I was nine years old the first time I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When I finished the book, I put it down, walked over to my bedroom closet and marched inside, determined to find the secret doorway to Narnia.
I can report that after sitting in there patiently for 20 minutes, nothing happened.
That didn't stop me from taking many more fictional vacations, though: to Oz, Wonderland, Middle Earth, Arrakis, and whatever that cool place was where The Phantom Tollbooth transported me.
Kids may be a little disappointed to discover that their favorite exotic literary locales are imaginary, but that doesn't make the journeys to those places any less thrilling—or important.
Many of our first literary journeys let us travel beyond the limits of the everyday world and explore fantastical, faraway settings. Those wondrous, immersive trips not only set children on the path to become lifelong readers, but nurture their creativity and imagination; which in turn enables them to be better creators, investigators, and problem solvers.
Students may not be doing a lot of traveling this summer, but we can help them take virtual vacations that allow them to connect with old (or soon to be) favorite books and films, and look at some of these settings in a wonderfully realistic and humorous way.
Check out this activity, "Wish You Were Here!: Postcards from the Imagination," in which students turn their favorite fictional settings—even foreboding ones—into popular tourist attractions. Visit Wonderland and book a celebrity croquet game with the Queen of Hearts! Take a four-day tour of the Death Star and have your picture taken with a stormtrooper! And if you visit Mordor, be sure to go in the spring: it's the perfect time to see the afternoon light catch the glow of Sauron's eye at the top of his Dark Tower!
Whether you let students choose their own adventure, or pick a new book and destination for them which they might not have considered on their own (Howl's Moving Castle? The Land of Pern? Discworld?), you can play a key role in helping your students map out new worlds and become more active, creative thinkers.