Family Travel: Best Kids Travel Books for Under 6s
It will come as no surprise that as an author, mother and travel blogger, putting together this list of the best kids travel books was an absolute joy! When I first thought about the travel-related books most loved by my two boys, who are aged one and four, I thought I'd maybe come up with a list of ten or so, but actually it sort of became a life of its own, and you'll find recommendations for over 20 kids travel books and a selection of fiction and non-fiction.
I haven't included country or destination specific books (unless they are for a range of books that feature many places), but I have included kids travel books with more generic settings that would show a different part of the world to children.
Best Kids Travel Books
There were so many books that I was able to create another blog post entirely listing the best travel guide books and maps/atlases because this felt like a category with so many books in it that it could stand alone. So while I do still include a few books with maps and more travel guide-esque content, for a more comprehensive list of these kind of books you should check out this post sharing the best kids' world travel guides (and this list is for kids of any age from babies through to tweens and teens).
I also was going to have a section of travel-themed baby books within this post but in the end there were so many that this list also deserved a post of its own. You can find my best baby travel books here - please do check it out as many of these books would also be popular with toddlers and preschoolers too! And if you're looking for travel books written by Black and Brown authors featuring kids of colour, this is a great list.
FURTHER READING: Don't focus only on books for your baby! Find out about some great reads and indulge your wanderlust for one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with this reading list of the best books about Amsterdam.
I also feel the need to explain why this selection of travel books for children are really for kids aged 6 and under. This is simply because my kids aren't yet much older than this age and so it felt right and more authentic to only talk about books aimed at this age group because I don't have much experience reading books with older kids yet. As and when my kids get older and we add more travel-related books to our shelves, I will absolutely update this list accordingly.
So without any more ado about from a short disclosure let's get stuck into this list of the best travel books for kids!
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. You don't pay extra, but I make a small commission off any purchase you do make. Thanks so much for supporting this blog.
Best Non-Fiction Kids Books About Travel
While some of these books are clearly for older kids and even children over the age of 6, I would say that most kids over the age of 2-2.5 will find something interesting in many of the books listed in the below selection.
My first son really started to fall in love with books when he was around 18 months old and while I'm not sure he was always following a story, I know that he would absorb the pictures and words, and once he was able to, he would also start to ask questions about the things I was saying, sometimes during the reading session itself but often some time later at random times of the day.
Babies and toddlers that are younger than that may still enjoy them, but the titles listed in my post with travel books for babies would be better choices, I think.
Explorers by Nellie Huang - It's fair to say this book is one of the reasons I am writing this blog post because it was this book that suddenly really nurtured my son's interest in the world, travel and exploring. It's so obviously well-researched and Nellie has done brilliantly writing it as a book that can be read with parents and young children, as well as read by early readers solo. I also love that this book doesn't sugarcoat the very real and very dark side of colonialism and it also includes non-white explorers from all parts of the world. I have to say, I learned so much reading this book so maybe it's one to get even if you don't have any kids!
Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers - You will learn fast (from any list of books for children) that I love Oliver Jeffers. (His book Stuck is easily a Top 5 for my son.) And this book is really quite special at introducing not only the rich wonders of the world for children, but also highlighting the world's rich diversity, fragility and humanity. I love that it was written by Jeffers just after his first child was born as he "tried to make sense of it all" - I think most parents can relate to this sentiment.
Home by Carson Ellis - Not strictly speaking a book about travel, rather the opposite, the concept of home, but this book sharing beautiful illustrations of the different kinds of houses and buildings and spaces we call "home" will open eyes of kids (of any age!) as they come to learn how many different ways we build and love our homes around the world. It feels both world-expanding but also just as importantly, connecting and inclusive.
David Attenborough (Little People, Big Dreams Series) - Another book that would be great for early readers and older kids in this age group, this book documenting the life and work of David Attenborough, how he came to be so interested in nature and the world will capture kid's imaginations and turn their attention to the rich biodiversity of the world. I love the Little People, Big Dreams Series of books especially their volumes on black men and black women in history and our present day.
Usborne Look Innside an Airport by Rob Lloyd & Stefano Tognetti - Definitely one that younger kids (and their busy hands!) will enjoy, this lift-the-flap hardcover book shows children what to expect and what to look at for at an airport. It's a great book to get your kid/s excited for their first flight and with over 50 flaps to open and look under, it will keep them happy for some time! The same author and illustrator team also created Look Inside Things That Go which introduces other modes of transport.
Usborne Look Inside Our World by Emily Bone - If you have a toddler busy looking inside an airport, get this book for their older sibling. Yes, I guess it could strictly be called an atlas but I think it offers more insight and depth than that as older kids (think 4+) will love getting to know the planet they live on a bit better both from the viewpoint of travel but also in terms of human and physical geography.
The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book - If you want to introduce the concept of world travel to your children - rather than "just going on holiday" then this really is the best book. Introducing over 200 countries and the things that can be explored in each one, this is something of a kid's travel bible and from an early age will encourage them to do responsible, respectful research for any future trip.
National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space - Why limit your kid's view of travel to just that which is done on earth? Space travel may not be attracting many passengers yet, but it's a mode of travel that continues to fascinate young children so indulge their interest with this book. We have lots of Little Kids First Big Books, and while our favourite is the one about dinosaurs (we read it the whole way through at least once a week) this one is a close second!
The Flag Book by Lonely Planet Kids - My four-year-old son is just starting to get interested in flags and so I am looking forward to getting a book like this one one day and letting him explore the many different kinds of flags that exist. There is also an and the activity version if you think there is no chance of your kid reading this book without wanting to also draw their own flag or ten!
Best Kids Fiction Books About Travel
The following fiction books about travel for kids are suitable for children aged 2-6 depending on their individual development curve. My first son was quite slow to enjoy reading any book that didn't have flaps or things to touch until he was about 18-20 months, and even then he would need lots of pictures or images to look at. Sometimes, it feels like he still does, at age 4.5 years!
But my youngest son, who is now 15 months, he is much more tolerant of books that are just pictures and I find he even already likes the books that have short rhyming sentences. He doesn't seem to be following a story yet but he already has favourite books that he points to and many that he insists I read over and over (and over!) again.
Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers - See I told you we loved Oliver Jeffers in our house! This story about a boy who is visited by a penguin one day is much more about friendship than it is travel, but it is the journey of taking the penguin home, sailing through good weather and bad, that really seals the deal for the boy and his penguin and so it has a lovely message to give little kids about journeys both metaphorical and real!
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak - There's a reason this book is so popular (it was one of the top ten most checked-out books from the New York Public Library) and has charmed kids since in 1963 when it was first published.
Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr Seuss - Although we don't actually have this book at home, it felt almost criminal not to put it on this list of the best kids travel books as it's one I have read many times (as a child and an adult) and every time I do it reminds me of that sense of adventure and possibility that I love about travel.
Island by Mark Janssen - This Dutch children's book illustrator and author makes the most colourful books (his most famous one is the brilliant Stop! Monsters!) where the pages are completely full of colour and detail, and this one is really something to study again and again. It's a wordless book so kid can make up their own stories (a new one each time they open the book, perhaps!) but the over-arching theme is that a father and daughter who are stranded on an island that quickly shows its new residents the many wonders of their surroundings with a few surprises along the way.
Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown - Again, another book that isn't exactly about travel specifically but travel is indeed part of the book's over-arching storyline which sees Mr Tiger abandon the confines of a city and go wild in the wilderness. We love this book as much for what it teaches kids about individuality as it does the joy of just being free!
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler - Another journey that is defined by a bond of friendship, the story of the snail and the whale is all about wanderlust from the outset and Scheffler's iconic illustrations will show children just some of the wonders of the natural world. There is also an important lesson to learn in this story, but I won't give away any spoilers! There are also some really fun sticker books, and activity books that are The Snail and the Whale themed, as well as this adorable cuddly toy.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury - Arguably one of the most popular children's books EVER, I can't tell if Bear Hunt is so well loved because it's about adventure, about family, or both. Either way, going on a journey is the key theme in this book and both my boys love it when we read it together all cuddled up together. I also saw that there's a special pop-up version and one with sounds too.
Are We There Yet by Alison Lester - Alison Lester is considered the queen of Australian's children's literature so as my boys have an Aussie dad it felt right to include this book on the list. It's also very apt because if you have ever gone on any journey with a 4-year-old, even just to the supermarket, you are almost certain to hear the word "Are we there yet? pop out of their mouths. So yes, this book is a wonderful one for talking about journeys and travels - specifically into the Australian outback - thanks to the playful illustrations, and you should also check out Imagine for the same reasons.
The Way Home for Wolf by Rachel Bright & Jim Field - We have all four of the brilliant books produced by Bright and Field and we bought this one, their most recent, the day it came out practically. Telling the story of Wilf, a wolfling, who gets separated from the pack and has to find his way home, it brings to life a different world where snow covers the ground, ice makes travel hard and magical light shows dazzle the night sky. It's definitely a book to introduce colder climates to kids while also emphasising the importance of asking for help on any journey. (If you love Australia, you should also get their book The Koala Who Could, and for an African safari themed story, get their first one, The Lion Inside.)
Whatever Next by Jill Murphy - Definitely better for younger readers (1-3 year olds) but could still be picked up again by an early reader, this much loved book about Baby Bear's adventures just before bath time manages to capture the imagination of any kid curious about the moon as well as bring with it the comfort of home and routine.
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman - Another book that is more about home than travel, this book showcases a richly diverse school where all cultures, traditions and people are celebrated, and how sometimes we go on one-way journeys to start a new life somewhere else. It's a great book to read to kids who are about to start school and you can pause to discuss where in the world people are from and how they end up in the same place, where they are all welcome.
Another by Christian Robinson - Rounding off this list with two books that have no words! Yes, really. This one, a recent-ish publication tells a dream-like story of a young girl and her cat who are woken in the night and pulled to enter a different universe. On their travels they explore many different scenes and it's up to your kid/s (and you!) to put together the story.
The Yellow Balloon by Charlotte Dematons - A book that you can find on nearly every single Dutch child's bookshelf, The Yellow Balloon, or De Gele Ballon, is a beautiful and big picture book where the child is tasked with spotting a yellow balloon on each page. Of course, there is so so so much more to look at as the yellow balloon flies around the world, and that is why this book is so popular in our house, and many other houses!
And those are my recommendations for best kids travel books! When other great childrens travel books land in our hands or shelves, and they deserve a place on this list, I will update it but for now, here are some images you can pin to save or share this post, if you'd like.
Frances M. Thompson
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