A focal part of my relationship with my niece and nephew is reading.
Sure, we do a lot of tickling, and kissing, and hugging, and chasing, and shoulder rides, and laughing. There are water slide parks, and cheeseburgers, and train museums…and other things, too.
But, every time I visit them, I bring them each a book. And, every time I put them to bed, we read.
So, it is no surprise that traveling with them involves books, too.
First, there is deciding which books they will bring on any given trip (they are allowed three each).
Then, at each gift store we visit for each train museum (our trips usually involve train museums), there is deciding if they will buy a book or a toy, and which one. I love that they are completely torn by the decision: to them, a book is just as tempting as a toy. It is so gratifying to see them struggle over whether they want a new book or a something that beeps and lights up and moves. They fully understand the magic of books: books are magic carpets that can take you to new and exiting lands where you’ll join new friends on an adventure of sorts.
Finally, there is the joy of reading the new books when we get back home, and, in a very real way, reliving the vacation a little bit. The book becomes a special kind of magic carpet, that no only transports us to the places within its pages, but ALSO has the power to transport us back to our vacation. It becomes a secret ticket that only has that power for us, the people who were on the original trip when the book was procured.
Last summer we went to the Wisconsin Dells, and visited two train museums. We got the book, “Ants on the Tracks”. Every time we read it, we of course visit the ants on the tracks. But, we also get to remember the whole vacation: water slides, fudge, trains, pools, duck boats. Go figure — all that in a book about ants on a track.
I am incredibly passionate about books. And travel. And spending time with my niece and nephew. When all three of these activities marry, I am absolutely giddy with joy.