A KidLit Visit to Massachusetts: Top 10 Stops Along the Way by Lesley Burnap
I am proud of my home state in the book-nerdiest of ways: We seem to be crawling with folks working in the industry of children’s literature! Growing up in the western part of Massachusetts, I was aware of literary icons Jane Yolen, Norton Juster and Eric Carle living nearby. Fast forward about 40 years and Western Mass.*, heck, the entire state now shares a wealth of kidlit authors and illustrators. (I will not even attempt to list them all here for I fear that I will inadvertently forget someone!) The wonderful thing for kid readers and kidlit fans in Massachusetts is that there are many opportunities throughout the year where you can catch some of your favorite book creators! So, if you’re up for a visit to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, take a peek at my suggestions and start your planning! (For your benefit, I have attached links for more information.)
Please take note, my suggestions are by no means an exhaustive list of all the wonderful children’s literature inspired places to visit in Massachusetts. I hope that you will take these suggestions and continue your own research into other kidlit destinations and events, and not just in Massachusetts. It is my great wish that this post will inspire YOU to take a look in your own backyard and see what’s available in your area! I look forward to reading about other kidlit friendly places! Enjoy!
- BOSTON: “Massachusetts: Where Imagination Comes to Life”, Boston Logan International Airport/Terminal C
On January 11, 2018, this new kidlit-inspired area opened to the public. I have not yet seen it, but some of the authors/artists included in the exhibit are Jeff Kinney, Jarrett Krosoczka and Grace Lin.
- BOSTON: Make Way for Ducklings Statues in the Boston Public Garden
Sculptor Nancy Schön has immortalized the beloved Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings,
Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack, from Robert McCloskey’s book,
Make Way for Ducklings. No visit to Boston is complete without stopping by to say hello.
- CAMBRIDGE: The Curious George Shop
Love Curious George? Then you’d better add this to your itinerary! I must
confess, this is one place that I have yet to visit myself, but it’s on the to-do
list! Located in famed Harvard Square, there will be plenty for you to do and
see here. How do you like them apples?
- DEDHAM: Blue Bunny Books and Toys/The Dot Central
This is the bookstore of author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds. In addition to a great
selection of children’s literature, you’ll find books and art autographed by Peter himself,
educational toys and stuffed animals. Be sure to soak up the ambiance with a tea or
coffee. Author/illustrator visits are common, so be sure to check their online calendar
ahead of time!
- PLAINVILLE: An Unlikely Story
Opened in 2015, Jeff Kinney and his wife, Julie, are the owners of this
bookstore and café. There are signed copies of Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid
series nestled in with books for all ages on the first floor. The second floor
serves as a meeting place for community events or bookish ones, and the
third floor is a workspace for the author. What I love about Jeff’s place, as well
as Peter’s, is that you never know when you might spot them checking in on
- SPRINGFIELD: The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum and the Dr. Seuss National
Memorial Sculpture Garden
A quadrangle of museums surrounds the life-size characters in the Dr. Seuss
National Memorial Sculpture Garden. Created by Seuss’ stepdaughter, Lark
Grey Dimond-Cates, the bronze statues have been here since 2002. Added to
the Springfield Museums in the fall of 2017, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss
Museum is a space that celebrates Springfield’s native son.
- SOUTH HADLEY: The Odyssey Bookshop
This two-story bookstore is set in a picturesque college town. The well-
cultivated children’s book section has autographed copies of books by local
and visiting authors/illustrators. During the holidays, the bookshop invites
several local kidlit creators in to hand-sell books they themselves love!
- AMHERST: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
No visit to Massachusetts is complete without a trip here! Two gigantic rooms
connected by a smaller space house permanent, rotating and visiting
exhibitions. Within the museum there is also a top-notch bookstore, a
children’s art studio, an auditorium for plays or visiting creative types, and an
amazing picture book library! MA educators receive free admission with their Massachusetts Teachers Association card, and can attend workshops or other programs offered by the museum. Recent guest speakers for the fall Educator Night have included Lois Lowry, Christian Robinson and David Wiesner.
- NORTHAMPTON: Broadside Bookshop
Broadside is a fun, crowded bookstore that fits in perfectly with the funky,
downtown area of Northampton. There are strong community ties with this
- NORTHAMPTON: Michelson Galleries
If you are looking to start or add to your personal art collection, might I
suggest peeking inside R. Michelson Galleries? There is an annual illustration
show featuring top talent in children’s literature, but if you miss it, there’s a
whole area inside the building devoted to over 60 well-loved illustrators. Just
ask and they’ll be glad to help you!
Addition Things to Do/Places to Visit in MA:
Boston Book Festival, October 13, 2018: https://bostonbookfest.org
Boston Public Library http://www.bpl.org
Wellesley Books http://www.wellesleybooks.com/
Porter Square Books http://www.portersquarebooks.com
Enchanted Passage, LLC https://www.enchantedpassage.com
Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (for fans of author, Thornton W. Burgess) https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/laughing-brook
*For more information about the influx of kidlit talent to Western Mass., please see this recent article from the Boston Globe: “How Western Mass. became kid’s lit. central”: https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2017/04/05/how-western-mass-became-kids-lit-central/8Mb4D8IGqEEkk6Lpc0bWxN/story.html)
Lesley Burnap is a 3rd grade general education teacher in Central Massachusetts. For most of these kidlit places she’s either traveling to the east or west of where she lives and hopes to have more in her own backyard someday. An avid fan of kidlit, you can find her on Twitter @auntierez or @lburnap90 (school account). She is grateful to Nerdy Pals, Melanie Roy and Wendy Garland, for suggestions and support.