MS. REBECCA SHEIR
But first, speaking of young people, if you have ever visited a place with kids, then you know it can be a real trip. I mean, sure, you have to figure out what snacks to pack for the car, which games to grab for the road. You have to plan bathroom breaks, maybe even work in an emergency diaper-changing stop or two, but you also have to plan of course where to go.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Which sites will your youngsters really latch on to? Which places will grab their imaginations and make them want to come back for more? The woman we're about to meet says Washington, D.C. is chock full of those places. The key, she says, is finding ways for kids to get even more out of the experience when they visit and the secret to that, she says, is making sure they're prepared.
MS. CORKEY HAY DESIMONE
...because any way that you can prepare someone for an experience here, it's going to make it so much richer.
This is Bethesda resident and mother, Corkey Hay DeSimone. She's been writing and illustrating children's books for years including, "Cherry Blossom Friends," "Air and Space," that's an activity book designed for the National Air and Space Museum. She wrote "Panda Promise," that's another activity book, this one designed for the National Zoo. Corkey's most recent effort is "All About Me in D.C.: A Kid's Pocket Guide." It has an accompanying website, too, and the two of us recently met at one of Corkey's favorite spots for kids, the National Museum of American History to talk all about it.
D.C. as a whole, how would you say it fares on the child-friendliness scale compared to, say, other cities across the country?
Well, as an example, I'm going to tell a quick little story. I was walking through the Portrait Gallery on Sunday with my kids behind this older gentleman and he had his hands out to his side and he kept saying, you could spend a lifetime, you could spend a lifetime and you'd never see it all. He's having this epiphany as an older person and so I want the kids to have the epiphany when they're 10, 12, and 14 so that they keep coming back and it's just a treasure trove.
Let's talk about "All About Me in D.C." So I went to the website and you call it "A Book, A Map and App, Tools to See D.C." But D.C. is a major tourist destination. There are guidebooks all over the place about this city. What sets yours apart?
My book is not written for a parent to take a child to a site. My book is written for the kids. They carry it around. They can write down their fave fives. They can doodle. They can journal in it, you know. There's 250 fun facts in there. It's their book. It's how they will navigate the city so we want to hand it to them and say, what do you want to see? You tell me and let's go out and see it, because then they're going to be more engaged.
Speaking of that, on the website you have your D.C. challenge map. What is the D.C. challenge?
In Washington, you know, I often hear people say, oh, where should I go? And so I decided I would organize it for everybody. So I have a chart on the map and it has 70 plus sites on there and they're all organized by metro stop. And I'm asking everyone that wants to, take a pledge and see at least 20 sites in D.C. as a family, as a school. And the map, it's a wall map so it's something they'll put either in their room or their classroom and they'll be then able to check off where they've been. You know, the list is so long and, again, you could spend a lifetime and not see it all.
But you also have -- you also have an iPhone app to help people out?
Basically, I picked five of the major sites, the U.S. Capital, the White House, Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial and I tried to create 200 trivia questions on the iPhone app. It is meant to be something that the kids play with on the way downtown so that when they get there, they can feel empowered when the Park Ranger is saying, did you know about this? Their hands will go up and then they'll add their two cents. Anytime kids have foundational knowledge, they're going to be way more engaged. And when I say kids, I don't mean just like, you know, eight and under. I really want eight to 18 to be engaged and the content is written for them.
Another way you're trying to engage children is the My D.C. Clue Hunt. Can you tell us what that is?
What I want to do is I want to highlight one hot spot each month and this coming month a pretty obvious one would be the Tidal Basin. So I've taken nine major sites around the Tidal Basin and I've given them a question for each of those particular spots and they have to answer those. So it's just a nice way for kids to navigate the Tidal Basin on their own terms.
And the second page of the Clue Hunt is I want them to find one fun fact that they're interested in. Then I want them to take a picture of themselves at the spot, upload it to our Flickr site, the "All About Me in D.C." Flickr site and then I want them to write their fun fact. Then the kids can go on and see who has been where and what they've seen and what they thought was interesting. Because I can tell you, you know, until I'm blue in the face what I think is interesting, but the kids know what interests them and that's my audience. And I just want everyone to understand what we have here and how important it is that we take advantage of it.
Well, it could take a lifetime.
It could take a lifetime, but let's start now.
Corkey Hay DeSimone is the creator of "All About Me in D.C.: A Kid's Pocket Guide." You can find more information along with links to Corkey's other books at our website, metroconnection.org And stay tuned to "Metro Connection" in April when we grab the kids and go on a Clue Hunt at Corkey's newest Hot Spot of the Month.
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