Meet Me at the Corner is a fabulous website for kids that offers virtual field trips. Started by Donna Guthrie, author of over 20 books for children with an MFA in Children's and Young Adult Writing from Vermont College, the site is sort of an educational (let me emphasize this - EDUCATIONAL - there are no clips of cats sneezing or people dancing in front of their mirrors here) YouTube for kids ages 7 - 13. There are currently over 60 kid friendly videos on the website and they cover a wide range of topics and each one comes with a list of recommended books and a Learning Corner with related questions and activities relating to the topic of each show. I first discovered the MEET ME AT THE CORNER in October of 2008 when I was writing my review of Michael Buckley's excellent series, The Sisters Grimm. I found a video narrated by Emma, who is a fan of the series. The field trip begins outside the building where Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams, the publisher of the series, is housed. Emma goes inside, explains the business a bit then sits down with Mr Buckley for an interview. While the two speak images of the illustrations from the books as well as images of the books of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm float by when appropriate. The movie lasted a little over four minutes and I learned things I never knew about the series and the Grimms - did you know they had a sister? - I was hooked.
My 5 year old, a They Might Be Giants fan, has recently taken a liking to their song, "The Edison Museum." I was thrilled when I logged on today and saw a field trip to the Thomas Edison National History Museum, led by Carter who is accompanied by an actor portraying Edison. Of course I pulled out a few books on Edison for my son, but really, for his age, he got much more out of the virtual field trip that he did looking at any of the pictures in the books I had. There are over 20 categories of field trips and they cover everything from sports, poetry, music (a visit to the stage of Hairspray and a talk with the director) tavel, pets and cooking. There is a field trip to the Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in NYC to a tutorial on Gargoyles. Every field trip is headed and narrated by a child with adults providing additional information and insight. I could go on and on with all the great field trips, but for those of you in my neck of the woods, don't miss all the trips in the San Diego area!
But, my favorite clips on the site are from the BIG APPLE BOOK REVIEW. These are great little "book hooks" in which a young person presents a book and discusses the plot, interspersed with images from the book or related subjects. I watched a clip for the book Whittington by Alan Armstrong. I had seen this book on the shelves and wanted to check it out and was very pleased with Chandra, the presenter's, discussion of it. I think that promise of a spot on the BIG APPLE BOOK REVIEW might be a great incentive to get kids reading, or a super project for a book report.