Books for young travelers

Holiday shopping: Books for mini travelers

I don’t know about you, but at our house, there have been Christmas lists and letters to Santa showing up for several weeks now.  We do NOT need more toys in our house.  But anything that contributes to our boys’ learning—especially if it relates to our love for travel—is worth our consideration. 

Given the season, I figured it’s a good time to share some recommendations for traveling families!  Over the next several days, watch for gift suggestions for you traveling families.  Most will be focused on kid-travelers, but I’ll probably throw in a few ideas for the parents, as well.  Keep in mind that some of these could be a good suggestion for the grandparents who are struggling to come up with gift ideas for the little ones, so you may want to pass these along!

Today’s recommendations: Books that get the traveler’s mind exploring the world

There are so many options on this front, and they vary greatly by age of the reader, but here are a few that we’ve enjoyed.

Madeline has been one of my favorites ever since I was a kid, and of course these days it’s a favorite for our whole family.  But did you know there’s a Madeline in London, too?  Ludwig Bemelmans does a wonderful job of integrating some great tourist sites into his charming storyline, and playful Madeline seems like she could be a friend to any young child.  The age range, according to Amazon, is 3 to 8 years old, which sounds about right at our house.  While the author’s grandson added a few books to the series (including Madeline in Rome and Madeline at the White House), I’ve not read those, so you may want to take a look at reviews before taking the plunge.

For younger kids, including toddlers, maybe you want to just introduce them to the world of fine art.  We’ve loved sharing the Mini Masters series with our boys, especially one of our favorites, A Picnic with Monet.   These board books have stood the test of four boys at our house, and our visit to the Musée d’Orsay recalled many of the paintings included in that one.  The books combine playful, rhyming text with several of the artists’ better known works.  Stocking stuffers for the littlest ones?

For budding readers—or good listeners—our boys have also enjoyed the Magic Tree House series. These books follow kids Jack and Annie through a series of time-travel adventures to places of historical significance, whether running from the falling rock and ash in Pompeii (book 13), meeting up with Gustave Eiffel and Thomas Edison atop the Eiffel Tower (book 35), or getting lost in one of the Great Pyramids (book 3).

Another series we’ve tried out and have enjoyed is the picture-book series by Miroslav Sasek, including This is Paris.  These wonderful books, originally written and illustrated in the 50s and 60s, provide a great introduction to the sights, sounds, and culture for each city.  The artwork is creative and the wording is clever.  From the Paris edition, I especially enjoyed the old “dame” carrying a baguette that is just about as long as she is tall.  Also available: London, San Francisco, New York, Rome, and lots of others.  I admit I’m tempted to get the entire set for our library.

One last set that we’ve not read but have heard good things about is that of Bella and Harry, two traveling Chihuahuas who tour the world together.  These ones are listed as appropriate for kindergarten through third grade.  On their website, they even have lesson plans, activities, and additional resources for bringing the books (and cities) to life for your young ones.

Do you have any other favorite books that you’ve used to introduce kids to far-off places?  Or maybe you grew up with a book that prepared you for study abroad or tourism in a favorite spot away from home?  Please share—it’d be great to have personal recommendations to expand our library and get our kids ready for our next adventure!

2 replies
  1. Kristy
    Kristy says:

    There’s also a Museum ABC, put out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for the toddler set. We had one from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston when our kids were babies, they were great. Simple text with “A is for Apple,” but then pictures from the museum which would make it great for a scavenger hunt to find those paintings when those kids go to the Met (or in our kids’ case, when we went to the museum in Boston). There’s also a 123 book, with pictures from the museum. Great when prepping for a trip to NYC.

  2. Kristy
    Kristy says:

    We started on the Katie series, by James Mayhew, before we took the kids to some of the European museums–“Katie and the Starry Night,” “Katie Meets the Impressionists,” and more. They’re great, informative and very cute.


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