One segment of our past summer of road trips was a quick visit to Niagara Falls. Prepping for our trip up, I picked out two books that I thought would be fun introductions of the falls and great souvenirs to help the kids remember their trip in the future.
Children’s books about Niagara Falls
1. Ready to Read, Level 1: Niagara Falls
written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by John Wallace
The Ready to Read books have a series called “The Wonders of America“. They showcase America’s famous natural sites in small doses for young readers. The simple style made it both easy to read and easy for kids to understand. But, don’t underestimate that statement. They still provide a ton of information about the site.
The Niagara Falls book starts with a history/geography and geology lesson. We learn that the making of the falls did not happen overnight and that it took, in fact, many years. The illustrations show us both where Niagara Falls is and what it could have looked like before the falls became falls.
The word “Niagara” comes from the Seneca Indian word for “thunder of the waters” which is understandable once kids learn how much water goes over the falls every second.
Then we get to the recent history of the falls. It is the first tourist attraction of North America. They outline the different sections of the falls. We learn about some of the people who became famous because of their successful (or unsuccessful) stunts performed here. And a reminder that dangerous activity is now illegal at the falls.
To finish it off there are some interesting bullet-points about Niagara Falls.
Overall the Read to Read Niagara Falls is the perfect entry level book for young visitors. The information is presented simply, for kids to be able to both read and understand, but with enough details that they’ll familiar with the destination and history when they get there.
Neither of my kids read when we were at Niagara Falls, but the pictures kept them interested both before we got there, and for the rest of the trip. The book stays on our bookshelf where my son likes to reach for it as his reading improves.
You can buy the book as part of The Wonders of America series on Amazon. The box set also includes books about the Grand Canyon, The Rocky Mountains, The Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone.
2. Geronimo Stilton, Field Trip to Niagara Falls
Unlike the book above, this is a chapter book that follows a storyline. Geronimo Stilton chaperones a group of students on a field trip to Niagara Falls. His many missteps entertained my kids. They had no problem paying attention to the longer story. What I loved were all the informative facts that gave us even more insight into the falls. Yes, Niagara Falls is the setting and we learn while Geronimo and the class travel around it, but the callouts help us learn more.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Travel Journal Lessons. The prompts are quick and fun. The assignment is for the kids. Perfect. And of course I’m going to appreciate anything that stresses the importance of travel journaling.
- Maps. There are maps of North America to show where Niagara Falls is in the world, and a street map of Niagara Falls to use when you get there.
- History Lessons. As with the book above, we learn history. But this is more detailed (but still age appropriate) lessons of who the first visitors were to the falls, people who became famous because of the falls, about the Native Americans who lived there, and more.
- Camping. Since the class goes camping, this book shares many interesting camping-specific tutorials.
- Attractions and more. Geronimo learns more about the specific sights to visit at the falls (which help get kids prepared for itinerary-planning), plus about the animals and plants around this region of the world.
For those unfamiliar with Geronimo Stilton books, they do take a little adjusting. This was my first book from the series and I wasn’t expecting the level of repetition in storytelling, crazy fonts and colors, and wackiness throughout the book. It’s also important to know that there are a lot of mouse-puns. Also, I began to feel bad for Geronimo. He was tricked into purchasing 24 round trip airline tickets, he got pushed aside on the bus and couldn’t see the falls, he had to pay for 24 camping kids, set up the bathrooms, and more. Poor guy.
All those little things, though, my kids loved. It was the book they kept reaching for and looking at both before our trip and after we left. They still look at it and recognize Geronimo Stilton books whenever we see them.
You can buy the book on Amazon. It’s also available as an audio book via the Epic! App, which is a children’s book app available for a free trial month and then $5 a month afterwards. (Sign up now and read FREE for 30 days!)
Tips for a Family Trip to Niagara Falls
This is my second time visiting Niagara Falls. I love waterfalls and hope to return again and again.
There are plenty of opportunities to get up-close and personal with the falls. We opted to do the “Journey Behind the Falls” tour. This tour is also available as part of The Niagara Falls Wonder Package that includes other can’t miss sites (which, yes, we did miss – but that’s why we need to go back!)
They gave us a yellow poncho to protect our clothes from the mist. I have since learned that these are only given out in the spring and summer. An elevator then whisked us down 150 feet to the tunnels. Each tunnel took us to a different section behind the falls, or to the observation decks. My son, who was 5 at the time, loved the majesty of it all and took tons of photos with his own camera. My 3-year-old daughter, however, didn’t like the fashion-unfriendly poncho and the loudness of the falls. Fortunately, the tunnels were filled with information I could read about the history of the site, and kept my daughter away from the noise and the wetness.
My absolutely favorite part of this trip was late at night when we got there. We were getting ready to watch the light show, sitting on a grassy area, eating a very late dinner from Tim Horton’s. It was busy, but the business was away from us. My son, who had spent the whole day taking pictures, turns to me and says “you really want to show us the world, don’t you mama?” Why, yes, yes I do son. Aside from making my heart melt, it also made me want to make sure we did other amazing things during our road trip.
Niagara Falls Accommodation
We stayed at the DoubleTree Niagara Falls . The downtown Niagara Falls location makes it easy to access the many restaurants, shops, and activities. While our room had a view of downtown, we weren’t able to see the falls. We knew that before we booked, so there was no disappointment. Especially since the price of this hotel better fit our budget.
The DoubleTree Niagara Falls also has an indoor pool, which has become a must-have for our family trips. It’s about a 15-minute walk to get to the base of the falls or Table Rock Welcome Center (which is where the Journey Behind the Falls tour is.).
Other Niagara Falls tips
- We visited Whirlpool State Park in New York on our first trip to Niagara Falls. The perfect spot for a picnic. Plus, it’s far from the touristy crowds at Niagara.
- The Whirlpool State Park, as well as some of the most popular sites on both the New York and Canada sides of Niagara Falls, are part of a deluxe sightseeing tour from Viator.
- The Niagara Falls Incline Railway is a fun for lazy folks. Or anyone who doesn’t want to walk from the top of the hill to the bottom and back. It takes visitors between the downtown area and the Table Rock Welcome Center.
- The Marriott or the Embassy Suites have rooms with views of the falls.
- If you want to make a longer vacation of your trip to Niagara Falls, consider the Great Wolf Lodge. While not in the touristy hub, it provides easy access and lots of fun activities within the hotel.
- Other children’s books to consider about Niagara Falls include the Wild Water Mystery at Niagara Falls and Over the Edge, A Kid’s Guide to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
- Interested in learning more about the Seneca Indians? Read this fictionalized story based on the true story of Mary Jemison who was kidnapped as a child and raised as a Seneca Indian in the mid-1700s is a good read. Indian Captive was the Newberry Honor recipient in 1942.
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