Taking a group of children for an outing can be rough — perhaps more so for adults than for the young people. After all, it’s up to parents and teachers to keep track of their charges, worry about transportation, safety, snacks, and more. So why bother? Because field trips make a difference. There’s research that supports field trips to art museums, aka “culturally enriching” activities, has a significant and positive impact on students. In my experience, almost all family or class outings can make a positive impact. I was reminded of this when I attended, the 13th annual National Book Festival in Washington DC recently. On a cloudy Saturday and a bright Sunday there were lots of families with young children and huge groups of young people from schools in the region (some from its farthest reaches), easily identified and highly visible in bright tee shirts emblazoned with school names. Many attendees were starstruck by their favorite authors — Phyllis Naylor , author of the Alice series, Matthew Quick who wrote Silver Linings Playbook, the novel turned into movie, National Ambassadors Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson and many, many more authors and illustrators for readers of all ages — informed, inspired, challenged and engaged. Lines to have books signed were often long. But the kids and their adults waited patiently for the chance to have their treasures signed by the people who wrote them, to meet them face-to-face, to share a bit of admiration or ask a question. Hear the author (or illustrator) in person and suddenly books come alive, making this and other field trips well worth the effort.