'Storyland' takes children inside award-winning picture books

The "Abuela" section in the Minnesota Children's Museum Storyland Exhibit. (photo by David Kern)

Most kids dream of their favorite storybook characters coming to life. Now, perhaps they will, in the new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, “Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites.” The immersive experience highlights seven beloved children’s books in an interactive journey for kids and their grownup companions, on view through May 30. Karen Kelly, director of exhibits and education at the Children’s Museum, joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to share some of the features of the new experience. 

“It is such an exciting journey through these children’s book favorites. It’s immersive, it’s fun, and even more importantly, the underlying learning and messages under it are terrific,” said Kelly. “It’s all about kids learning about reading and language and building those skills.” 

Primarily focused on promoting kids’ literacy and language growth, the experience encourages interaction, exploration, and conversation with unique environments for younger and older kids and their grownups. “You can sit and listen to mom read a board book,” said Kelly. “There is a toddler space, always, for kids, smaller children to engage in when you’re little. For older children, there’s lots of fun and engaging role play in the exhibit where you can actually crawl into Peter Rabbit’s tree and be in his house with his bed and read a story to your sister, brother, and sister rabbits.”

She continued, “For the book of ‘Snowy Day,’ you can walk in the snow – not real snow, obviously – and feel your feet crunch.”

Another featured kids’ favorite, the alphabet-learning board book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” comes to life in the “Storyland” exhibit. “There’s this wonderful tree where you match a capital letter to a lowercase letter, and then the letters go up the tree, and at the top, they come tumbling down just like in the book,” said Kelly. 

The seven chosen works of children’s literature feature diverse authors, with the exhibit’s content offered in both Spanish and English. One section features “Abuela,” a story by Arthur Dorros, which contains both languages, helping teach English-speaking children Spanish phrases, and English phrases to Spanish speakers. “Abuela takes her granddaughter Rosalba on this imaginary journey where they are flying over New York City,” Kelly described. “So if you look up, you can see Abuela and Rosalba flying above your head, surrounded by clouds.”

“Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites” is on view now through May 30 at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta. The Children’s Museum offers two sessions per day at limited capacity to keep visitors safe. Masks are required for ages two and up. More information and tickets are available here.