Ten Favorite Children’s Travel Books

I’ve just spent the last month traveling around the North Island of New Zealand with my husband and our four year old son and two year old daughter. Before having children, my husband and I were devoted travelers, saving up our money then blowing it all over a period of months until we had to come back and put our noses to the grindstone so could afford to do it again (in fact, this was our fourth time to New Zealand). We swore when we had kids that we wouldn’t let that change. But as with many things that I professed I’d do once I became a parent, traveling fell somewhat by the wayside. It became more important to travel cross country to visit the grandparents yearly instead of blowing our entire bank account in Southeast Asia. And once we had TWO in the picture, even saving enough up for the trip in the first place was a different story. Anyhow, yada yada yada, we finally just found ourselves in a place where we had to do it. For one thing, living in Hawaii, we’re already halfway to New Zealand. For another thing, life and work had just put too heavy of a stamp on family time. We needed to get away and be together. So we flew the rest of the way across the Pacific, rented a campervan, buckled the kids into their carseats and we were off. And it was, by far, the best trip we’ve ever been on. I got a lot of skeptical looks when I told people we were traveling so far with kids so young and all in a contained motorhome, but let me tell you something. Kids are adaptable creatures. And boy, they just rocked it. Sure it was a long plane ride, sure my daughter got…antsy. But we took it slow, steered clear of an itinerary, and made sure they had their familiar comforts (blankets, stuffed what-have-yous). Whereas before when we’d arrive somewhere new, we’d find the nearest pub, order a pint and try and figure out what was going on, this time when we’d arrive somewhere new, we’d hightail it to the first playground we came across, let the kids get their yayas out, and try and figure out what was going on. Anyhow, I’m really just saying, if you have an opportunity to take your kids traveling, do it. If you already have, comment below and tell us about it!

I’ve made a list of some really wonderful children’s books about travel. I’m particularly excited about this list- each book is just so wonderful!

Migrant by Maxine Trottier

Anna is part of a family of Mennonite migrant workers, who make the journey from Mexico to Canada each year working on farms. The story captures her feeling of constant movement, her desire to be rooted. It’s a sensitive book, to be sure, and thought provoking.

Around the World in 80 Tales by Saviour Pirotta

This hefty book is comprised of, wait for it, 80 stories from around the globe. Each diverse tale, organized by continent, is fairly short (a couple of pages) with a moral at the end. It’s just a plethora of culturally diverse stories and with the rich illustrations, it’s easy to get pulled in and read “just one more.”

Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie

There are several Toot and Puddle books, and they’re all travel-related and very sweet. The original is one of our favorites: Toot goes off to travel the world while his best friend Puddle has his own adventure at home. The illustrations are amazing, the characters lovable.

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattinson

A South Carolina man can’t break away from work to visit his niece in California, so he builds a wooden man to go in his stead, pinning a note on him asking travelers who give him a ride to send postcards as he goes. They do, and these letters form the story of Oliver’s travels. Wouldn’t it be fun to follow someone’s travels by the postcards of their traveling companions?

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Well, of course, isn’t this the most classic tale of adventure? Young Max sails “in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.” The excitement! The fear! The adventure! And finally, the feeling of being ready to go home. We actually have three copies of this book in our library- two of them, ahem, just happen to be thirty something years old.

Miranda the Explorer by James Mayhew

A little girl’s misadventure takes her hot air balloon around the world, to the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and finally safely home. I always love a book with a brave and resourceful heroine, and the illustrations in this book really take it to the next level.

Henri’s Walk to Paris by Leonare Klein

I kind of wish I could have this bold cover framed on my wall, I just love it. In fact, each illustration inside is more delightful than the one before. The story is about a small town boy in France dreaming of living in Paris, and he decides one day to just start walking. This is such a creative book, and one of my favorite finds of the year!

Along a Long Road by Frank Viva

Here’s another book of fantastic graphics! The road winds through each page, the bicyclist rides through town, to the sea, through the country, and of course it’s about the journey rather than the destination. What a fun story to read aloud!

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

A creative story of finding just the right ingredients in just the right places around the world to make the perfect apple pie. We’re taken to Vermont for apples, Sri Lanka for cinnamon, and England for butter among other mouth watering places. Colorful illustrations, and even a recipe for apple pie in the back!

The Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs

Here’s a great one for young readers about to embark on perhaps their first flight, experienced little flyers remembering the sounds on the plane, or just kids who love making “Whirrrr!” and “Ker-ooosh!” sounds. The rhyming text explains all the strange sounds we hear between boarding and landing. It’s  the kind of book that gets memorized and excitedly read back to you.

Do you have any to add to the list that I’ve missed?


15 thoughts on “Ten Favorite Children’s Travel Books

  1. Gah, a month in New Zealand?! I am five shades of green 🙂 My 16-year-old and I just did 5 weeks on the West Coast and it was great, but …New Zealand!. Bravo for traveling with those two, and I am eager to dig into your blog. It looks fantastic! Thanks for following Orange Marmalade!


  2. Your trip reminds me of our own trips to Thailand with our boys. Yes, they are adaptable little beings. We also did the save every penny then pack up for months at a time type travel in our youth. It was wonderful going overseas for long periods with our babes, even though there are certainly trials. Nothing compares to seeing things fresh again in their young eyes. I absolutely loved Toot and Puddle, too. Did you bring books along, or buy them on the trip? A couple books were always a welcome addition to our shopping. What did you read for yourself? Or did you have any time to do that? I don’t think I read any books until my youngest was in kindergarten (that weren’t for his benefit) and by first grade my second son came along and I was back to no reading again for a bit. I missed you. Glad you had a great trip!


  3. Anne, I love when you post pictures of your boys in Thailand! And you’re right- seeing these kids meet and love a place that we’ve loved for so long was awesome. We brought along probably 8 or 10 books and bought a few more on the road- I find books make the best souvenirs. We brought along “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” “Ladybug Girl,” “Greyfriar’s Bobby,” “Ferdinand,” and “The Paperbag Princess.” There were a few others that I can’t think of right now. For myself, I finished the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series, and got started on one called “The Book of Dahlia.” I definitely have less time to read these days, but if I get totally sucked into a book, I find the time, you know? If not, I linger for a while. What about you? What are you reading these days?


    • I’m in the middle of The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy which is a quiet thoughtful western about a boy traveling alone with a wolf and then returning home to find himself a changed person. It’s very good. I also really enjoyed Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson about a beautiful relationship which develops in a small English village between two widows from different backgrounds. It takes me forever to finish things. I did love The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series, especially the second one! That was my favorite. Are you going to watch the films, now? I thought they were very well done.


      • The second book had my heart beating out of my chest, I had to begin the third right away! I saw the first of the Swedish versions of the books and loved it, but can’t wait to see Daniel Craig as Mikael!


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  5. Hooray to you and your husband for continuing to travel with your children!! We have visited many countries with our own children over the years. Our unforgettable experiences enriched each of us, but most importantly the worldview of our children and now how comfortable they are in any environment. My teenage daughter has traveled with friends in Europe and will be heading to Africa this summer to broaden her premed education in tribal villages. I know her thirst for travel was influenced by the many trips our family took despite how crazy people thought we were. Enjoyed your travel book list. Thank you! P.S. New Zealand is a favorite destination of ours…..did you or your husband do any bungee jumping off bridges? 🙂


    • Wow, thanks! As I said, this was our 4th trip to NZ, we even eloped there. The first and third times we spent a lot of time on the South Island, second and fourth were all North Island. And never once have we gone bungee jumping! We’ve done an awful lot of hiking and fly fishing, but honestly I just don’t have that need for adrenaline! We’re pretty medium-core that way. I love that your daughter is spreading her wings and going to Africa, how wonderful! I wonder what’s next?


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