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Wander the World with These 12 Best Children’s Travel Books

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children’s Travel Books

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Looking for some fun books to encourage your kids to explore the world? I’ve rounded up some of my favorite children’s travel books to get your kids reading and thinking about the world around us. Scroll to see them all!
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Do you want to prepare your children for your first family vacation? What better way to immerse your kids in different places and cultures than through children’s travel books?

Our family has been doing a TON of reading lately. My oldest is just learning to read, so we’ve patiently listened to him read aloud these past few months.

But I’m also spending a lot of time reading books to my kids. I want them to see easy ways for them to experience the adventure of traveling through storytelling.

Teaching children about other cultures inspires them to explore the world as they age. Thankfully, many beautiful books out there talk about different cultures.

So here are some children’s books about countries of the world for every age that will give kids a head start on understanding the world a little better.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books

12 Children’s Travel Books About Countries of the World

1. Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

In the book Flat Stanley, a boy named Stanley gets flattened by a falling bulletin board and decides to make the best of it by getting mailed to different places via envelope.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Flat Stanley

The book inspired an initiative called “The Flat Stanley Project,” where kids take their Stanley on adventures and take photos of him alongside famous backdrops and landmarks. Kids also keep a paper journal of Stanley’s routine.

Once they’re done, they send the paper version of Stanley along with the photos and journal to another child who has to take photos of Stanley and record his adventure. Then they mail Stanley back to the child that sent him to them in the first place.

It is the perfect book for a child to learn about a different city, state, or country. Think of it as a penpal cultural exchange, making this world a less lonely place.

I first learned about this book series from my friend (who’s a teacher), and she told me it’s always a hit with her students.


2. If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People

If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People is part of a great book collection called CitizenKid that explores the lives of 100 villagers and allows kids to learn about life in other nations.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel BooksL If the World Were a Village

This will give them a better understanding of other cultures while exploring how different life in other countries can be from our own.

Instead of giving overwhelming statistics that might be hard for kids to wrap their heads around, they break it down in a way that’s easier for children to digest.

It’s geared for older kids to read independently, but it would also be great for parents to read with their children so they can talk about it as they go along.


3. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Want to teach kids a bit about Paris and its history? Then get them The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It’s a story about a 12-year-old boy living in the walls of a train station in Paris, France, in the 1930s.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: The Invention of Hugo Cabaret

The story is rich and layered. It shows what life was like in Paris and gives an interesting look into what it was like to be an orphaned child.

The book has over 300 pages of magnificent pencil drawings showing what Paris life was like in the 1930s.

This is one of the great kids’ books to read before a trip to Paris with kids, or it’s a great way to travel there in your imagination. You can even snack on French cookies or pastries to really set the mood.

After you read the book together, watch the movie version (Hugo) for a family movie night. It’s really beautifully done and has gorgeous Paris sets.


4. Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming

Boxes for Katje is a whimsical story about a girl named Katje who’s living in the town of Olst in Holland during the post-World War II era.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Boxes for Katje

The residents have gone without provisions like sugar, milk, or soap for a while. However, through the Children’s Aid Society, a child named Rosie, who lives in America, sends a box of supplies to Katje.

The elated girl sends Rosie a thank you note, leading to Katje receiving a bigger package, which she shares with her neighbors until provisions arrive.

The story gives kids a better understanding of life in Olst while teaching them the valuable lesson of giving to others in need.

Even though this story is set in the 1940s, it’s still very relatable to what’s happening today.


5. Children Just Like Me

The book Children Just Like Me describes the lives of 44 children from 36 countries, some of whom live in rural areas while others live in bustling and exciting big cities.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Children Just Like Me

By exploring the international cultures of places like Israel, China, and Argentina, kids will learn that they are quite different from other children in many ways and yet so similar in others.

Kids love knowing how other kids around the world live; this book does an awesome job with that.

Our family loves DK books because they have tons of photos that help my kids understand the content. They’re well-loved by kids and adults alike.

We have DK books for all kinds of topics (including Star Wars), but this one is my favorite because it really does feel like you are meeting kids from all over the world.


6. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

The old-time classic Around the World in Eighty Days follows protagonist Phileas Fogg and his loyal servant Passepartout as he takes off from London to Egypt, India to Hong Kong, and even to America during the wild-west era.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Around the World in 80 Days

Fogg’s drive to explore the world in the 1800s will inspire young kids and teens to take off on their own adventures in the 21st century.

This book is so fun because it takes place when travel was still uncommon, and it took a lot more effort to get places. It’s a great conversation starter to talk with your kids about their dream travel destinations.

After you read the book, you can watch the movie for a family movie night. It’s a bit different from the book but the same concept. Or, see if the play is coming to your city (it’s super funny!).


7. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

When you think about children’s books about Paris, Madeline probably is the first book that pops into your mind. It’s been a classic since it was written in the 1950s.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Madeline

In an old house in Paris
that was covered with vines
lived twelve little girls
in two straight lines
the smallest one was Madeline.

I grew up reading these books and get instant nostalgia each time I read those lines.

Madeline not only takes the protagonist on a comprehensive tour of Paris, France, but also shows kids how to tour properly when in a group. In other words, stick together, stay out of the metro, and ignore the weather.

What’s awesome about this book is that there are many books in this series, and each has an exciting adventure!


8. The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon

The story The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon allows the lead character, Harold, to use a magical purple crayon to take explosive adventures to places like a fairy tale garden, a circus, and even the planet Mars.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Harold and the Purple Crayon

The book inspires children to tap into their imagination and find ways to come up with their own stories.

Because this book is geared toward preschoolers and kindergartners, it’s a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of traveling the world (and beyond!)

And after you read it, you can give your kids their own purple crayons and paper to draw up an adventure of their own.

This book is part of a series, so if your kids like it, there is plenty more to read, and you can continue to follow Harold’s adventures.


9. There’s a Map on My Lap: All About Maps

There’s a Map on My Lap: All About Maps is a very clever way to teach kids about reading city, state, world, temperature, and terrain maps. It’s like taking your kids to a fantastic road trip!

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: There's a Map on my Lap

Since it’s part of the Cat in the Hat’s learning library, expect to find lots and lots of rhyming. It also teaches them how to use tools like grids, symbols, and compasses to read maps and the various types of maps available, like atlas and roadmaps, to get to many fun places.

The book has games and cool facts like why Louisiana is shaped like an easy chair or Michigan looks like a scarf and a mitten.

After you read it, you can have your kids draw their own map of their favorite place (whether real or imaginary!)


10. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

In A Bear Called Paddington, Mr And Mrs Brown meet Paddington for the first time on a railway platform while waiting for their daughter Judy.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: A Bear Called Paddington

But in true Paddington fashion, the bear goes on an adventure that takes him to various places throughout London, like the theater, the Underground, and Paddington Station.

The book depicted London as such a vibrant city. Kids will undoubtedly want to pack their bags for a London adventure of their own, Paddington style. Check out our 4-day London itinerary for families.

There are several books in this series. It was a TV show, and there are two great movies about Paddington Bear, which are great for movie nights.


11. Katie in Scotland by James Mayhew

Another fun book is Katie in Scotland, which follows two kids and their grandma on a whirlwind tour of Scotland.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Katie in Scotland

A big plot point of this story is that they meet the Loch Ness monster and become friends. They all tour famous Scottish landmarks like Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood, The Royal Mile, Scotland’s National Gallery, and Greyfriars Bobby.

There are a bunch of other books that feature Katie traveling around Europe and studying famous artworks.

While Scotland hadn’t been on our travel bucket list, this book has made my kids very interested in trying to find Nessie themselves!


12. Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight

So many kids (and even some adults) don’t realize that Africa is the name of a continent made up of many countries. The book Africa is Not a Country is great to clear that up.

Wander the World with These 12 Best Children's Travel Books: Africa is Not a Country

This book showcases kids from all across Africa living their lives at school, at home, at work, and at play. These kids live in the city as well as rural areas.

While this book doesn’t really tell a story, it does show glimpses of what a moment in the life of children in different African countries might look like.

It’s one where you can read a page or two at a time and then do your own research to learn more about each country.


Loving this list of the Best Children’s Books About Countries of the World and looking for more books? Check out my favorite baby and toddler books that inspire wanderlust, mermaid books for kids, enchanting travel books for all ages, and New Zealand children’s books!

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