My husband and I rarely go away without our kids, the occasional overnight to attend a wedding or reunion. But last summer we took two nights in the Catskills, which was amazing, and made me realize how important it is for us to connect (meaning have a conversation that isn’t interrupted 15 times, watch a show not on Disney channel, or enjoy a meal where we don’t have to cut someones food into bite sized pieces – mind out of the gutter people!). So this year we have a pretty big anniversary (please feel free to send crystal). We decided to take a trip together to mark the occasion. Actually I said “Honey, I’m going on a trip for our 15th wedding anniversary. Please feel free to join me if you’d like, but either way I”m going away without the kids”. He wisely chose to come with me.
So where to go? As with any trip time, cost, and childcare are major considerations. I selfishly like quantity of vacations, so we were planning our trip, but budgeting for a family trip later in the summer, too. This ruled out Scotland and Morocco (my choices), and Norway (my husbands recent fascination – the poor man has been subjected to Frozen one time too many). We tossed around US Virgin Islands, and domestic locations from Key West to Charleston. Since my in-laws (bless them) are taking our kids for the entire week (did I mention bless them?) we were checking flights out of NYC, Hartford and Boston, calculating car rental and scouring hotel options. Then my parents offered to help us secure rooms in Vegas, as they visit there several times a year and had access to some great deals. Deals that were tough to pass up when looking at the financial crunch of this trip. So…We’re going to Vegas, baby!
At first thought Vegas isn’t a destination that comes to mind when I think of “kid-friendly” vacations, one of the reasons it was so appealing for our anniversary get-away. However, in recent years there has been a definite push to make it a more family oriented vacation locale. “The Strip” has a themed hotel for every interest, a diverse “world tour” at your disposal. And there are great books that can connect to all these locations. I created this list of kid reads, and adult counterparts, for my (and your) next trip to the Vegas Strip. You can check out location specific kid-reads on the Locations: Las Vegas page or Mom’s Bookshelf: Las Vegas if you want a Sin City themed grown-up read. “TheVegas Strip” booklist below touches on select hotel resorts and complementary reads to enhance your experience.
Start at the south end of the Strip at the Luxor. It’s pyramid shape evokes the mystery and wonder of an ancient pharaoh’s tomb. Kids will enjoy reading from the Locations: Egypt page. For a beach read mystery grown-ups should try Crocodile on the Sandbank, the first book in the Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters. If a more literary historical novel is what you are looking for try The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer, an imagining of the friendship of Florence Nightingale’s and Gustave Flaubert, who both traveled down the Nile in 1850.
Make your way north to the Excalibur, and enter the age of knights and ladies. The Castle in the Attic (MR-4) by Elizabeth Winthrop is a classic for middle readers. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is an adult retelling of the Arthurian legend from the point of view of the women at the heart of the tale, divulging their true influence and power over the legendary knights.
New York New York is a mini Big Apple! Check out the New York City kid lit on Locations: New York. To indulge in a more scandalous poolside read adults can check out Candice Bushnell’s newest book One Fifth Avenue. For a comprehensive historical immersion delve into Edward Rutherford’s New York: The Novel, a breathtaking historical-fiction saga that spans centuries.
The iconic Eiffel Tower marks the Paris Las Vegas. Kids can read up on favorites like Madeline or make new friends on the Locations: Paris page. Grown-ups can embrace the 20’s literary ex-pat life with The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, putting you right in the center of the tumultuous life of Hemingway and his first wife during their time in Paris. Looking for the novel that covers the history of Paris in-depth? Edward Rutherford does it again with his newest tome Paris: The Novel.
The Flamingo is the oldest resort on the Strip still in operation, a throwback to the days when gangsters ruled Vegas and Hollywood glamour reigned supreme. Kids will enjoy Sylvie (PB) by Jennifer Sattler, about a curious flamingo that discovers her pink color comes from what she eats and experiments eating different things. Flamingo Moon by Carolyn Holm is a poolside guilty pleasure read about mothers, daughters, growing up and discovering your true self.
Caesars Palace has the glory and pageantry of the Roman Empire. Young readers can travel with Jack and Annie in the Magic Treehouse Series #13, Vacation Under the Volcano and explore the non-fiction companion Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #14: Ancient Rome and Pompeii (ER-1). Colleen McCullough’s riveting tale of the women at the mercy of Caesar’s power is recounted in the adult read Caesar’s Women.
Flash forward in Italian history and cross the Strip to The Venetian where kids can solve a mystery and learn about Venice in Geronimo Stilton’s The Mystery in Venice (ER-3). After a gondola ride take a look at the riveting life of The Midwife of Venice in Roberta Rich’s tale of a Jewish midwife in 17th century Venice.
Swashbuckling pirates take to the high seas at Treasure Island. Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting (PB) is an endearing tale of a mother’s enduring love. How I Became a Pirate (PB) is the story of a boy plucked from the beach and thrust into the world of pirates, as long as he’s back in time for soccer practice. A charming story by Melinda Long. Don’t forget that Princesses Can Be Pirates Too! as this picture book by Christi Zellerhoff reminds us! For older readers try the classic Treasure Island (MR) by Robert Louis Stevenson. For the story before the story adult readers can check out Flint and Silver: A Prequel to Treasure Island by John Drake.
At the north end of the Strip join in the fun at Circus Circus! Add to the entertainment with Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (PB). When all the performers are out sick with ear infections it is up to Olivia to take over, luckily she knows how to do it all in true Olivia style! Kate Klise’s charming story of Sir Sidney’s Circus kicks off the Three-Ring Rascals series with The Show Must Go On! (ER-3). Adults can delve into a mature take on the circus in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.