess. But maybe that’s another pro for the reading-instead-of-traveling column.
Going strong at 50+ chapter books and counting, you can always count on Mary Pope Osborne to deliver history in a kid-approved package.
I wasn’t sure how to get my kids excited about seeing the Duomo, and then I found Pippo.
Oh, how I love Olivia. I know Bill Watterson and other anti-franchisers would be furious with Ian Falconer for giving corporations the right to make Olivia books that don’t even approach the quality of the original, but I can’t be mad at Falconer, because his books are so lovely. While Olivia Goes to Venice isn’t the best of the series, it is great fun (“Olivia required another gelato”), and it’s a must-read for your book-trip to Venice.
I read the first book of this trilogy with my son and we really enjoyed it. Book one is spent trying to get to Venice, but book two is where you actually arrive and park for a bit. Unfortunately (or not), we simultaneously started book two and The Giver, and since few can compete with Lois Lowry we haven’t made it back to Lion Boy. But if you’re looking for a Venice book for an older child, the Lion Boy series is a good bet.
The Year I Didn’t Go to School by Giselle Potter
What? Giselle Potter skipped school for a year to be a street performer with her family in Italy? Yes, please!
Pick up a pint of gelato on your way home from the library, and buon viaggio!