Take your kids to locations where the books that they’re reading are set. From Sherlock’s London to Dan Brown’s Paris and Tolstoy’s Russia, they will see it’s not all a ﬁgment of the writer’s imagination.
Dressed in trench coat and armed with magnifying glasses, study places where Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson lived and breathed. The trail starts at 221b Baker Street, the famous home of the fictional detective, now the Sherlock Holmes Museum. You shouldn’t miss the chance to see a performance at the Royal Opera House where Holmes was a patron. Visit The Langham Hotel on Regent Street, known to have been frequented and mentioned by Sir Doyle in his stories. Move over to the British Museum where the astute detective often went for research. Another long surviving icon reminiscing Sherlock’s tales is St Bart’s Hospital.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
In the book, Elizabeth Bennet is a traveller too; she takes off with the Gardiners to see Derbyshire and gets reacquainted with Mr Darcy. Follow her to the beautiful estate of Chatsworth House in Bakewell—believed to be Jane Austen’s inspiration behind Mr Darcy’s residence, Pemberley. Stop for a cup of tea and scones at the 18th century Basildon Park in Berkshire which was Mr Bingley’s residence Netherfield in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. To get a glimpse into the life of Jane Austen, include in your itinerary her house in Chawton and Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire where she is buried. Austen spent many years in Bath (Persuasion and Northanger Abbey are set in Bath too)—the Jane Austen Centre is unmissable here.
THE DA VINCI CODE
Written in controversial ink, this Dan Brown novel drops you at the heart of Paris. Protagonist Robert Langdon is a guest at the palatial Parisian hotel The Ritz, and it is here that the hunt begins. The Louvre is on the wishlist of almost every tourist landing in the city of lights, but with The Da Vinci Code as your handbook, it will seem like a place of deep mystery and stellar artwork. Next comes Saint Sulpice Church—notice the plaque here that blatantly disregards the Rose Line and refutes the book’s claims.
WAR AND PEACE
Explore the world of this timeless Tolstoy classic. Take your kids to the English Embankment in St Petersburg and Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow. A must-visit on this literary tour is Leo Tolstoy’s ancestral home, Yasnaya Polyana that houses his personal collections and memorabilia. Look closely and you might be able to conjure the image of Tolstoy sitting in his study, weaving tales of Natasha and Nikolai. His house in Moscow, Tolstoy Memorial Estate in Khamovniki, sheds more light on his life. The recently-concluded BBC adaptation of War and Peace dazzled viewers with its stunning locations. In St Petersburg, find time for the 17th century Catherine Palace, State Hermitage Museum, and Yusupov Palace and see if they are as good in person as on camera.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird may be a work of fiction but it skilfully and innocuously captures the story of the deeply troubled America’s south. The book is based in an imaginary town in Alabama, but you can visit the author’s hometown Monroeville and take a tour of the Old Courthouse Museum—which safeguards the life and legacy of Lee. This small town has been performing To Kill A Mockingbird for more than 22 years, so schedule your trip in April or May to catch the annual drama. Countless fictional novels have been set in this region, and if you are familiar with The Help or Gone With The Wind, you can take a road trip to the southern states of Mississippi (location of Kathryn Stockett’s gripping novel), and Georgia (home of Scarlet O’Hara).
THE BOOK THIEF
Traversing through Nazi-era Europe with The Book Thief (or The Diary of Anne Frank) as your companion can be heart-wrenching and life-changing. Although not listed in the book, Germany has a lot of reminders of the unfateful persecution of Jews where you can take your kids for better understanding of how it all unfolded: The Munich City Museum; concentration camps including Dachau Camp Memorial, Buchenwald, and Bergen-Belsen (where Anne Frank died); Jewish Museum and Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin; and the Nazi Documentation Centre. Outside German borders, the ghastly Auschwitz Camp in Poland and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam continue to give people the chills.