Find Your Escape

One of the best things about being a reader is that even after we close the pages of a book, we don’t have to leave the world we’ve just been in. I’ve always loved mysteries, so growing up, I would spend afternoons concocting my very own whodunnits to solve in the backyard — or I’d go to the library and get lost in the world of computer games like Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? and Nancy Drew Detective.

Reading the Narnia series, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if I were the Queen of Narnia — what I would be called, what sort of weapons I’d use and of course, what my crown would look like. In high school, my friends and I assigned Harry Potter characters to everyone in our homeroom, as well as, to all of the teachers. Even now, as an adult, I have a (mild) obsession with taking personality quizzes to find out things like which Jane Austen heroine I actually am.

Fortunately, the internet has an abundance of ways for us to stay involved with our favorite books, movies and television shows — even once we’ve returned our library books (or finished all seven seasons). Here’s a short list of some of my all-time favorite book/fandom-related websites and activities for kids and their families.

In this online version of the books, you can search for clues and fight the Vespers along with Amy and Dan. The game does require you to create an account (so, you might need to get an adult) but then you’ll have access to activities for several different book series, including Dog Man, The Bad Guys, Whatever After, Goosebumps and I Survived.

Although not strictly related to a book or book series, National Geographic’s personality quizzes cover a wide variety of topics. Try taking some of these with your whole family and see how you compare. (In case you’re curious, according to the cute baby animals quiz, I’m an orangutan.)

This website has quizzes based on all of Rick Riordan’s book series. Try your hand at Egyptology trivia, identify the quotation or find out which Greek god you might be descended from.

Now, I’m a little biased — my cat is named Lemony Snickcat, after all. — but I really enjoyed doing all activities on Lemony Snicket’s website. Whether you fancy word games, brain teasers or puzzles, this site has it all.

If you’re fans of Mo Willem’s characters Elephant, Piggie and Pigeon, then you have to check out his Pals Page (it’s my personal favorite) — you can discover interesting trivia like their birthday, best friend, favorite color or food they like best. And there are tons of exciting hands-on activities for everyone to enjoy. You can also find “mo” activities at The Kennedy Center, where the author/illustrator is the Artist-in-Residence. Willem’s latest project, #MoLunchDoodles, launched as the pandemic shuttered schools across the nation. With millions of learners attempting to grow and educate themselves in these new, unfamiliar circumstances, he decided to invite them into his studio to doodle — a collaboration, exploring ways of drawing and writing — and people of all ages joined in, including other well-known authors and illustrators. You’ll also find past episodes and activities on the website. Let the doodling continue.

Remember how I mentioned that I used to love playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The creators of the new Carmen Sandiego TV show teamed up with Google Earth to make an online game that captures all of the geographical and mystery-solving elements of the original game.

Hopefully you and your family can find some escape with these activities. Maybe you’ll spark your child’s imagination or start a family tradition. Perhaps you should try knocking on the back of your closet just to see what happens — you never know when a magical world will appear. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to explore a few Latin-American countries to see where Carmen Sandiego is hiding.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Carmen Sandiego: the Fishy Treasure Caper
The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
I Survived: True Stories Five Epic Disasters
Goosebumps: Wanted the Haunted Mask by R.L. Stine
Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems
The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

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