If you want your kids to be interested in the world beyond TV and social media you need to show the world to them. And what better way to show it than through books? From the youngest age, we have been surrounding our kids with books about different countries, about travel and different cultures. We love exploring bookstores around the world and look for new books. But our choices where limited to the books we knew. So I asked other travel bloggers what books have inspired their children to make them want to travel and see the countries of the world.
The best travel books for kids
The Travel Book
The Travel Book is the book which my girls pick up every Summer when we are in our house in Poland planning our next year of travel. They read about the countries we are thinking of and inform us why they would like to visit it. Each page in The Travel Book is dedicated to a different country in a way that has fascination for all of us, kids and adults alike. Even if your kids are too small to read, they can just look at the pictures while you read over their shoulder.
We bought the book “Maps” by Polish illustrator Aleksandra Mizielinksi for our son’s first birthday. It was a special gift which we hoped would inspire in him a sense of curiosity for the world and a love of adventure.
The book features beautifully illustrated maps of countries around the world. It provides background information on each country, including the population, capital city, languages spoken and common names. Pictures show the native animals, popular culture, sports, hobbies and food. It is fun for children to point out objects they find interesting or familiar. Our son loves finding the trains, animals and what he recognises as Disney’s “Coco” in Mexico (which is actually the day of the dead figures).
We discuss the things that people like doing in each country. We love to look at places we have been or would like to go.
Our son is now three years old, and we still look at this book at least once a week. We are planning an upcoming holiday to Italy and France to visit family, a long way away from our hometown in Australia. We talk about how our son’s Abuelo is from Spain, and who we will be going to visit. We chat about the fun things they do like Flamenco dancing in Spain and eating cheese in France.
The book has helped us to explain the holiday to our son. It has helped to contextualise the concept of other counties and cultures. It creates excitement for travel and adventure. We can’t wait to continue showing him the world. This book is a perfect gift for young map lovers . We love that our favourite book Maps will be part of that journey.
Contributed by Stephanie Perez from Navigating Adventure
“Tippi – My Book of Africa” by Tippi Degré
On my way home to Muscat from visiting a friend in South Africa, I was browsing books at the airport as gifts for my daughters. I spotted “Tippi – My Book of Africa” by Tippi Degré.
The book attracted me with beautiful photos. I bought it, and by the time I landed in Muscat, I had read it cover to cover and knew that it would be their new favourite.
Tippi is not an ordinary child. She was born in Africa to French filmmaker and photographer Alain Degré and Sylvie Robert who were exploring and photographing Africa when she was born. Tippi spent the first ten years of her life with wild animals as playmates. She believes that she can talk to animals. Her best friends are Abu the Elephant, an ostrich, and lions. Tippi climbs baobab trees and goes hunting with the native Africans. The whole book is illustrated with unbelievably beautiful photos of Tippi playing with wild animals. But it is not just a picture book, the text tells the rich and intriguing story of Tippi’s life from the viewpoint of an extraordinary young girl.
When I was reading this book on the flight home, I had only one dream – either to have life like that or to give such rich experiences to my daughters. Every time I open this book with my girls now I long to go back to Africa and live in those wild places. For now, we live there in our imaginations through the pages of this book.
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Hello, World by Jonathon Litton
Hello, World by Jonathon Litton is a wonderful book for any age child! It’s a hardback lift-the-flap book that’s available in English and German, and it covers how to say hello in all languages of the world.
Young kids love lifting the flaps to find the different words, and older kids (and adults!) will be fascinated by all of the variations of the simple, global greeting. “Hello World” also has further information such as how many people speak each language, pronunciation tips, languages that have been lost, indigenous languages, and the original written form of many that aren’t alphanumeric.
My children and I practised saying ‘hello’ in all of the languages of the countries we were visiting on our first overseas trip. This included Thai, Khmer, Malay, Vietnamese and Spanish! While we didn’t get to Vietnam or Central America as we’d planned, my kids really enjoyed being able to greet others in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, and they still recall how to say hello now, several years later.
We also practised four Indigenous Australian languages from Hello World. It was lovely to learn a little about our home country’s First People. The majority of their languages have been lost forever, so we discussed how important it is that the remaining ones are practised and protected for the future.
Contributed by Emma Walmsley from Small footprints, big adventures
The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking
The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking are a series of books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. It is about a fearless and unusual nine-year-old girl with superhuman strength and an aversion to condescending adults. Pippi is red-haired, freckled, and essentially an orphan because her mother died when she was a baby, and her father, a captain has vanished at sea. The intrepid Pippi lives on her own in a small town in Sweden. He goes off on adventures with her monkey Mr Nilsson, and her neighbours Annika and Tommy. I read the series when I was a kid. I kept the books for so long I was finally able to read them with my daughter. As a kid, I was most intrigued by her adventures in the South Sea, but in the end, it was the Sweden connection that drew us in.
During a ten-day trip to Sweden to visit my family who lives in Stockholm, we had the opportunity to check out several of the family-friendly museums and attractions in the city. Vivi’s favourite was Junibacken, the Astrid Lindgren children’s museum. It’s a fun, hands-on interactive museum with several indoor and outdoor play areas, a restaurant, a bookstore, and a theater. There’s even a StoryBook Train that takes you on a Disney-esque ride through the villages in all of Lindgren’s stories. We could have spent all day, and there was so much to see and do. Climbing around in Pippi’s crooked house brought the books to life for both of us.
Contributed by Lizzie Lau
My Family and Other Animals
“My Family and Other Animals” is a collection of autobiographical recollections of the Author’s life as a child in Corfu in the late 1930s. Gerry is the animal-loving youngest child in a hilariously dysfunctional genteel British family. The stories describe perennial clashes between Gerry’s self-centred siblings and their widowed, rather dotty mother. The sit-com is interspersed with tales of Gerry’s ballooning menagerie of wild birds, reptiles and insects. An ever-benevolent factotum, Spiro, assists the family circus in dealing with the unsophisticated realities of pre-war Greece.
Our girls are both animal-crazy and they were immediately inspired by the detail with which Durrell describes the wildlife that inhabits his romanticised Mediterranean wonderland. At nine, they were also old enough to enjoy riotous belly-laughs as the family lurch from one ironic self-inflicted torture to the next. This book inspired our Greece road trip.
Contributed by Nick James
Alice in Wonderland
As a child, we have all read the adventure stories of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The book revolves around a young girl, Alice, who fell in through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world filled with peculiar and magical creatures. The book is best for children because, like Alice, they too are having an unquenched hunger for curiosity.
I personally feel that travel is a vital part of kids’ lives. It nurtures them and prepares them for hardships of life. Through her story, Alice entices us in her adventure. She shows us the various stages like eating the cookie without thinking anything and gets a giant head or drinking the juice that shrinks here. There is a thrill of excitement on each page.
The story was originated at Christ Church in Oxford where Lewis Carroll met Alice Liddel, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church. You can also go for Alice in Wonderland Tour at Oxford. The tour begins at Folly Bridge on the River Thames. In the dining hall at Christ Church, there is a tiny tribute to Alice in Wonderland in the stained glass. At bottom left of one of the stained glass panels is a small Alice in Wonderland with long blonde hair in her iconic blue dress. Then in the centre of the panel is a girl’s face, and this is Alice Liddell. Halfway down the dining hall, you will find a fireplace on either side of the hall. Flanking the fire are two brass firedogs, which were the inspiration for Alice’s long neck like a caterpillar.
If you are a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, it is a must place to check out.
Contributed by Shalini Garnaik from Eager2Travel
Jeremy’s Tail by Duncan Ball
Jeremy’s Tail is a delightful story about a young boy named Jeremy who travels the world without knowing it! The story by Duncan Ball unfolds with the aid of wonderful illustrations by Donna Rawlins. Jeremy’s Tail begins with Jeremy attending his friends birthday party in his rural hometown in Australia. Jeremy is blindfolded to play the party game ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey. While his friends fall asleep waiting for Jeremy to finish the game, Jeremy unwittingly leaves the house and embarks on his round the world adventure. He boards a bus which takes him to Sydney where he inadvertently boards a cruise ship which takes him to Africa. There he passes the pyramids, gets caught in a herd of zebra and meets people from the Maasai tribe. Jeremy’s adventure continues as he gets caught up in the ropes of a hot air balloon which pulls him to Europe – and so on. Jeremy eventually returns to Australia – and the party – by being shot out of a cannon in France! I used to read this fun book to my children. Afterwards, we would search for the countries mentioned in the book on a map or globe. We would learn a little information about each destination. It was a fantastic way to introduce my children to other countries and their famous locations. When we eventually visited Australia, one of my children excitedly exclaimed that the houses with verandas ‘looked just like the ones in ‘Jeremy’s Tail’!
Contributed by Sinead Camplin from Map Made Memories
Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie
Peter Pan, written by J. M. Barrie, has been my most favorite fairytale since childhood. The story is set in London. It is about the adventures of Wendy Darling, Peter Pan and their friends in ‘Neverland’. Peter Pan ran away from his home as a child, and ended up in Neverland, where children never grow up! But he keeps visiting his hometown every now and then, and that’s how he first saw the Darling siblings. Wendy darling is the eldest, who narrates bedtime stories to her younger brothers. Peter Pan loves listening to Wendy’s stories, and one night they meet. He, along with his little fairy, Tinker Bell, takes the children to Neverland, where their adventures being! Neverland has the most exciting places. I would dream about flying off to the Tiki forest, Mermaid lagoon and the Crocodile creek each time my mother read this story to me! It sparked that curiosity in me to want to go and explore new places. Each time my parents announced a vacation plan, I would jump around in excitement.
The same excitement remains alive even now when I’m planning my own dream vacations! London has been my dream destination since childhood, and I hope to visit soon! I genuinely believe the fairytales that my mother read to me. Her vivid descriptions of the magical places did inspire me in the best possible way. ‘Peter Pan’ has some fascinating characters and such an exciting plot; it’s definitely an excellent choice for children!
contributed by Neethu Nair from Our Back Pack Tales
Linnea in Monet’s Garden
Perhaps you think there’s no way your child could be excited about visiting the French house of some “old person” who lived more than 100 years ago, which to a young child might as well have been 1000 years ago. But then clearly you’ve never had the chance of introducing him to Linnea, a young girl who has the incredible opportunity to visit Paris and Giverny, the house and gardens of Claude Monet, one of the most important and well-known painters of the modern era, with her neighbour and friend Mr Bloom.
Through Christina Björk’s lively and engaging text and Lena Anderson’s stunning drawings, readers both young and old will feel as if they too have been transported to France when they follow along with Linnea in her travelling adventures visiting everywhere from The Musée Marmottan Monet and The Musée de l’Orangerie to of course the famed Japanese Bridge at Giverny which was depicted in countless paintings by Monet.
I first read Linnea in Monet’s Garden when I was a child and so desperately wanted to follow in Linnea’s footsteps after that, even though I didn’t have nearly enough francs to stay in the Hotel Esmeralda in Paris as Linnea did. And even though I’ve yet to visit Giverny, I still dream about doing so. I imagine taking the train from Paris and having a picnic along the banks of the river just like Linnea, and Mr Bloom did and of course, taking picture after picture of one of the prettiest gardens in the world. And naturally, I would travel there in August since per Mr Bloom’s recommendation. That’s when the water lilies would be at their best.
contributed by Julie of The Red Headed Traveler theredheadedtraveler.com
A Bear Called Paddington
Paddington is an iconic children’s series by Michael Bond, which was first published in 1958 and heavily features the city of London. Paddington, a walking, talking bear, arrives from Peru into Paddington station, which is of course how he got his name. He is lost and alone but is soon picked up by the Brown family. They gave him a home in Notting Hill.
Following in the steps of Paddington bear in London is really easy. Start at Paddington station, just as this lovable bear did, and a statue of the bear himself will greet you. There’s also a Paddington shop which is stuffed with bear toys – it’s the only shop dedicated to Paddington bear in the world!
Then your London adventure will begin. Reading the books beforehand means you and your kids can see these sights through Paddington’s eyes. You can bet this bear has been to every London monument worth visiting including Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London and more. However, you’ll want to make sure your kids don’t get up to the mischief Paddington did. For example, trying to stick your head through the railings at Buckingham Palace is not advisable! Remember to keep your marmalade sandwiches away from London’s pigeons too.
If you’ve got time to head further west, you can explore the colourful streets of Notting Hill. Paddington called it home. Paddington’s best friend, Mr Gruber, owns an antique shop on Portobello Road and this doesn’t actually exist. You can visit Alice’s Antiques which looks just like something from the book. In fact, it was used as Mr Gruber’s in the recent Paddington films.
Contributed by Laura from What’s Hot?
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Flat Stanley is about a little boy called Stanley Lamchop who gets flattened by a bulletin board while he is sleeping in bed. An unlikely start, but the sort of random event that kids love! He survives the encounter. Series of books recount his tales of what happens to him now he is flat. In the first book, he explores America, and various others in subsequent books in the series, including Mexico, Canada and Australia)
I read these books as a child. I remember being blown away by the idea that being flat. Stanley could now be rolled into an envelope and put in the post. In the first book, Stanley is now able to visit his friends in California because his parents can just put him in an envelope and drop him in the mail! In subsequent books, Stanley gets to have adventures all over the world. He treks through the Mexican jungle, crosses the African savannah, braves the Canadian Artic and even spends time as a boomerang in Australia!
I read the stories when I was about seven years old. I think they sowed the seeds of my desire to travel and see the world. As a family, we didn’t travel very far afield. I remember daydreaming about getting flattened and then travelling the world in an envelope! I loved all Stanley’s adventures. Now, as a parent, I love the fact the books engender the idea of world travel, while also sharing the message that apparent setbacks in life can bring unforeseen positive consequences. Every cloud has a silver lining!
Contributed by Clare Dewey from Epic Road Rides
Books to inspire kids with wanderlust – Conclusion
Please do revisit this page from time to time. We are keeping it live and we will be adding more book reviews as they come in. Meanwhile please do leave comments to tell us and other visitors to this page what books have inspired you and your kids. Also tell us which places they have implanted into your wanderlust dreams.
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