As we enter holiday shopping season, it is time to think about thoughtful gifts for all the people we love, the big ones and the small ones. I happen to think that travel is one of the best experiences you can give to the young. It is one of the only purchases that makes you richer!
Books also fit that category. Why not kindle your (grand)kids’ curiosity about far-off places and cultures with some good books? Here are a few we recommend for young children. It is far from a definitive list, so please add your favorites in the comments section!
And while many of us will turn to big online shopping sites to source these and other reads, consider shopping smaller and smarter. Visit your neighborhood bookstore, or shop online at Better World Books. They are a B Corp like us, selling and donating used books and funding literacy programs with their profits.
Here are some good titles to look for.
Olivia Goes to Venice – Everyone’s favorite pig takes on La Serenissima to dire consequences. Her family rides a gondola and eats too much gelato, just like typical tourists! Follow Olivia as she bucks Italian vanity, cuts a brutta figura, lusts after Murano glass, and falls in love with this magical city.
A Walk in … series (Paris, New York, London) – Enjoy a little stroll about town, taking in the sights and local life of the city. Editions on New York, Paris, and London feature stylized maps, clever illustrations, famous sights, and local experiences shared by a child and parent or grandparent on their day out together.
Knuffle Bunny Free – My son will not allow me to make any list of favorite kids’ books without mentioning Mo Willems. While this book is more about growing up and letting go, the action unfolds on a family trip to Holland, complete with a flight, train ride, windmills, frites, and cafes.
Madeline and the Cats of Rome – Everyone’s favorite little French school girl and her class take a trip to sunny Rome. When she tracks down a stolen camera, she makes a new friend and discovers the stray cats of Rome. See also Madeline in London.
The Adventures of Bella & Harry series (Let’s Visit …! books cover Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Venice, Istanbul, Athens, Berlin) – These are two lucky chihuahuas! Join them as they travel with their family on global adventures, discovering new foods, cultures, and sights along the way. They dig into the cultures in a fun and engaging series of stories.
Grammy Takes Logan to Switzerland and Grammy Takes Foster to Switzerland are whimsical interactive e-books written by Untourist and intrepid grandmother Janet McCrea Dieman. Enjoy these books that take you into the heart of the Swiss travel experience she shared with her grandsons in Switzerland, capturing the sights, sounds, and culture of the country they love.
This is … series (London, Rome, Paris, Venice, Greece, Munich, the World) – M. Sasek’s classic picture books about travel first appeared in the 1Elizabethkillough0s with brilliant graphic illustrations. These reprints bring them back to life with factual updates for the 21st century, but preserving Sasek’s whimsical and timeless illustrations of each destination’s highlights.
… ABCs: A Book About the People and Places of… series (Germany ABCs, France ABCs, Italy ABCs, and many more) – An alphabetical presentation of cultural highlights for each of the 24 countries in the collection, the ABCs picture book series highlights the basics of a place, its sights, history, culture, food, animals, and people. These are perfect for very young readers.
National Geographic Little Kids’ First Big Book of the World – This first atlas is a bit broad, oriented by continent, with summaries of landscape, climate, sights, and animals per continent. It does include some good maps and an activity for each continent, along with some good instruction on how to read the different kinds of maps. It works as a first atlas for young readers and will only beg more questions. It is a gateway to bigger inquiries and may lead you to buy (or pull out) an adult atlas and dig deeper by country.
And fueling that curiosity is the point, isn’t it? It is a big world out there, and the sooner we get our kids and grandkids interested in it and out exploring it the better! Happy reading. What are your favorite kids travel books?