This post has been sponsored by Disney Book Group. All opinions are 100% mine.
“Mom, we should totally go on this road trip!”
In April, my son discovered a 30 day “ultimate” U.S. road trip on Facebook and wanted to do it THIS summer.
“Hey buddy, that sounds cool but I'm not sure if it's do-able.”
A thousand requests from him and two months later, we set out from our home in California on the most epic road trip of a lifetime. 31 days. 21 states. Millions of memories.
Before school ended, his teachers tasked me with a huge challenge: help him improve his reading skills before entering middle school in the fall.
Engaging him in reading was one thing … but to help him improve while driving thousands of miles in the car, just the two of us …
I thought: impossible.
Until I received the box set of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. He immediately started reading the books over the summer, finishing books one through three before we hit the road.
With two books left in the series, I wasn't sure how we'd keep him engaged. Reading in the car puts me to sleep!
I'd have to figure out a way to tie reading into the trip. When a friend we were visiting mentioned that we should see a really cool mythology exhibit at their local museum, I knew. Bingo!
Reading the series would be so much more fun if we explored Greek mythology and art during our trip. Plus, this would give him a push to read through the series as we drove all across the land.
How to find museums with Greek art or Greek mythology exhibits
The first step to planning out our Greek mythology journey was to overlay it onto our travel plans.
We had to find museums and experiences in the cities we were already planning to visit. I involved my son in the planning by allowing him to map out each location.
First, we did internet searches. I typed in the name of the city and “Greek exhibit” or “Greek art museum”.
We found some interesting places to visit …
But the best results came from asking friends in each city and on social media for their recommendations in their cities.
Two options stood out from the rest and we planned our Percy Jackson & the Olympians reading activities around these two exhibits.
Mythic Creatures at COSI
The limited time “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids” exhibit at Columbus Ohio's Center of Science and Industry (COSI) included creatures from Greek mythology as well as from cultures around the globe.
Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in collaboration with the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney; Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau-Quebec; Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta; and the Field Museum, Chicago … including items from all over the world!
Matthew carried his books around the exhibit to reference while we checked out each section, from the giant squid to cyclops and more.
One of Matthew's favorite characters from the books, Grover, is a satyr, the mythical creature that is half goat and half man. Grover was instrumental in helping Percy reach Camp Half-Blood. Grover had many adventures throughout the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, serving as a solid repeat character. His adventurous spirit made him one of the most memorable and exciting characters in Matthew's opinion.
After our visit to Columbus, Ohio, we drove on up to Chicago. We purchased a CityPass, one ticket that allows you access to multiple attractions over a few days. One of the attractions was the Art Institute of Chicago.
Art Institute of Chicago
We knew there was Greek art at the Art Institute … but The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art surprised us with so many amazing pieces that called back to characters in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians books and classic Greek mythology.
This bust of Athena was one of our favorite pieces. It's hard to imagine how old all of these pieces actually are!
Make memories and learn by adding reading to your road trip
Tying in reading to a physical experience makes it that much more realistic and concrete for kids to understand. Visiting museums to make connections between books and art is a great way to make reading more engaging.
My son had so much fun on this road trip as a whole … but also in connecting with concrete examples of Greek mythology that were mentioned in his favorite book series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians.
Now that my son has finished Book 5: The Last Olympian, the final book in the series, he wants to go to New York and San Francisco to explore more places mentioned in the books, just like Percy Jackson did. Road trip, anyone?
Find out more about Percy Jackson & the Olympians by visiting ReadRiordan.com.