25 Books Let Kids Travel Without Leaving Home

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

travel books for toddlers: Good Night Philadelphia is one of many in 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.

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 know it by heart years Tiny Traveler outgrew it.

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 city’s landmarks and nods to their culture, too.

Travel Books for Kids

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.

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

Best for: Grades K to 2

‪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 pre-K to 1

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 K to 3

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!”

We concur Tiny Traveler loves the funny stories of a debonair traveling rat and his trouble-making duck friend.

Best For: Grades 2 to 4

8. We 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 to Paris and Edinburgh and have one for our hometown of New York.

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

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

His Precious Ramotswe Mysteries for kids deserve way more attention. The mysteries are a kid-friendly vehicle for introducing children to the landscape and culture of Botswana. And it works.

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

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. “My tween daughter loves them.”

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

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

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. It has nothing to do with the bizarre Disney Movie (aside from the lovable car) and is a fun, rollicking family adventure across the English and French countrysides.

Best For: Grades 3 to 7

13. It’s impossible to not want to visit London after following Paddington Bear through it in the very funny and very British original early chapter books like A Bear Called Paddington.

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

‪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.”

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

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

It’s also valuable for families that want to learn more about the fascinating country.

Best For: Grades 3 to 6

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 Is and Where Is series are all great books that amuse kids while educating them.

Best For: Grades 2 to 5

the travel book recommendations from FamiliesGo! on our Amazon Page.

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.

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

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

Best For: Grades 4 to 7

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

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

Others 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.

Best For: Grades 4 to 7

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

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

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.

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