Boy reading with castle in background

8 Books That Let Kids Travel the World Through Stories

There are ways to travel besides getting on a plane or into a car. Thank goodness, given the constraints of school schedules—not to mention the limitations of the pandemic. Books can take children on journeys to different places and times. And books by diverse authors encourage kids to identify and empathize with different cultures and perspectives.

We chose several books that can let kids travel through their pages. They can learn about language, food, music, animals, attractions and more, whether they’re toddlers, grade-schoolers or on the cusp of adolescence. Try these vibrant volumes to bring armchair adventures into your home.

My Little Cities: London by Jennifer Adams

3-5 years

My Little Cities London Cover

This BabyLit board book series for toddler introduces them to shapes, words and illustrations set in major cities around the world. Float along the river Thames, feed pigeons in Trafalgar Square, and spin the London Eye, as you travel to London’s iconic landmarks. You can even plan your next trip using the book as a reference! Adams’ other books in the series journey to New York, San Francisco and Paris. 

Journey of the Freckled Indian: A Tlingit Culture Story

4-7 years

journey of the freckled indian

This delightful tale about a mixed-race Tlingit girl who gets made fun of by her classmates because of her looks offers a message about culture and acceptance. The girl and her grandfather explore the Alaskan wilderness and meet new friends, which helps her gain confidence in her identity. Fishing adventures, mythological characters and land explorations, take you through real places in southeast Alaska as seen through the eyes of a native. 

Run, Little Chaski!: An Inka Trail Adventure by Mariana Llanos

4-8 years

The picture book tells the story of Little Chaski, the Inka empire’s new royal messenger, as he travels the famous Inka Trail in Peru and helps other creatures along the way. The book imparts knowledge about ancient Inca history and culture, Quechua language, Andean animals, and a message of perseverance and kindness. Peruvian-born Mariana Llanos’ story is accompanied by vivid illustrations by Ruiz Johnson. 

A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by U’ilani Goldsberry 

4-10 years

Written and illustrated by native Hawaiians, A is for Aloha introduces young readers to one of the most-visited places on Earth. The rich details and fantastic illustrations too. Little ones can learn the meaning of the word aloha, the state bird, the capital city, hula dances, and much more. 

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin

5-8 years

Take an evolutionary journey from the 3 million-year-old volcanic eruption that formed the Galapagos islands to the mangroves and iguanas that cover the lands today. Kids can learn about seagulls, pelicans, penguins, frigid birds, tortoises, sea lions, rocky beaches, and many other species through this beautifully illustrated and descriptive book.  

My Africa Vacation by Ozi Okaro 

6-9 years

Okaro takes readers on an exciting family vacation journey through ten African countries, showcasing the diversity and culture of each destination. The main characters, Arinze and her sister Cheta, reunite with their grandfather in Nigeria and are able to appreciate where they came from. On each page, they highlight what they saw, such as beaches of Tunisia, Victoria Falls in Zambia, and Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. My Africa Vacation gets kids excited about the rich scenes across the continent. 

Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan

8-12 years

Asha and the Spirit Bird

Set in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, Asha and the Spirit Bird takes young readers on a journey with a young girl facing devastating poverty. Asha (“hope”) explores her faith, family and friendships, with a hint of magical realism and against a stunning mountainous backdrop. Readers encounter local scenery and wildlife, while gaining understanding of Hinduism and some of the harsh realities of life in rural India. 

Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne

8-12 years

josephine against the sea

Barbadian author and filmmaker Shakirah Bourne brings her Caribbean homeland to life in this engaging middle-school novel about a funny 11-year-old named Josephine. Josephine is fiercely protective of her father and his dating life, and gets into trouble for it. The story is set in modern-day Barbados, where cricket matches, spicy food and reggae music are a part of everyday life, and touches on themes of family, friendship, grief and community. 

Sucheta Rawal is a freelance food and travel writer contributing to Travel + Leisure, AAA, TIME Magazine and HuffPost. She is author of ‘Beato Goes To’ series of children’s picture books on travel and founder of the nonprofit Go Eat Give.