Bring our Legendary Hometown Books to Life
Kansas will be forever immortalized through the beloved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Missouri is often associated with the writings of Mark Twain, especially The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This summer, bring these local classics to life with a family read-aloud and a bit of adventure too.
There’s No Place Like Home: Kansas and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Since 1900, children have delighted in the tales of the Emerald City, Munchkinland, Toto and the friends—and villains—Miss Gale meets in the land of Oz. L. Frank Baum wrote a series comprising more than a dozen books. The story came to life on the big screen in 1939, and generations of fans have enjoyed the tale with their entire family ever since. Since the original, Baum’s family members and fans have been inspired to add to the tales with even more Oz books, now available on shelves.
Read: This summer, read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a family and try a few more titles from the collection as well. Then, embark on your own Oz-inspired adventure with these outings.
Watch: The Wizard of Oz will be performed live on stage at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, Aug. 1-4, at 8:00pm. The production features a cast of 50 in this beloved MGM movie-inspired musical. All the classic songs come to life on the huge Providence Amphitheater stage. For the first time ever, classic movie scenes of Munchkinland, the yellow brick road, Emerald City and more will be integrated into the live stage musical. And, make plans to take the family to see KC Ballet's performance of The Wizard of Oz Oct. 12-21. Tickets on sale Aug. 13.
Discover Oz in Kansas City: Celebrate Oz Week at the National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame, Aug. 1-5. Spend the day with Dorothy and see what it was like to live on a farm. Feed chickens, milk a cow, attend class in an old schoolhouse, run through a corn maze and ride the miniature train through Farm Town USA. Then, head over to the Legends Outlets where you can walk the yellow brick road, buy Kansas (and Oz) souvenirs at Five & Dime, Oz books at Books-a-Million and a lollipop at one of the specialty shops. Nearby, visit the free Wyandotte County Museum, where children may play in Dorothy's back yard, skip down the painted Yellow Brick Road and see beautiful planted poppies. The Kansas City Kansas Public Libraries will host Oz-themed events the first week of August with special book displays, a film showing at the Main Library at 1:00 on Aug. 4 and science activities or crafts themed around the story. You’ll find even more ideas at VisitKansasCityKS.com/SummerOfOz
An Oz-Inspired Road Trip: Make a family day trip to Wamego, approximately 90 minutes from Kansas City, for a visit to the Oz Museum (511 Lincoln, Wamego, KS, OzMuseum.com). The museum is a veritable treasure trove of all things Oz, from costumes and props from the film, to collectible items straight from the books. The magic of the museum is enthralling for every Oz fan, young and old.
The Big River: Missouri and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Kansas Citian Ernest Hemingway has been quoted as saying, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The adventurous tale of a young boy who experiences life on the river and discovers his conscience along the way was published in 1884. Finn also appears in many of the Tom Sawyer tomes as Sawyer’s pal.
Read: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is full of adventure, as well as many themes that make it a worthy read-aloud. Highlighting many topics prevalent to the time period and setting, the book provides parents a prime opportunity to discuss all kinds of relevant issues with their children.
Watch: Big River is showing at the Gladstone Theater in the Park, Aug. 3-5. This free outdoor theater is bringing the Americana classic to life. Experience the mighty Mississippi River through the eyes of a young boy and his band of friends.
Discover Twain in Kansas City: Did you know you can take your picture with Mark Twain—or at least his statue? You’ll find his likeness seated on a bench on the corner of 10th & Central in Downtown Kansas City, MO. The statue is a few blocks away from the Central Library and its parking garage, which is adorned with classic book titles--including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Spend an afternoon at the library discovering Twain’s works on the shelves inside. Then, take a free ride aboard the KC Streetcar to the River Market District where you can visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum and learn about life on a steamboat and discover real treasure. The museum is one of the best interpretations of steamboating and an educational and engaging tie-in to better understand the setting for the book.
A Twain-Inspired Road Trip: Hannibal, MO (VisitHannibal.com), keeps the spirit of Twain alive with numerous attractions devoted to the author. You may tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and visit a variety of buildings and sites depicting early Hannibal and scenes from Twain’s books including the infamous white picket fence, which children may “paint” for a fun photo op. Then, take a ride on the Mighty Mississippi aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, tour the Mark Twain Cave where you’ll hear tales of Tom and Huck and enjoy other local family-friendly attractions.
Kristina Light’s family has enjoyed trips to both Wamego and Hannibal, and they consider these to be pleasant weekend getaways before the rush of the school year begins again.