Updated November 2020

I love books. So do my husband and my daughter. We use fiction and non-fiction books to learn about places we visit.  And we rely on stories to learn about places we have not yet gotten to.  

A good book can give kids a sense of place and expose them to art, history and culture on their level, and all from home.

And books make great presents. My daughter regularly revisits her books and some favorites hang around well after she’s outgrown them.

Here are 25 books (or series) about the world and the people who live in places all around it for kids of all ages.

The age guides are flexible; give or take a year on most of them. I hope at least one makes it into your house this year. And I hope they inspire your kids’ travel ideas.

25 Books That Inspire Kids To Travel The Globe

Travel Books for Preschoolers

The Good Night Series

1. I brought Good Night New York City with us the first time I took Tiny Traveler walking around midtown Manhattan, pointing out the real-life versions of the pictures in the book.

Her eyes lit up as she made the connection and learned books could be about real places.

The extensive Good Night Our World Series introduces little ones to their hometown or state and many places beyond.

The World Snacks Series

travel book for toddlers: yum yum dim sum teaches about chinese culture through food.

2. Yum Yum Dim Sum is part of Amy Wilson Sanger’s World Snacks series that covers Japanese, Mexican, Indian and Jewish foods, too.

But this one is my favorite for the fun rhymes and clever graphics.

We read it so many times at home (and over dim sum), I can still recite it years Tiny Traveler outgrew it.

Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline Collection

3. Everyone loves Madeline as a story about a spunky French girl. But Ludwig Bemelman’s books about Paris and London are full of their cities’ landmarks and nods to their culture, too.

Travel Books for Kids

The I See The Sun Series

travel books for kids: I see the sun

4. Becky Mladic Morales at Kid World Citizen recommends the ‪ I See the Sun series. It introduces early school-age kids to places like Nepal, Russia and even Afghanistan through the eyes of other children. The books are bilingual, too.

The Travels With Bella Series

travel books for kids with Bella.In this one she rides a cyclo and has other fun in Vietnam

5. Jessie Voigts‪ at Wandering Educators likes the Travel with Bella picture books that depict Singapore and Vietnam through the eyes of a visiting American girl.

Best for: Grades K to 2

The Biblioburro, Set In Colombia

6. Kirsten Maxwell‪ at Kids are A Trip recommends Waiting for the Biblioburro, based on a real-life traveling librarian in Colombia.

Best for: Grades pre-K to 1

The Dodsworth Series

7. Marisa Langford‪ at Adventures of Tampa Mama says, “We love the Dodsworth books. Dodsworth in Rome, Dodsworth in London, and so on are so great to read and then discuss places!”

I took these our of the library on Marisa’s recommendation and my family loved this series about a debonair traveling mouse and his trouble-making duck friend. They also go to New York, Tokyo and Paris

Best For: Grades K to 2

M. Sasek’s This Is… Series

8. Tiny Traveler and I cannot get enough of Miroslav Sasak’s cool, retro, “This Is…” books.

These giant picture books with a 1950s feel deliver cities like Paris, New York, Venice, Rome, San Francisco and even Cape Kennedy to kids with fun fact nuggets and amazing art.

We’ve taken them on our trips to Paris, London and Edinburgh and have one for our hometown of New York.

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

The Precious Ramotswe Mysteries Series

9. It’s not unusual for Tiny Traveler and I to both be reading alexander McCall Smith books at the same time.

His trio of Precious Ramotswe Mysteries for kids deserves way more attention than they have received.

The mysteries are a fun, kid-friendly vehicle for introducing children to the landscape and culture of Botswana. And it works.

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

The Recipe for Adventure Series

kids travel book series by giada delaurentis features two kids around the world and includes recipes.

10. Shannon Entin at 100 Routes Across America likes Giada De Laurentiis’ Recipe for Adventure series that takes kids to Naples, Paris, Hong Kong, and New Orleans.

The books include recipes at the end, adding an extra cultural dimension to staycation reading or trip preparation.

“My tween daughter loves them.”

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

The Genius Files Series

11. Michele Chan-Thomson‪ at Malaysia Meanders ‪ likes The Genius Files series about a set of road-tripping twins.

“They are humorous action/suspense books set during trips to various offbeat tourist spots across America.”

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

The Original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

chitty chitty bang bang takes a family in a flying car on an adventure across the U.K. and France

12. We read Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while road-tripping one summer. And I thought it was a really fun book and another under-read gem.

It has nothing to do with the bizarre Disney Movie (aside from the lovable car).

In the book the family heads to a day at the beach and gets caught up in a rollicking adventure chasing thieves across the English and French countrysides.

Best For: Grades 3-6

The Paddington Bear Series

13. It’s impossible to not want to visit London after following Paddington Bear, sticky with marmalade, around the city for a few books.

The very funny and very British series is not as old as I always assumed it was. It launched in the late 1950s with A Bear Called Paddington, The books are relatable and have the right sort of ridiculousness that sets kids giggling and parents can appreciate, too.

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

The Thea Stilton Series

‪14. Chan-Thompson also recommends the Thea Stilton Adventures and notes that reading Thea Stilton and the Cherry Blossom Adventure with her kids, “inspired me to book our springtime trip to Kyoto and Tokyo.”

This is another recommendation we took from this list. Tiny Traveler had tried the companion Geronimo Stilton series but preferred this one with its female protagonist.

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

Tua And The Elephant, Set in Thailand

15. ‪Chan-Thomson‪ also says that Tua and the Elephant “is an excellent read” for families planning a visit to Thailand, especially Chiang Mai.

It’s also valuable for families that want to learn more about this fascinating country, whose culture should be far more familiar to us than it is.

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

The Where Is Series

travel books for kids: where is the great wall focuses on Chinese history in a fun and kid-friendly way.

16. Maxwell‪ at Kids are a Trip also likes Where Is the Great Wall? for its ability to weave Chinese history and culture into the story of the building of the wall.

The Who, What and Where Is series are all great books that amuse kids while teaching them all kinds of U.S. and global history.

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

The Taylor & Rose Series

Peril In Paris takes young spies Taylor & Rose on spying adventures just before WWI.

17. The Taylor & Rose books by Katherine Woodfine are my Tween’s newest favorites.

The series, with titles like Peril in Paris, Spies in St. Petersburg and Villains in Venice, follows two young women spying on behalf of the British government in the lead-up to WWI.

They can be hard to find in the U.S. but we keep our eyes peeled on Amazon, where they usually show up fairly quickly after their U.K. release.

They can be available on Kindle before print.

Best For: Grades 4-8

Lonely Planet’s Not For Parents Travel Books

18. Ann Belle at Kids Travel Books likes Lonely Planet’s Not For Parents Travel Books. “Their format is really fun, even if you aren’t actually traveling.”

These are fun books about the world, as well as destination guides that are specific (London) and broad (Africa).

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

The Travels With Gannon & Wyatt Series

19. Belle also recommends the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series. She says they are, “more stories than travel guides” that take twin protagonists from Greenland to Botswana to Egypt and beyond.

Best For: Grades 4 to 7

Blue Balliett’s Art Mysteries

20. Maxwell‪ is also keen on a series art-themed mysteries centered on two kids who live in Chicago by Blue Balliett. The Wright 3 revolves around Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. Another centers on works by Vermeer and another, set in England, involves a Calder sculpture.

Best For: Grades 4 to 7

The My Story Series

‪21. Angela Tiffin‪ at Traveling Karma likes the My Story series from Scholastic that looks at places in history through the fictional diaries of teenage girls.

The ’45 Rising; The Diary of Euphemia Grant is set in Scotland during the Jacobite uprising.

Other books in the series take on the Irish Famine, the French revolution and the Berlin Olympics.

Best For: Grades 4 to 8

‪22. The Guggenheim Mystery and the London Eye Mystery feature two of the world’s most famous tourist attractions in New York City and London, respectively.

The former is by Robin Stevens, who has single-handedly turned my Tween into an anglophile with Murder Most Unladylike Series.

Best For: Grades 4 to 7

The Roman Mysteries Series

23. Claudia Laroye‪ at The Travelling Mom likes The Roman Mysteries, in which the young Flavia Gemina sleuths around ancient Vesuvius, Rome, Pompeii and more.

“They’re great on audiobooks as well!”

Best For: Grades 7 to 9

Travel Books For High schoolers

Diary of a Tokyo Teen For Manga Fans

24. Get your Manga-loving tween or teen to read an actual book by offering them Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Travels to the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes.

Written by a Japanese-American teen who returnd to Japan at 16 to discover her roots, the book is part teen diary and part travelogue.

You might want to start saving for the trip to Japan before you give it to them though.

Best for: Grades 7-11

Irving Stone’s Famous-Artist Bios

travel books for teens: lust for life focuses on the life and art of Vincent Van Gogh.

25. For teens interested in art or in European cities, travel blogger Lisa Nass Grabelle‪ suggests Irving Stone’s The Agony and The Esctasy, which bring Michelangelo’s art to life in Italy and Lust for Life, which does the same for Van Gogh in Amsterdam.

“I read them before my first trips to those countries as a teen, and had my daughter read The Agony before her first trip to Italy.”

Best for: Grades 10 and up.