Best Travel Books for Kids

Whether it’s Fodor’s or Eat, Pray, Love there are plenty of books to inspire the practical side of travel or a bit of wanderlust for Mom or Dad. But what’s on the bookshelf that can inspire the little ones and teens for the family vacation? Plenty!

Child reading outside

© Ittipon | Dreamstime

Harry Potter makes magic for all, of course, especially when it comes to Britain. But did you know that J.K. Rowling lived in Portugal for several years teaching English? The Lello Bookstore has been said to inspire the one described in Hogwarts, and it’s fun to spot the schoolchildren from Porto in their capes — part of the uniform.

It’s not just a cookie, although kids will probably be excited to eat some of those too thanks to Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans’ precocious character whose tales are often told entirely in rhyme. The Catholic schoolgirl’s stories take place in a Paris boarding school.

The This Is series by Miroslav Sasek brings kids to Venice, Paris, Rome and beyond. The author should know — Czech by birth, he spent much of his time in different European countries like West Germany and the author and artist’s delightful series of illustrations are colorful and playful enough to keep imaginations going for hours.

Girl reading on dock by water

© Rozenn Leard | Dreamstime

Lately Lily: The Adventures of a Traveling Girl shows this little heroine’s wonder at being on an airplane on the cover art, but it doesn’t stop there. Illustrator Micah Player’s world traveler gets around via wings, trains, boat and even camel, accompanied by her “best friend,” stuffed animal Zeborah.

The frenetic pace of Tokyo is captured in Maira Kalman’s Sayonara Mrs. Kackleman, where siblings Lulu and Alexander create poems for their Japanese guide, and haikus written by frogs are just as illustrative as colorful kimonos, fish markets and outdoor baths.

Ages 8-12 reach great heights with Barnaby Brocket, whose journeys as an outlier — a boy with the ability to float — bring him all over the world from New York to Brazil, Canada and Ireland. Parents will be jealous about not paying for an extra plane ticket.

Make Way for Ducklings has been used as a White House Christmas decorating theme and as an exchange for peace between Barbara Bush and Raisa Gorbachev, and its whimsy continues to delight readers of all ages. The official children’s book of Massachusetts, it’s a popular tome for most visitors to the state capital of Boston and serves as a sort of walking guide for the city’s most popular attractions — including the statue in the Public Garden park here of the mother duck and her eight ducklings, decorated seasonally with hats and mini sweaters.

The Roman Mysteries, a series of historical novels for children by Carline Lawrence, focus on fascinating stories from four children who try to solve riddles in ancient Rome, Greece and beyond.

Fans of Twilight can satisfy their thirst for mystery and magic with Karou of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, which takes the 17-year-old on evil errands across the globe, including Prague and Morocco.