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As a former elementary teacher and a current world traveler, turned Mama, I have a slight obsession with books.
You see, I love the idea of using books to inspire your children to travel!
Some of Lil B’s first children’s books had a travel theme to them or were specifically travel books for kids.
It started as just finding children’s books about travel (you know, general themes about the excitement of travel, like “Penguin’s Big Adventure” (an absolute FAVE in our household since day 1!)
But then, as we would travel to new places, cities and countries, I would go search out books about that location. Sometimes they were fiction and other times non-fiction (I’m also a huge believer in reading tons of non-fiction starting at an early age and getting them accustomed to all genres of reading!- yes, HELLO 4th grade teacher in me!)
As a little traveler, having inspirational books to read about travel is not only a great way to include them in your trip planning but to also culturally enrich your kiddos.
So I took to the streets and asked fellow family travelers what some of their kids’ favorite books about travel were and got some really amazing responses! Click here to jump straight to the full book list below
Why Use Books About World Travel With Your Kids
1) It Introduces Them to Various Genres
Many children are only read fictional books from an early age and while ANY amount of reading to kids is invaluable, I love getting kids used to all genres from the very start. My two year old loves a good picture book reading but also gobbles up nonfiction books with real photographs instead of illustrations.
2) Get Them Excited To Travel
Even from a very very young age, you can use books to instill an excitement about adventure and travel. With the especially young ones, books that have more of a “theme” of travel or adventure are great! They teach them young that they can conquer the world and go out and explore!
As they get older, you can use specific destinations and find books that correlate with this. The kids will read these books and look forward to going to an upcoming camping trip, exploring Asia, or seeing ancient Roman Ruins because they have context from their books.
3) Involve Them In Trip Planning
As your kids get older, have your children be apart of travel planning.
Maybe they love Harry Potter, so you ask them to help plan a trip to the UK. Go a step further and include specific locations that are mentioned in the books!
Or maybe they’ve read Hatchet, by Gary Paulson and wants to go on a hike themselves. Use this to your advantage and plan a trip to make that a reality!
I know a lot of travelers who have older children and teens that allow their kids to completely plan a trip every certain number of years. What a great way to incorporate books and reading into that process!
4) Have Something Other Than IPADS
We limit screen time, even while traveling. In fact, we didn’t whip out a tablet for Lil B until well after 2 years old. Instead, we packed tons of books to read while traveling and relied heavily on those.
I fully intend that as he gets older that we will have a reading instated rule such as, “You must read X minutes” before you get the tablet.
5) Listen To An AudioBook As a Family
If you are planning a road trip, listening to an audiobook that the whole family enjoys is the perfect way to spend the long hours! (Here are our other suggestions for Surviving a Road Trip With Toddlers)
Not only does it help pass the time, but it keeps the kiddos genuinely entertained, avoiding the dreaded “Are We There Yet” question.
If you have an Amazon Kindle Account, there are thousands of free audiobooks and tablet books to download immediately!
Here are 18 of the Best Travel Stories and Children’s Books About the World
As Recommended by REAL Family Travelers For Various Ages!
The Perfect Shell by Jo-Anne Mason
Synopsis: This book about Hattie the hermit crab and her journey to find a new, perfect shell in Saint Martin and Sint Maarten the beautiful Caribbean island with two names. Hattie meets a lot of interesting creatures along the way and ends up with the shell she least expected.
Why Kids Love It: This book is great for kids of all ages that travel because it introduces them to The Friendly island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin; the only island belonging to two countries and some interesting animals that can be found there.
– Michelle, from Travel Fun Fam
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Synopsis: A snail with a yearning for adventure leaves the rock that is her home to travel around the world on the back of a whale. On the way, she sees many places and learns that despite being small she can still make a difference.
Why Kids Love It: We love that reading this book to young kids encourages a sense of adventure and highlights that the world is full of wonderful places. It’s the perfect travel picture book with fantastic rhymes as well, perfect for little ones!
– Chris, from MoreLifeInYourDays
I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi
Synopsis: The story follows 2 children who live in Tokyo, Japan and each month the special celebrations that take place.
Why Kids Love It: It is fantastic for children to learn about the lives and traditions of a different culture through a child’s experience. We read this book before we traveled to Tokyo and it got the kids really excited to try different sushi and to see Mt Fuji.
-Bron from SmithsHolidayRoad
Aijethai and other Traditional Stories from Laos by Siphone Vouthisukdy
Synopsis: This is a book of Lao folktales sharing important lessons for life.
Why Kids Love It: It was published in a combined English-Lao format, for Lao children who are also trying to learn English, but also gives young English readers insight into another culture.
Bonus! And the best part of all is that the publisher, Big Brother Mouse, is a not-for-profit organization in Laos, dedicated to providing educational resources for children in remote villages, so buying their books helps a good cause!
– Jo from Beyond The Lamp Post
S went Surfing in Hawaii
Synopsis: “S Went Surfing In Hawaii” is a children’s book about the ABC’s and Hawaiian culture. It follows the story of “S” who is busy surfing throughout the book.
Why Kids Love It: It teaches kids about the amazing Hawaiian culture without them knowing it and it has a catchy rhyme and colorful photos!
– Lindsay, from Carpe Diem Our Way
The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher
Synopsis: This book follows a young boys adventures as he spends summer in France after WW2. There are spies, adventure and fun for him as well as learning the new language and culture.
Why Kids Love It: It’s a great book for traveling kids (I’d say for ages 10+) as it teaches a couple of French words in each chapter – the last bit of the book is a letter the boy writes in French and my kids could read it solely through being taught by the book.
-Kristy, from Lost in Landmarks
Crepes By Suzette by Monica Wellington
Synopsis: This is one of our favorite kids books about Paris. It’s a fantastic orientation to the city’s iconic sites and everyday scenes as young readers follow Suzette and her crepe cart around the city!
Why Kids Love It: While there isn’t a lengthy story, our children loved pointing out sites they recognized when we visited! It’s the perfect introduction for preschoolers and early elementary students!
– Melissa, from The Family Voyage
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Synopsis: A much loved children’s classic by French novelist Jules Verne, ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ is a tale of adventure, action and intrigue that spans London to India to Hong Kong and beyond. With a colorful cast of characters and a captivating plot, it’s a timeless tale that touches on the importance of travel – for both children and adults alike!
Why Kids Love It: Children love the colorful cast of characters and the weird and wonderful modes of transport Phileas Fogg uses – from steamboat to elephant – as he travels around the world. From escaping kidnap to battling against hurricane winds, this tale is rich in excitement and enduring charm
– Lucy, from The Literary Edit
Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester
Synopsis: A family drives along the well-known Great Ocean Road, into the outback and experiences the Great Barrier Reef before returning home to see their grandparents and all their pets they had to leave behind.
Why Kids Love It: This fabulous Australian children’s book is ideal for kids to inspire them during their travel in Australia. It tells of a family heading off on an around Australian trip, describing all the famous places and animals they encounter along the way. It’s relatable and gets kids really interested in all there is to see and do in Australia!
-Jane, from Explore the Great Ocean Road
Paddington – a Peruvian bear in London
Synopsis: A much-loved bear from darkest Peru gets into scrapes and mischief in London after he is discovered at
Paddington Station. Adopted by proper English family the Browns, marmalade-loving Paddington has many
adventures with them on Portobello Road and other London landmarks.
Why Kids Love It: Kids love Paddington because he has exciting adventures in a new city and questions social norms in a matter of fact way which they love doing themselves! Paddington’s awe at riding on an underground train and going up and down escalators captures the feelings children have in London’s busy train stations
– Katy, from Untold Morsels
Letters From Felix
Synopsis: Letters from Felix is a gorgeous book about a little girl, Sophia, who loses Felix, her toy rabbit, at the airport. The book then takes the reader on a journey through letters sent home to Sophia from Felix as he travels the world.
Why Kids Love It: A fun read for kids who travel, by inspiring imagination of a toy rabbit that is experiencing adventure in the same cities around the world that they themselves have visited.
-Lisa, from The Schooled Parent
The Little Prince
Synopsis: This is a story about the lonely prince who lives alone on his own planet. During his adventures, he meets various characters that help him to discover the different worlds around him. A great sense of adventure and travel inspiration for both kids and young at heart as the little prince discovers various life lessons during his travels.
Why Kids Love It: The book is presented in a cartoon style and in an easy to understand style that will surely appeal to the younger reader.
-Ryazan, from EverythingZany
Good Book SERIES for Kids Encouraging Travel
Percy Jackson (Series)
Synopsis: The Percy Jackson book series is full of adventure for older kids, by master storyteller Rick Riordan. Kids who travel will be fascinated with these fantasy novels, which are full of mythology and historical Greek Gods.
Why Kids Love Them: My kids read the series and knew all about the statues in the museums of Zeus, Poseidon, Artemus, and other gods, as well as places like Delphi and Olympus when we traveled to Greece for 7 Days!
– Whitney, from GoFam Travel
Lonely Planet’s ‘Not For Parents’ Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Destination Guides (Series)
Synopsis: This series is written in a fun, kid-friendly format specifically for children aged 8 – 12 years old and contains intriguing story snippets, fascinating facts and occasional silly and gross tidbits of information that kids will love about the people, places, history and culture of the destination each book concentrates on.
Why Kids Love The Whole Series: My kids love the Lonely Planet ‘Not For Parents’ Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Destination Guide Series and to be honest so do I!
My kids have learned so much from this series of books and it’s amazing the facts they are able to recall and tell me when we visit a destination or it comes up in conversation.
These books are brilliant for building up interest and excitement in children before travel to a specific destination.
-Ingrid, from Fabulous And Fun Life
Larry Get’s Lost In…(Series)
Synopsis: Larry Get’s Lost is a Children’s Travel Series that focuses on showing major American cities such as New York, Chicago and Seattle through the eyes of a dog. Larry the dog gets lost in each book and works his way around each city visiting major tourists attractions and areas such as Times Square in New York on his adventure to his way back to his family. The book also includes fun facts about unique places he visits in the side bar of each page.
Why Kids Love The Series: These books are great for kids as they identify major landmarks in each city, and teach the children more about them in a fun way so that they can connect to them when traveling to that location.
-Erin from Little Miss Kate
Flat Stanley (Series)
Synopsis: The premise of the Flat Stanley is simple. One day the main character Stanley Lambchop survives being crushed while sleeping by a falling bulletin board and after that, he makes the most of his newly altered state by visiting his friends and family by being mailed in an envelope all over the world! The books take Flat Stanley on a series of worldwide adventures visiting Egypt, Canada, Mexico, Africa, China, Australia, and France to name just a few of the countriess he visits on his fun travels as a super flat person.
Why Kids Love It: Kids LOVE to do their own version of a “Flat Stanly” (often a “puppet” of themselves!) and go all over their own town to take photos with it. Alternatively, kids love it when OTHERS participate in their own “flat” series!
-Frances, from Inspiring Life Dreams
Famous Five (Series)
Synopsis: As a child, I was an avid fan of the popular Famous Five children’s books. Five young adventurers go all across the UK, namely the South West. This inspired such a love for the area in me that I eventually moved down to Devon in order to attend university when I was 18 and it’s still one of my favourite parts of the UK.
Why Kids Love The Series: I think it’s great for kids who travel as the series focuses around 5 young children who live a life of mystery and intrigue wherever they go, inspiring other young children to use their imagination and have their own adventures in their everyday lives.
– Bradley, from Dream Big, Travel Far
Bear Grylls Adventure (Series)
Synopsis: I love reading all of Bear Grylls books for kids. They are really fun stories about traveling and adventures. My personal favorite is called “The Jungle Challenge.” This book is about some kids going through a jungle and the main character, Omar, learns a lot about how to find his way through it.
Why Kids Love It: These books really instill a love for adventure! If you like to travel and adventure then you will enjoy this book and probably his other books too.
– Suewan, from RTW Families
Peppa Goes On Holiday (Series)
Synopsis: This book sees Peppa Pig go to Italy where she eats pizza and goes sightseeing. With all the fun, Peppa keeps leaving her teddy bear behind; luckily there’s always a kindly policeman on hand to return teddy to her.
Why Kids Love It: What kid DOESN’T love the Peppa Pig cartoons!? This particular book is the familiar character they watch on tv and is great for young children (2-4 years old) as it gets them excited about the adventures to be had away from home and flying on an airplane.
-Clare, from Epic Road Rides
There are SO many amazing books about travel and adventure for kids, we’ve only just scratched the surface.
But I’d love to hear from you, what books, fiction or non-fiction have your kids loved about traveling?