Did you know that many public libraries in the United States provide free entry passes to museums? And museums can be fine respites when summer temperatures soar or storms threaten to keep us indoors and antsy to get out and about.
To get your family primed for your next science, natural history, art, or even local culture museum, we have a tidy shelf of picture-rich books to engage readers of all ages:
What On Earth Books has been working with museums in both the United Kingdom and the United States to create accurate and engaging timelines and picture books for older readers that can almost serve as stay-at-home museum visits. Explore the 10,000+ years of North American history, in North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History, by Sarah Albee and illustrated by William Exley, published in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute, itself a collection of museums sometimes called “America’s attic.” In North America, indigenous cultures get both the first and last places along the chronology and all that’s needed is about six feet of open floor space to stretch out the gate-folded pages to see everything in between.
With the American Museum of Natural History, What On Earth has developed three more timeline volumes: The Nature Timeline Wallbook; The Science Timeline Wallbook; and The Big History Timeline Wallbook. And yes, you’ll need and want lots of wall space on which to display these chronologies, and be glad for the magnifying glass packaged with them so you can catch all the details in the image descriptions.
From Tilbury House Publishers, a brand new picture book biography, developed in association with the Concord Museum, Monument Maker written by Linda Booth Sweeney and illustrated by Shawn Fields, introduces us to the 19th century sculptor Daniel Chester French who created the enormous Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Both the artistic vision and engineering requirements of the memorial are detailed in beautiful soft pencil pages, making this volume another little paper museum in and of itself.
Tilbury House also publishes a delightful series of picture books to introduce the youngest of art museum visitors to the stylistic details of a vast array of world-renowned artists. With text by Amy Newbold and illustrations by Greg Newbold, If Picasso Painted a Snowman and If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur each hit the sweet spot between fact and fantasy that make for memorable knowledge acquisition. The artists included are from a variety of chapters in art history and from every part of the world, including Mexico, Japan, and, of course, Europe.
Not sure whether free museum passes are part of your community library’s collection? Check the online catalog and then call and ask! Programs in California and Massachusetts, as well as New York City have created models for other locations to make this a viable local service.