Updated: Sep 7, 2022
There are some great places across the UK that could just be the spark to set the reading fire alight.
These places are associated with famous children’s books and authors. Some popular with younger readers and others with older . You could read or promote the book first, then go and make connections with the place. Or you could just as easily do things the other way round by visiting the place in order to inspire an interest in the book or the characters in the book – whichever grabs your child’s interest.
In no particular order:
There are at least 15 Gruffalo Trails across the UK.
Julia Donaldson books mostly illustrated by Axel Scheffler are widely popular, appealing to many younger readers, in particular. Click the link to forestry England for further information.
Alice in Wonderland
The story of Alice, the little girl lost down a rabbit hole in a weird, magical world, continues to enthral children. The New Forest has strong links to the original stories by Lewis Carroll, who based the hero on a girl who lived at Lyndhurst in this beautiful ancient woodland. There’s an Alice exhibition at the National Park’s visitor centre, and Lyndhurst is the perfect place for a Mad Hatter’s tea party picnic!
There's also the adventure park with a wonderland theme. Click here
Follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps
Alnwick Castle (above) is still basking in the glory of its starring role as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter book-turned-movie mega-franchise.
Visit the striking Northumberland fortress for broomstick training and activities inspired by the boy wizard.
North of the border, Scotland offers a full-on Potter tour. From Fort William you can visit Glenfinnan Viaduct (the Hogwarts Express route that Ron and Harry accidently drive along in The Chamber of Secrets); Loch Eilt, which houses Dumbledore’s grave on the island of Eilean na Moine; and Glencoe, the location of Hagrid’s Hut as well as the bridge that led to the entrance of Hogwarts.
Of course, you can also visit Warner Bros Studios in London where you’ll discover and experience sets, props, and costumes.
Another Potter … Beatrix
There are so many good reasons to visit the Lake District, one of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes. It was of course, the home of Beatrix Potter author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other children’s favourites. And there’s a World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere, while the author’s own home, Hilltop, is preserved by the National Trust.
One of the most treasured bears of all time – his famous stories have been captivating children since 1926. The stories, set in the beautiful surroundings of Ashdown Forest in East Sussex allow for the most wonderful of woodland adventures for all who visit. A quick trip to the education centre on site and you can pick up a map of the forest allowing you to follow in the great bear’s footsteps. The path culminates at Pooh’s much-loved bridge where you can take a moment and play Pooh Sticks – a favourite game of, and made famous by, the honey loving bear.
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is nestled in picturesque Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, where the novelist lived for 35 years and wrote and based his much loved children’s books.
Complete with Dahl’s writing hut, manuscripts, photos and correspondence, the museum adds further background detail to his classic stories such as Danny Champion of the World, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.
Village trails take in sights that will delight children, such as the petrol pumps that inspired Danny’s father’s garage and the library where Matilda escaped to while her mother was at the bingo in nearby Aylesbury.
CS Lewis' Narnia: Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
The world of Narnia, the primary setting from CS Lewis’ book The Chronicles of Narnia, is loved amongst children worldwide for its enchanting surroundings and magical inhabitants.
Trek through the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland and you’ll be instantly transported there, especially if you visit during the snowy months when the weather matches that described in the first book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe chronicles.
The landscape was a huge inspiration for the Narnia stories, so much so that visitors can now walk along the ‘Narnia Trail’ which seeks to capture the imagination of children of all ages.
So, whether you pick and choose or do a grand tour of children's book connections, there are plenty to choose from and hopefully a 'way in' to spark the flame of reading