Seven Children’s Books to Inspire Travel

Family Travel

by Jennifer Close

1. Around the World

We have read a lot of guidebooks but the Lonely Planet’s Not-For-Parents Series is the first one we have seen that was truly written with children in mind. The pages are bright, flashy and full of fun facts that your kids will love. There are just a few books in the series and they include New York, Paris, USA, Rome, Australia, Britain and China. We read the New York guidebook and although we still have yet to make it to NYC, I sometimes catch the kids flipping through the book and making plans.

2. Maine

Kid with blueberry

Fellow A Traveler’s Library contributor, Brette Sember, shared her love for one of my favorite books, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. To me, travel does not necessarily mean packing a suitcase and heading out across the country. Our adventures sometimes keep us closer to home and blueberry picking is one of our favorite summer activities. We go blueberry picking every year and we read this book before each trip.

3. The Beach

Florida Sea Shells
Sea Shells found at Pensacola Beach

Next time you are headed to the beach with your family, pick up The Magic of Seashells by Fredlee. We read this book before a trip to the beach and had so much fun trying to identify the seashells we found.

4. Oregon Trail

Buffalo on Oregon Trail

If you have a reader that loves history, the You Choose series might be a good fit. They are interactive historical novels that allow the reader to choose his or her own path by answering the questions and flipping to the coordinating page. We read a story about Westward Expansion. Now that we are closer to the route of the Oregon Trail, we will be reading that book to prepare for our visit.

5. China

Traveling to a country where people speak a different language can be exciting and overwhelming for children. To prepare them, read some books that help teach a few important words. Keryn, from Walkingon Travels recommends a book titled The Pet Dragon if you are planning a trip to China.

6. Aquariums

Myrtle Beach Aquarium
Ripley’s Aquarium, Myrtle Beach.

Nonfiction books are a great way to introduce your children to a new destination, but a fictional account of a place will help them imagine and dream. Before we visit an aquarium, we always reread Swimmy by Leo Lionni. It is one of my favorite books and is a great way to remind children of the different animals in the sea.

7. A Corn Maze

Sharing books that inspire your children to travel is not always easy if they are reluctant readers. If you have a reluctant reader, take a look at what they do read. If there is a book series that interests your child, see if they have a book that goes along with the theme of your trip. For example, my son was reading the Boxcar Children series. Before our corn maze visit, I found a Boxcar Children mystery that takes place in a maze.

8. Bonus Tip

Don’t forget that a book doesn’t have to be specifically about travel or a new destination to inspire. You never know what might trigger your child’s wanderlust. My 8 year old has been reading the Magic Tree House books and recently finished one about Pompeii. For some time, he was obsessed with all things volcano. Be open to what catches their attention and then foster it with new books. If you can’t find a book that addresses the area you are going to visit, check out What Should I Read Next. Put in your child’s favorite book and see what similar suggestions are made. Who knows?

All photos here are used courtesy of Two Kids and a  Links used in this article lead you to longer articles on the particular book or other sources of information.

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

14 thoughts on “Seven Children’s Books to Inspire Travel

  1. This is a great list! I have always loved using books to get my kids excited about travel too. The Lonely Planet series is excellent – my 9 year old loves them! Our most recent finds are the Thea Stilton graphic novels about a girl mouse that travels to interesting places and the 39 Clues series about a brother and sister traveling around the world on a scavenger hunt. My daughter and I have just started the 39 Clues books and I am enjoying them as much as she is – in the first book they spend time in Philadelphia before heading to Paris and in the second they are on their way to Vienna.

    1. Lisa – We LOVE the 39 Clues books in this household! I think we are on the 4th one. We have put them on hold to read up on ski and snowboard books!

  2. I loved your inclusion of Blueberries for Sal. That was a fond favorite of mine when I was a kid.

    I know of a few families living aboard sailboats with their kids who swear by seashell guides in addition to books to identify fish and seabirds. Great idea to use a book while traveling to help kids engage more with the trip.

    1. Pamela – We recently moved to Denver and we were told to get a birding book for the area as well as a tracking book. Our friend told us the best time to look for tracks is after the snow falls and it has been quiet outside. I can’t wait to do this with the kids!

  3. Excellent list! Did you have or \”read\” the book \”Children of many lands\” as a kid? It\’s just photos but I adored it and think it probably changed my life as much as any book ever.Sorry but I can\’t help myself when it comes to travel advice so …. if you\’re getting near the Oregon Trail do NOT miss the Oregon Trail Museum just outside Baker City Oregon. It is fabulous! And, for volcanoes … Mt St Helen\’s National Park of course. @PNW @travel @kids

    1. Wandering Eds – My favorite thing is when my kids read a book that has nothing to do with traveling and ask to go somewhere. After he read the Pompeii book, we looked up volcanoes all over the world and did some serious travel dreaming!

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