Looking for some fun books to encourage your kids to explore the world? I’ve rounded up some of my favorite children’s books about countries of the world to get your kids reading and thinking about the world around us. Scroll to see them all!
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Our family has been doing a TON of reading lately. My oldest is just learning to read, so we’ve been patiently listening 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 get older. Thankfully, there are a lot of beautiful books out there that talk about the differences and similarities of various 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.
12 Children’s Books About Countries of the World
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.
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.
That way the child gets to learn about a different city, state, or country. Think of it as a pen pal cultural exchange.
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.
If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People is part of a book collection called CitizenKid that explores the lives of 100 villagers and allows kids to learn about life in other nations.
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 on their own, but it would also be great for parents to read with their kids so they can talk about it as they go along.
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.
The story is really rich and layered and not only does it show what life was like in Paris, but it gives an interesting look into what it was like to be an orphaned child.
The book has over 300 pages of magnificent pencil drawings that show what Paris life was like way back in the 1930s.
This is a great book 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.
And after you read the book together, watch the movie version (called Hugo) for a family movie night. It’s really beautifully done and has gorgeous sets of Paris.
Boxes for Katje is a whimsical story about a girl named Katje who’s living the town of Olst in Holland during the post-World War II era.
The residents have gone without provisions like sugar, milk, or soap for a while. But through the Children’s Aid Society, a child named Rosie who’s living in America, sends a box of supplies to Katje.
The elated girl sends Rosie a thank you note that leads to Katje receiving a bigger package, which she shares with her neighbors until provisions arrives.
The story gives kids a better understanding of what life was like 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 going on in the world today.
The book Children Just Like Me describes the lives of 44 children from 36 countries, some of whom live in a rural area while others live in bustling and exciting big cities.
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 and this book does an awesome job with that.
Our family loves DK books because they have tons and tons of photos that help my kids understand the content.
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.
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.
Fogg’s drive to explore the world in the 1800s will inspire young kids and teens to take off on their own adventure in the 21st century.
This book is so fun because it takes place in a time where travel was still a bit 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 than the book, but the same concept. Or, see if the play is coming to your city (it’s super funny!)
When you think about children’s books about Paris, Madeline probably is the first book that pops in your mind. It’s been a classic since it was written in the 1950s.
“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 I get instant nostalgia each time I read those lines.
Madeline not only takes the protagonist through a comprehensive tour of Paris, France, but it 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 lots of books in this series and each one has an exciting adventure!
The story, The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon allows the lead character, Harold to use an magical purple crayon to take explosive adventures to places like a fairy tale garden, a circus, and even the planet Mars.
The book inspires children to tap into their imagination and find ways to come up with their own stories.
Because this book is geared for preschoolers and kindergartners, it’s a great way to introduce your kids to the idea of traveling the world (and even beyond!)
And after you read it, you can give your kids their own purple crayon and paper to draw up an adventure of their own.
This is another book that is part of a series, so if your kids like it, there are plenty more to read so you can continue to follow Harold’s adventures.
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.
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 and symbols and compasses to read maps, as well as the various types of maps available like atlas and roadmaps.
The book comes with games and cool facts like why Louisiana is the shape of an easy chair or why 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!)
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.
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.
Given that London is depicted as such a vibrant city in the book, kids will undoubtedly want to pack their bags to have a London adventure of their own, Paddington style.
There are several books in this series, plus it was a TV show, and there are 2 great movies about Paddington Bear which are great for movie nights.
Another fun book is Katie in Scotland, which follows two kids and their grandma on a whirlwind tour of Scotland.
A big plot point of this story is that they end up meeting the Loch Ness monster and become friends. They all end up touring top Scotland attractions like Glasgow’s Kelingrove Park, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood, The Royal Mile, Scotland’s National Gallery and Greyfriar’s 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 going and trying to find Nessie themselves!
So many kids (and even some adults) don’t realize that Africa is the name of a continent made up of lots of countries. The book Africa is Not a Country is a great book to clear that up.
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.
And it’s one where you can just read a page or two at a time and then do your own research to learn more about each country.