Explore America: An Unforgettable Family Adventure is a children’s book about the National Parks, but also has an underlying spirit of the family vacation.
This project was inspired by a 3-week camping road trip I took with my family when I was 9. I will always cherish my memories from this trip, since I was able to experience so much of what this country has to offer, while having such a wonderful time with my parents and sisters. Childhood does not last forever, and I am so thankful my parents did this for my sisters and I. With this book, I hope to spark an interest in children, in the hopes that this will lead to their families going on their own adventures to see, experience, and support the National Parks.
The main component of the project was the children’s book, where the reader would take a journey with my family to some of the nation’s greatest parks, and see what a fun and exciting experience it was. As another layer—for the majority of the spreads—the child can learn about the park itself using flaps within the illustrations. For example, a rock mound illustration transforms into the napping place for a fox, and a fact stating that “most animals at the park are nocturnal to avoid the heat.” With these two layers to the book, the child can enjoy my family's experience of the parks, and also learn facts about the parks themselves, in an exciting and illustrative way. At the end of the book there is a pocket containing an “Adventure Map” and corresponding stickers. After reading about my family’s adventure and learning about the parks, the child can then plan out their own adventure. The stickers help them to label each stop, and also show what they are excited about. For example, they are able to draw or write on a sticker that states, “An animal I will see here...” This is an activity they can complete with their parents, or show them after, in turn inspiring them to make this planned adventure a reality. The final component is the postcard: when the family is actually on the trip, they would be able to purchase postcards from the National Parks’ gift shops, making the book a part of their vacation even though they may not be reading it throughout the trip. The child could then send it to a friend at home, hopefully spreading the knowledge of the book and to restart the cycle!
In a time of such economic and political instability, I thought it was important to remind people of what our country has to offer. Rather than taking extra money and spending it in other countries for vacation, why not keep the tourist dollars on our own soil and explore our own country. I wanted to use my own experience to spread the desire for people to take a family adventure of their own, therefore supporting the parks and our country, and make people realize that you don’t need to be on a tropical island resort to have the best family vacation of your life. The adventure awaits!