One of the joys of being a parent is rediscovering all the great picture books I read as a child! In this list, I will take you to places inspired by the world's greatest kids picture books and stories! From museums dedicated to picture books, to some of the locations which inspired famous kids authors.
Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England was the inspiration for A.A. Milne's Hundred Acre Wood, the home of Winnie the Pooh and friends. In the forest you can find the original bridge where Pooh and Piglet played "Pooh Sticks" - you drop your stick over the side of the bridge and see which one arrives first on the other side! A few years ago, the number of visitors to the site caused problems and the bridge had to be renovated. You're recommended to bring along your own sticks, to avoid damage to the forest!
Chuck Hatch, Ashdown Forest, Hartfield Village, United Kingdom
Maurice Sendak was the famed author and illustrator of “Where the Wild Things Are”. Recently the Maurice Sendak Foundation agreed to donate the original art from his books to the University of Connecticut's Northeast Children's Literature Collection. The collection also houses material from other kids' authors like Richard Scarry, and over 450 different editions of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
369 Fairfield Way, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
In Boston Public Garden you'll find a bronze statue by Nancy Schön of a mother duck being followed by baby ducklings. The Public Garden is the setting for "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey, a story about two mallards who raise their family on an island within the park.More details
Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, founded the Eric Carle Museum in 2002. Located in Amherst, MA, about 90 minutes west of Boston, the museum houses not just artwork by Carle, but exhibitions celebrating all children's picture books and other artists like Maurice Sendak and Mo Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus)More details
In the beautiful Lake District in northern England, this attraction is based around the books of Beatrix Potter and characters like Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck. You can find out more about Beatrix's Potter's life, explore Peter Rabbit's Garden, and of course take home a Mrs Tiggy-winkle from the gift shop...
Crag Brow, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom
Ted Geisel, better known as Dr Seuss, was a native of Springfield, Massachusets, and the city is now home to the "Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum". The museum includes games and climbable statues of characters from Dr Seuss's books including Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The “Cat in the Hat".
21 Edwards Street, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
The story goes that when the Reverend WV Awdry was looking for a location to base his "Thomas the Tank Engine" books, a visit to the Isle of Man provided the inspiration. The Christan Diocese which covers the island is for historical reasons called "The Diocese of Sodor and Man". Noting the absence of an island called Sodor, Awdry concocted an imaginary island of the coast of England large enough to host a series of train lines for Thomas and friends.
Isle of Man
The Kinderboekenmuseum in The Hague, Netherlands, is designed to stimulate the imagination of kids, featuring famous Dutch characters like Miffy. Inside there are different play areas based around different books.
Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 5, Den Haag, Netherlands
The Little Prince was first published in 1943, by the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry but the timeless tale is popular around the world, especially in Japan. In Hakone, Japan there is a museum dedicated to the world of the Little Prince, including statues of the asteroid, Lamplighter Square, and a sculpture of the Little Prince himself.
909 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarshimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Possum Magic is one of Australia's best loved children's picture books, and this year Sydney's Monkey Baa Theatre is bringing it to the stage with an Australia-wide tour. Mem Fox's book tells the story of two possums named Grandma Poss and Hush, but is really a love letter to the varied landscapes of Australia.
ARA Darling Quarter Theatre, Terrace 3, 1-25 Harbour Street, Sydney, Australia
A popular Japanese kids book is 100万回生きたねこ (The Cat Who Lived a Million Times) about an arrogant cat who is repeatedly reincarnated. The Art Museum in Yamanashi has an exhibition dedicated to the art of author Yoko Sano. The story explains some of Buddhist philosophy in a way which appeals to kids and adults alike.
1-4-27 Kugawa, Kofu, Yamanashi, Japan
Any Padddington fan will know that the bear got his name from seeing a sign at Paddington station in London. Today there's a life-sized bronze statue of Paddington in the station designed by the sculptor Marcus Cornish. You can also pick up a free leaflet called the "Pawprint trail" to discover more of the area.
Praed Street, Paddington, London, United Kingdom
The Snowman is a well loved picture book written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs. Telling the story of a snowman who comes to life, the TV adaptation makes for traditional Christmas time viewing in the UK. As the snowman and his human friend fly into the air to the sound of "Walking in the Air", you get a whistle-stop tour of the South of England, flying over the Downs, and Brighton's famous Palace Pier and Royal Pavilion. The Pavilion is a major landmark in Brighton, built for the Prince Regent (later George IV) as a seaside retreat in a Indo-Saracenic style.
4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton, United Kingdom