I don’t always buy a souvenir on vacations, but when I do it’s not at a hotel gift shop. Except this time.Here's my story of when I started collecting Kid's Travel Books! Click To Tweet
For our third wedding anniversary, we visited my husband’s family’s home state – Michigan. We spent a few nights catching up with cousins and walking around Kalamazoo. It was my first time in that town. There was something about it, though. Places I’ve never seen before felt like our old stomping grounds. It was all so familiar. It fit like a glove – or, rather, a mitten.
While my husband checked out of our room, I stopped at the hotel’s gift shop. There was a book there, a children’s book, The Legend of Michigan. I picked it up, flipped through it, and put it back. I looked at other things with the words “Michigan” or “Kalamazoo” written on them and then left. But, as I walked to my husband, this book pushed it’s way back to the front of my mind.
He wasn’t done checking out yet. Maybe there was an issue they were having, or maybe it was just the friendly reception chatting away, but they took a second longer than I expected. And in that second I thought the following:
I want to get that kids book. But, I don’t have kids. I don’t need that book. But, I want that book. One day, we’ll have kids. One day, those kids will want to know about where their father’s from. Where their grandparents are from. Their heritage. And it’s, like, the LEGEND of Michigan. And, I didn’t really get anything else to remember our third anniversary. And it was a great trip. And I really like Kalamazoo. If I don’t buy it I’ll want to come back and I already know I want to come back. If I don’t buy it, I’ll regret it. It’s only a book. Why am I making such a big deal about this, just get it.
Then I decided not to get it and forever regretted it and I made this website to make sure that never happens to anyone ever again. The End.
I made eye contact with my husband, did the universal sign for “I’m going back to the store to buy something I don’t need,” and turned around before he had a chance to give me the universal sign for, “why are you buying something at the hotel gift shop?”
We brought that book with us to Chicago, caught a plane, and flew back to Florida. A year later we packed that book up to bring with us on our move to Germany. And a few months later our first child was born.
Sometime around my son’s second birthday I grew tired of the book selection in our home.
Here’s the reality of the Legend of Michigan. I did not buy it because I liked the cover. I did not buy it because I liked the story. I’m pretty sure I bought it because I was in the mood to spend money. Because I never particularly loved the cover, I never actually read this book.
But, this day I was desperate. Buying new kids books in English in another country is not as easy as hopping over to the nearest Target. I had no other option. I read the book.
It dragged for me. I said the words out loud to my son, but I had no idea what was happening. I was just talking. The only thing I remember about my first reading is that the book was ridiculously long. And it was probably about Michigan. At some point in the story, though, my brain started to pay attention.
Towards the last quarter of the book, I was hooked. The ending left me with that warmth and comfort that my trip to Kalamazoo had left me with years ago. I immediately started reading it again to see what I missed and I fell in love with the story.
I’ve always loved to travel. I’ve always loved to read. I always knew both things would be a part of my kids’ lives. There are so many books out there that introduce kids to a new place, connect their story with their heritage, or remind them of past experiences. Some of them do all three at the same time.
Not every book about a place is as beautifully woven together as the Legend of Michigan, but if they help to convince a reader to travel more or a traveler to read more, then job done.