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Step Into Books at ‘Storyland’ Exhibit

The new Please Touch Museum exhibit features some of the most beloved stories, including "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and "The Snowy Day."

You and your kids know the stories by heart. Now, you can experience them in person, at the Please Touch Museum’s new “Storyland: A Trip Through Childhood Favorites” exhibit.


The traveling exhibit, which runs at the Philadelphia children’s museum from June 3 to September 10, is focused on building literacy in young children. But it does that in an innovative way, bringing kids inside some of their favorite tales, including If You Give a Mouse a CookieThe Snowy Day, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.


Visitors can help tuck Peter Rabbit into bed, crunch through the snow like Peter from Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved book, devise their own cookie recipe, and even sort letters on a conveyor belt that heads up the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom  palm tree. As they’re doing it, they’re reading directions — or having them read to them — and getting the chance to translate the familiar stories into their own experience.


The exhibit, designed by the Minnesota Children’s Museum, is in English and Spanish, offering the museum a chance to develop some bilingual programming, said Jennifer Kalter, the education director at the Please Touch Museum. Bilingual storytimes will be part of the activities around “Storyland,” she said, and it’s a great opportunity for families to introduce additional language and vocabulary skills to kids.


Summer is the perfect time for this exhibit, Kalter said, because it’s basically a sneaky way to keep kids reading while school is out. Each area of the exhibit asks kids to read and follow instructions, a key component of building early literacy into true reading fluency. Even for children who aren’t yet reading, the exhibit’s prompts can help parents and kids connect.


For example, Kalter said, visitors can “look out” Peter’s window at the snow. The prompt asks children what they see, and that’s the chance to engage with a child, she said, and let both of your imaginations run wild.


Other activities, including matching beanbags marked with letters into labeled holes or making noises inside the frog swamp of Tuesday, bring the imaginary world of a book to life.


“It solidifies it in many ways, for them to physically experience it,” Kalter said.


The museum’s weekend summer storytimes are centered around the books featured in the exhibit. If You give a Mouse a Cookie will be featured on June 10 and 11; The Tale of Peter Rabbit on July 8 and 9; and Where’s Spot? on August 12 and 13. (Click here for the museum’s schedule of activities.)


Target is the national sponsor for “Storyland,” and the local sponsor is PECO. Whole Foods Market is offering additional support, providing snacks at the summer’s special members-only early openings, from 9 to 11 am. The first of those events is Sunday, June 4.


Admission to the exhibit is included with regular admission to the museum. The Please Touch Museum is at 4231 Avenue of the Republic in Philadelphia. It’s open from 9 am — 5 pm Monday through Saturday, and from 11 am — 5 pm on Sunday.


Photographs by Gwyneth K. Shaw. 






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