Travel books for children inspire curiosity about the world. Kids of all ages can expand their horizons and increase their understanding of other types of people through literary travel. To create this list of incredible reads, I reached out to those in the know: travel bloggers whose children love to explore just as much as their parents do. Of course, I included a few of my family's favorites as well. Build your library and learn about other cultures with these picture travel books for children and chapter travel books for children.
During a walk around a New York City block, Madlenka takes children on a trip around the world. The title character visits her favorite neighbors from a Latin American grocer and a French baker, to an Indian news vendor and a Chinese shop owner. Kids and parents alike will love the detailed illustrations and sweet story of Madlenka sharing the news of her first lost tooth.
~ Colleen Lanin, TravelMamas.com
New York Is My Playground
“New York Is My Playground is a great introduction to New York City life for toddlers and young children. The copy is big and bold, the photos are gorgeous and the subjects are adorable. Toddlers will love seeing city kids on the subway, running around Times Square, exploring Central Park, atop the Empire State Building, eating oversized soft pretzels and exploring landmarks all over town. My daughter loves spotting all her favorite NYC sights and pointing out similarities and differences between the children.”
~ Lyla Gleason, Globetrotting Mommy
A Dublin Fairytale
A spin on Little Red Riding Hood, in the sweetly illustrated A Dublin Fairytale, “Little Fiona lives in Dublin, Ireland, and one day she goes alone to visit her granny who is sick. She takes off wearing her red hood but her walk doesn't bring her through the woods. Rather she takes the reader on a journey through Dublin city centre and its main landmarks.”
~ Marta Correale, LearningEscapes.net
My family checked Wind-Wild Dog out of the library in preparation for our Alaskan cruise. We fell so in love with the story about a wild-mannered adopted sled dog with one blue eye and one brown eye, that we bought a copy as a reminder of our trip and summer dog-sledding experience. If you are considering any family dog-sledding adventures of your own (and even if you're not!), I encourage you to buy this book.
~ Colleen Lanin, TravelMamas.com
Hamish the Hairy Haggis
“Hamish the Hairy Haggis is one of my all-time favorite regional children's books. It's funny, enjoyable, and my kids learned about some basic Scottish traditions. They still talk about the story and have asked to return to Scotland for Hogmanay (New Years).”
~ Stacy Jessee, Strollering the Globe
Richard Scarry's A Day at the Airport
Prepare children for an upcoming flight with the detailed illustrations in Richard Scarry's A Day at the Airport. Teach young travelers with over 70 labeled words and a sticker sheet, perfect for play on board the plane.
Olivia Goes to Venice
“Like the other Olivia books, the Olivia Goes to Venice is witty and beautifully illustrated. Olivia inadvertently causes trouble and discovers the joy of gelato. My children had the book pretty much memorized when we did eventually take them to Venice.”
~ Shobha George, JustGoPlaces.com
“Gifts is a wonderful tale about sharing the passion of travel with children and how it's a gift that can be passed on through generations.”
~ Kevin Wagar, WanderingWagars.com
Molly and the Magic Suitcase Series
“Parents and children love the Molly and the Magic Suitcase series, “because the characters are always learning about different cultural aspects and food. The illustrations are awesome and draw [my kids] in even when I'm not expecting it.”
~ Anne Belle, Kids Travel Books
“Maps a beautifully illustrated book that showcases 52 different countries around the world. As well as detailing cities, rivers, and mountains, Maps details native plants and animals, plus local foods. They even highlight traditional dress and the typical names of boys and girls from that country. It’s a brilliant way to travel the world without ever leaving home.”
~ Katja Gaskell, GlobeTotting.com
This Is series
“We always buy a This Is book by M. Sasek, if there is one for our destination. They are technically picture books but are full of really nice illustrations and all kinds of information. They were written in the 1950s but they tell you at the end what has changed from the original text. They're beautiful and help my daughter to be interested in the historical sites, monuments and churches that kids can find boring. In Paris she made me carry the book around so we could refer to it as we came across things. We didn't do that in Edinburgh but she read it on the plane and in the hotel. Almost every tourist site we passed, she'd say, ‘This is in my book!'”
~ Eileen Gunn, FamiliesGoTravel.com
Lonely Planet Kids Travel Books
“My sons love Lonely Planet Kids Travel Books. Even as teenagers, they've enjoyed the Not for Parents series, Great Escapes, and How to Survive Anything. These titles inspire travel and knowledge at the same time.”
~ Claudia Laroye, thetravellingmom.ca
Anne of Green Gables series
“You can't go to Prince Edward Island and not read Anne of Green Gables. This Canadian classic depicts the life of a spunky red head and her adventures in Canada's smallest province. My daughter was thrilled to be able to visit the house and surrounding woods that inspired the novels. Green Gables Heritage Place was one of the highlights of our trip as was walking through the Haunted Woods.”
~ Jody Robbins, Travels with Baggage
“This fabulous graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier documents her childhood family road trip from California to Colorado. Sisters explores the tumultuous relationship between two sisters that discover that even though they argue, they will always be family.”
~ Becky Mladic Morales, Kid World Citizen
Little House on the Prairie series
For a journey back in time to the turn of the 19th century in American history, Little House on the Prairie can't be beat. These travel books for children follow Laura and her family as they head west, in search of land of their very own. I read these books aloud to my daughter each night, savoring them over the course of a couple of years. We fell in love with Laura, Pa, Ma, Mary and the rest of the family and neighbors. (Well, maybe not Laura's mean arch rival, Nellie Oleson!) Laura Ingalls Wilder paints a vivid world of prairie chickens clucking in tall grasses, bitter blizzards that raged for days, and a time when the focus was on family and simple pleasures. It was a sad day indeed when we finished reading this beloved series together.
~ Colleen Lanin, TravelMamas.com
Travel books for children by Rick Riordan
“My kids love all of the Rick Riordan books. From Percy Jackson to the Kane Chronicles to Magnus Chase, my kids have learned about Greek, Egyptian, and Norse Mythology as well as world history in a fun way. When we travel, they love connecting in real life with the things they have learned in these books. I highly recommend these series for boys and girls alike!”
~ Kirsten Maxwell, Kids Are a Trip
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul
“The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney is a great book to read before, during or after a road trip with your kids. This popular book brings readers along for a ride as the Heffleys go off on a grand adventure that has many twists and turns, but turns out to be a adventure no one ever expected, much like our own family's road trip across the country a few years ago. Whether your kids can read chapter books yet or not, you will all enjoy reading this book together.”
~ Keryn Means, Walking On Travels
Magic Tree House series
The Magic Tree House “is a wonderful series featuring Jack and Annie, who are siblings that go on adventures back in time all over the world. Before we went to Rome last year we read about Ancient Rome and Pompeii. These books provided just enough history for my kids to really appreciate [the destination] without bogging them down with details. I honestly believe my kids got more out of our vacation thanks to the Magic Tree House series.”
~ Lara Dorman, 2MomsTravel.com
First Class Murder
Middle schooler mystery lovers will enjoy First Class Murder, which follows the adventures of best friends, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong. “The two are traveling on the famous Orient Express for a vacation with Hazel’s dad, who really wants them to get them away from playing detectives. As luck would have it, they suddenly find that an heiress aboard their first class carriage has been murdered and the likely culprit is on board with them. It’s an age appropriate variation on the famous Agatha Christie book, Murder on the Orient Express. This book provides delightful look at train travel during those glamorous times but also examines casual racism even among the wealthy and elite because of Hazel and her father’s Chinese ethnicity.”
~ Shobha George, Just Go Places
The Wizard of Oz
One of my daughter's favorite books, The Wizard of Oz, is a true traveler's tale. With Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow setting off on a fantastical journey in search of their deepest desires. In the end, they find they had what they needed all along. But often, it's the journey that matters, not the destination.
~ Colleen Lanin, TravelMamas.com
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