Travel books aren’t just for the adults – children can love travel books too! The best travel books for kids not only increase their global awareness but also encourage curiosity and develop a travel habit. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That includes not only giving your children a taste of travel but also getting them to read travel books. What’s more, there are books tailored for children of all ages, who can expand their literary and imaginative horizons through these stories. Plus, they get to learn about other cultures and the way people live in other parts of the world.
Whether it’s to educate your children or keep them engaged, travel books more than tick those boxes. As Anna Quindlen put it so well, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home”. So, take your children places and bring them home with this list of amazing travel books we’ve conjured up. No matter whether it’s older kids, teens, tweens, or younger children, we have you covered. Here are 13 inspirational travel books for kids.
How To Choose The Best Travel Books for Kids?
Getting down to the specifics of picking the best travel books for children for long journeys, there are a few aspects you need to keep in mind. In fact, these guidelines below can even be used for other types of books as well, albeit with a few changes, of course. While you’re at that, you might even want to check out the Best Books To Read While Traveling and Best Audiobooks For Road Trips too.
The P.I.C.K method
Since books are subjective, the P.I.C.K. method introduces four key criteria for choosing travel books. To begin with, there’s “Purpose,” which is either educating children or keeping them engaged. Since every book has a different objective, this helps you narrow down choices. Secondly, there’s “Interest,” which means unless your child is interested in that book, chances are they might not enjoy reading it. So, go for those that would connect with your kid, such as magic tricks or magician books if your kid is intrigued by magic. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is a good choice in this category.
Thirdly, there’s “Comprehend,” which is rather an important aspect of the P.I.C.K method. After all, kids need to understand what they read, or the book won’t educate or interest them. Finally, there’s “Know the words,” which says that good travel books shouldn’t have too many unfamiliar words. Stick to the “Five Finger Rule,” which states that books with 0-1 unfamiliar word per page are very easy, with 2-3 unfamiliar words per page are just right, and with 4-5 or more unfamiliar words per page are too difficult.
Consider your child’s age
Children develop differently from one another. So, while one might have far surpassed their ages, others might be developing slower. That said, age is a solid guideline for choosing travel books. Thus, pick up imaginative, vivid, and pictorial books for younger children. For older children, go for something practical, like interesting guidebooks close to real life. The rule of thumb is that younger kids’ books should have more images and less text, and it should be the other way around for older kids.
Letting kids pick books on their own
Some children, including older ones, could even end up picking travel books they want to read on their own. Often, kids can pick travel books that interested them in just a short time by glancing through the pages, looking at the chapters or titles, reading the blurb, or by simply looking at the cover. Also, kids are more likely read something they like at first sight. So, why not let them choose their own books? You never know – they might end up picking more than just one book!
Picking books with durable covers
This is more for parents than it’s for the children. Durability is an important aspect when it comes to books being chosen for long journeys. After all, all children might not be too considerate of the book. It could get shoved around and maybe even come into contact with food. So, the best travel books are probably the ones with hardcovers that won’t bend and are built to last. However, since hardcovers can be expensive and heavy, especially for younger children, maybe get shorter books for them.
What is a good travel book to read for a six-year old?
If your child is at that precocious age of six years where they’re learning and imbibing things, then you have an excellent choice of books to introduce to them. Take The Adventures of Tintin, for example, which not only showcases adventure and bravery but also has tones of friendship. They’ll also love Journey, an extraordinary travel adventure of a girl who travels the world with a red crayon! We’d also recommend Berenstain Bears Around The World, which showcases the travels of the Bear family.
Love and Gelato
If you have a blossoming young adult in the family, then Love and Gelato is one of the best travel books for older kids. Written by Jenna Evans Welch, the book is a young adult tale set amidst the rolling greens of Tuscany, and then Florence. It follows the story of Lina, whose mother is on her deathbed. All she wants is for Lina to get to know who her father is during an Italian summer. However, Lina is an atypical rebellious 16-year old and refuses to go as she doesn’t know anyone there and she doesn’t want to leave her friends behind. However, she does end up in Italy and comes upon a journal that her mom wrote when she lived there.
What follows is a tale of a daughter following her mother’s footsteps and discovering her parents’ story and the Italian countryside. Lina is joined by her charming neighbor Ren as they uncover stuff about her parents more than she ever knew. The best part? She learns a lot about herself along the way and discovers her love for Italy and everything that comes with it.
Children between the ages of 13 and 19 years.
The Adventures of Tintin
Created by Hergé, The Adventures of Tintin is one of the most exciting and iconic travel books ever to be written for children. They take you on a journey around the world with Tintin, who’s accompanied by companion Milou, or “Snowy the dog.” Some of the other main characters are detectives Thomson and Thompson, Professor Calculus, and Captain Haddock, and the stories are available in more than 70 languages! Tintin’s stories such as “Tintin in the Congo” and “Tintin in Tibet” introduce kids to various places and cultures around the world. Add a dash of humor, mystery, action, and fantasy to it, and you’ve got yourself a great set of stories.
The widely-loved “Tintin in Tibet” is one of the most popular Tintin stories, and sees Tintin cross the Himalayas and encounter the mysterious Yeti. The objective for Tintin is to help his friend Chang Chong-Chen, and he’s joined by Captain Haddock and Snowy as they hire a sherpa to help them travel into the Himalayas.
Children aged nine years or younger.
Around the World in 50 Ways
Created for Lonely Planet Kids, Around the World in 50 Ways is, without doubt, one of the most imaginative travel books for kids. This clever interactive book with a travel theme is written by Dan Smith and illustrated by Frances Castle. It follows Zac’s journey that starts from the Tower of London. It then follows him across the globe, before trying to make it back! Kids get to choose their favorite routes and transportation, such as sleds, tuk-tuks, and even hot-air balloons!
They’ll get to visit everything from famous cities and islands to exotic, far-flung destinations, all while learning amazing facts about each place along the way. The fun part is that not every path will take you where you want to go, and if the right route is followed, then you finish right in London. However, if you follow the wrong route, you might end up at many dead ends, and you need to follow another adventure to arrive at the right destination.
Children between 9 and 12 years of age.
Journey by Aaron Becker is one unique and one-of-a-kind travel book. – it’s actually a storybook that’s told via pictures. So, there are no words in the book and kids make use of their imagination to tell the story page by page! The tale begins in New York City when a bored little girl finds a red crayon at home, which she uses to draw pictures. Every picture she draws creates a new adventure or opens a door to a new place. The crayon helps her journey from New York City into a lush forest, then onto an imperial city, before getting on a magic carpet and then flying the skies in a balloon.
This book inspires children to travel as it creates different locations and setting in the same book. It excites children when they see a girl flying in a balloon and want to join her, or are curious to know more about the desert where she flies on a magic carpet.
Children between four and eight years of age.
The Jungle Book
Who doesn’t know and love The Jungle Book? Written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894, it’s one of the most universally-loved classic travel books for kids. However, many people don’t know it as well as they think they do. For one, the book is actually a collection of short stories, rather than being just one story. They’re fables written with the objective of teaching children moral life lessons. It retells the tale about a variety of animals that live in the jungles of central India, and some even have Hindi names. Think Akela the wolf, Bagheera the black panther, and Baloo the bear.
Uniting them all is Mowgli, a young boy and “man-cub” who was raised by the pack of wolves. While he’s the central character in the Disney version, he appears only in some of the book stories. The stories even have characters that don’t feature in the popular Disney version. These include Kala Nag the elephant and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the mongoose. In fact, some of these stories will actually inspire your children to explore the idea of jungle safaris! That said, some 19th-century old-fashioned words might be difficult for younger kids. So, this book is perfect for pre-teens.
Children between 10 and 14 years of age.
Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport
Written by one of the best-loved children’s authors ever, Richard Scarry, A Day at the Airport is one for airport fans. When Lowly, Huckle, and Sally’s sailing day is ruined by rain, their friend Rudolf has other plans. He whisks them on a thrilling sightseeing adventure of discovery to the airport. Your kids can enjoy an up-close look at the runway, control tower, terminal, and more. The book features more than 70 labeled, airport-related words as well as a sticker sheet. Kids can delve into hours of fun with this busy adventure, discovering all that airports have to offer.
If your brood is traveling for the first time, then this is the airplane story to turn to. It’ll get them excited about traveling on a plane and they can learn all about it themselves.
Children between the ages of two and seven years old.
50 Must Read Indian Stories – Places of India
Amar Chitra Katha is an age-old Indian publication that’s the authority when it comes to comic books on Indian mythology and history. It’s no surprise then that 50 Must Read Indian Stories – Places of India the perfect travel book for kids. Its visually attractive comic illustrations and easy language will keep your kids thoroughly engrossed. Places of India is one of the five volumes of 50 Must-Read Indian Stories. It features 10 different historically important destinations across multiple time periods and includes the likes of Jallianwala Bagh, Tirupati, Hampi, Puri, etc. Every story talks from both a mythological and historical point of view for every destination, especially the religious sites.
For Indian families, this book is a great way for kids to remember the stories and relate the gods to the places. For kids from other cultures, it’s a fascinating insight into the Indian culture, architecture, and history.
Children between 8 and 16 years.
If there’s one perfect children’s book that will make you fall in love with the countryside, it’s Heidi. Written by Johanna Spyri, the book is the story of an orphan girl named Heidi who lives with her aunt. She then visits her grandfather who lives contentedly in the lush green mountains of Switzerland. Heidi comes to love the simple countryside life, enjoying and relishing delicious homemade cheese and goat milk. She even befriends a boy named Peter and lives happily in the very lap of nature, relishing delectable homemade cheese and goat milk.
However after a few years, her aunt takes her back to Frankfurt, and Heidi isn’t happy to go and leave her life and her friends in the Alps. In Frankfurt, she does make a friend Clara, who’s a wheelchair-ridden girl, but she misses her grandfather, her life in the countryside, and her friends. Heidi is a wonderful coming-of-age book that offers us a glimpse of the unspoiled countryside life in the splendid Alps and true friendship.
Children between 7 and 10 years.
Berenstain Bears Around The World
One of the most-loved animal travel books for kids is Berenstain Bears Around The World. Written by Mike Berenstain, the book sees the famous Bear family embark on a journey around the world. They’re aided by Doctor Bear and his Anywhere-Anyplace Machine, which transports them places at the touch of a button! So, the Bear family travels to Canada, Mexico, the entirety of the United States, South America, Antarctica, Australia, China, India, and the whole of Europe too.
Berenstain Bears is the perfect book for beginner readers, but older children will love the books too. It inspires children to travel by giving them an idea of all the places they can possibly see and all the cool things and facts they can learn. Moreover, at every place, The Bear family sees different animals indigenous to that place, learn a cool fact, and visit a famous landmark.
Children between four and eight years of age.
Missing Gems of the Taj Mahal
The adventure of a lifetime beckons your children in Missing Gems of the Taj Mahal. Written by Lyndon Cerejo and illustrated by Ananya Chopra, the book is the story of fifth-grade history buff Sid Cooper. He’s just about to visit the Taj Mahal when a setback and a change in plans result in him and his friend Raj being magically transported to the Taj Mahal. The kicker? They’ve gone back 350 years in time when the monument was still being built! Your kids will love reading about Sid and Raj’s magical journey and encounter through ancient India.
They’ll even learn about the history of the gorgeous Taj Mahal and one of the oldest civilizations in the world through Sid and Raj’s eyes. The first book in the Mysteries in History series, this book is one enthralling and historic roller-coaster ride for children.
Children between 5 and 10 years old.
Diary of a Tokyo Teen
Diary of a Tokyo Teen is another excellently illustrated travel book for kids. Written and illustrated by Japanese-American Christine Mari Inzer, the book details her travels to Tokyo at the age of 15 years. She makes the journey solo to reacquaint and reconnect with her country. The lovely book features a mix of topics, illustrations, and pictures, including cultural traditions, cutting-edge fashions, and unfamiliar and unexpected foods. Think a mixture of geishas in Kyoto, the famous fish markets of Japan, and lots of sushi.
At its very heart, this graphic novel will inspire the imagination of your tweens not just about Tokyo, but about Japan in general. Whether it’s urban destinations or rural ones, the Dairy of a Tokyo Teen is as inspiring as it is amazing.
Children between 13 and 19 years old.
The Original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Before he became famous for writing the character of James Bond, Ian Fleming wrote another equally memorable book series – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fleming’s inspiration was “Chitty Bang Bang,” a series of aero-engined racing cars in the early 1920s. The stories revolve around the Pott family whose father, an inventor, renovates an old car that turns into the independent-action-making Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In this particular novel, the Pott family heads to enjoy a day at the beach. In the course of action, they’re caught up in one hell of a rollicking adventure chasing thieves across the French and English countrysides.
The best part? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the Potts family its name before they find out that she can also swim – and fly! In this original story, she’s on a mission to stop a band of criminals in its tracks – and she takes the Potts family with her.
Children between 9 and 12 years.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Topping the list of best travel books for kids is what might be the most universally read and beloved travel book of all time, Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! It’s one book that appeals to all children of all ages. So, it’s just right to read to toddlers and babies, and it’s inspiring for older children too. At the same time, it’s an excellent gift for high school or college graduates as well. Dr. Seuss addresses life’s ups and downs with his signature humorous verse and illustrations. All the while, he also encourages children to look for success that lies within.
It might not cover real-world destinations, but this classic inspires a love of travel through illustrations that conjure wildly exciting locations. More importantly, it inspires curiosity about the world and life. If you want your kids to learn about life lessons like resilience and self-reliance, then there’s no better travel book to turn to.
Children of all ages, ideally between 8 and 14 years old.