For most kids, summer means a break from reading to learn. But before the school bell rings, by visiting a few local areas, kids can read and learn while they think they’re just having fun. Follow in the footsteps of your favorite characters by visiting Chicago attractions that bring books alive before your very eyes.
The Wright 3 by Blue Balliet
Tour at the Robie House, Hyde Park
When their sixth-grade teacher explains that a historic yet neglected local home, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, risks falling into total disrepair, Calder, Petra and Tommy feel compelled to act. The trio puts their unique talents to work, discovering the secrets held by the house and uncovering important clues toward finding a mysterious buried artifact along the way.
Read the book and then head over to the real-life Robie House to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius in person and make some of your own discoveries. Designed in 1908, it’s considered one of the most important houses in the history of American architecture. Every Saturday at 1:45 p.m., parents and children age 6 and older can take part in the upbeat Wright 3 Tour, a 45-minute tour highlighting scenes and locations featured in the book.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Oz Park, Lincoln Park
Did you know the tale of Dorothy and her journey to see a magical wizard was spun by L. Frank Baum right here in Chicago? The Baum family moved from South Dakota to Chicago’s Humboldt Park in 1891. While here, Baum made his living as a newspaper reporter, a department store window dresser and a traveling chinaware salesman. Legend has it that one blustery Chicago winter day, he bumped into a group of his children and their friends on the street and they begged him to entertain them. He rewarded them with the story of a young Kansas girl who was whisked away by a cyclone to a magical land.
Today, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Dorothy and her little dog Toto all reside at Chicago’s very own Oz Park, on the corner of Webster and Larabee streets on the city’s near North Side. Head to the four corners of the park and search for the Oz five. Climb on the wooden Emerald City and swing on the tire in Dorothy’s Playlot.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry
The exhibit, running through Sept. 27, features more than 200 authentic costumes and props from the movie offshoots of the book series. You’ll start your journey with the sorting hat—volunteer to discover which Hogwart’s house you’ve been assigned—then step into the imaginative world dreamed up by author J.K. Rowling. Get a firsthand look at flying broomsticks and the fancy feast at the Grand Hall banquet. Your child’s reading will literally come alive as they step into the giant Hagrid’s hut and try their hand at quidditch.
The exhibition won’t be as much fun if you haven’t read the books. Don’t forget, even pre- and beginning readers will enjoy listening to you read the first couple of books aloud to them; by the time you’re finished, they may be inspired to tackle their first chapter book and finish the series on their own.
Tickets are $26 for adults; $25 for seniors and $19 for children age 3-11 during the day. In the evening after the museum closes, tickets are $18 for adults and seniors and $15 for children, age 3-11.