The 12 Best Travel Books for Kids of 2020

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss at Amazon

"Inspires a love of travel through wild illustrations that conjure exciting locations."

Best Budget: How to Make an Apple Pie by Marjorie Priceman at Amazon

"This whimsical book encourages kids to globetrot around the world for a budget-friendly price."

Best Paris: Paris City Trails by Lonely Planet Kids at Amazon

"Offers kids a mix of history, culture, and current travel ideas about the City of Lights."

Best London: Pop-up London by Andy Mansfield at Amazon

"Filled with illustrations as well as six clever pop-ups that make the city come alive."

Best China: All About China by Allison Branscombe at Amazon

"Has scooped up multiple publishing awards for its collection of stories and games about Chinese traditions."

Best Tokyo: Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer at Walmart

"Will inspire tweens’ imagination not only about Tokyo, but about the country of Japan overall."

Best New York: Next Stop Grand Central by Maira Kalman at Amazon

"The illustrations are exaggerated and lively—just like the vibe of New York City."

Best Los Angeles: Los Angeles Is… by Elisa Parhad at Amazon

"Reviewers loved that this book gave an opportunity to share personal L.A. based experiences with their kids."

Best Adventure: Family Field Trip by Erin Austen Abbott at Amazon

"Packed with ideas for 40 family-friendly cultural activities."

Best Scavenger: Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams at Amazon

"Features a Can You Find page that encourages kids to explore different continents more deeply."

Our Top Picks

01 of 12

Best Overall: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Courtesy of Amazon

Let’s start with what might be the most universally read—and universally beloved—travel book of all time. Dr. Seuss’ famous book Oh, The Places You’ll Go! appeals across all ages. It's just right to read to babies and toddlers, it's inspiring for older kids, and it's a great gift for high school or college graduates. While it doesn’t cover real-world destinations, this classic book inspires a love of travel through wild illustrations that conjure exciting locations, and inspire a curiosity about getting out into the world. Throughout, the themes underscore self-reliance and resilience through tough times, which are appropriate life lessons for any age.

02 of 12

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

Appropriate for kids in the age range of about 3 to 7 years old, this whimsical book encourages kids to globetrot around the world—and the 40-page book is available in paperback or hardcover for a budget-friendly price. The premise of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World centers on how to make an apple pie if you lack key ingredients. Well, you simply hop around the world to gather the essentials you need: board a steamboat to Italy for wheat, hop over to England for the freshest cow’s milk, and then head to Vermont for apple picking.

03 of 12

Best Paris: Paris City Trails by Lonely Planet Kids

From Lonely Planet's City Trails series, this Paris book for kids includes stories about the city’s historical monuments, floral-filled parks, and evocative architecture. The book offers kids from later elementary school into middle school a mix of history, culture, and current travel ideas about the City of Lights, with detailed pictures, maps, and illustrations.

04 of 12

Best London: Pop-up London by Andy Mansfield

London’s most famous landmarks literally pop off the page in this colorful pop-up book from Lonely Planet Kids. The book is filled with illustrations as well as six clever pop-ups that make the city come alive: Buckingham Palace, the Shard, the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, St Paul's Cathedral, and the London Underground. This book is more about the visuals and sensory experiences than the text and storyline, so it's best suited for young kids age 3 to 5.

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05 of 12

Best China: All About China by Allison Branscombe

All About China has scooped up multiple publishing awards for its thoughtful collection of illustrations, stories, activities, and games—all of which convey cultural facts and Chinese traditions. It's a great way to introduce kids to this fascinating Asian country. Kids will learn about the Chinese zodiac animals, notional folk songs, and try their hand at solving a tangram shape puzzle. Reviewers appreciated the mix of information All About China included and loved how accessible it was to their kids.

06 of 12

Best Tokyo: Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer

Tokyo Teen

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

In Diary of a Tokyo Teen, the Japanese-American writer and illustrator, Christine Mari Inzer, documents her travels to Tokyo at age 15 to reconnect with the country. Featuring a mix of pictures, illustrations, and topics—including unexpected foods, fashions, and cultural traditions—this graphic novel will inspire tweens’ imagination not only about Tokyo (as the title implies) but about the country of Japan overall, including rural and urban destinations alike.

07 of 12

Best New York: Next Stop Grand Central by Maira Kalman

Next Stop Grand Central is a book for kids age 4 through 8 that aims to capture the frenetic energy and excitement of the scenes and sounds in New York's Grand Central Terminal, “the busiest, fastest, biggest place there is.” Follow along as characters from all walks of life make their way through the station. Maria Kalman's illustrations are exaggerated and lively—just like the vibe of New York City.

08 of 12

Best Los Angeles: Los Angeles Is… by Elisa Parhad

This is one of the hippest Los Angeles travel books available, especially for toddlers. The cool, stylized illustrations cover the city’s distinctive personality and landmarks: think surfing, citrus, commutes, low riders, and celebrities. Covering iconic L.A. features like taco trucks and tar pits, this is a fun primer for first-time visitors (or any Los Angeles-phile). Reviewers thought Los Angeles Is... authentically captured the culture of L.A. and loved that it provided an opportunity to share personal L.A. based experiences with their kids.

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09 of 12

Best Adventure: Family Field Trip by Erin Austen Abbott

Family Field Trip is packed with ideas for 40 family-friendly cultural activities. The idea here is to help kids learn about different cultures and places through field trips and exploration. It draws from an array of educational approaches including Montessori, World Schooling, Forest Schooling, and others to give parents the tools they need. This book is a great option for parents of young children intent on raising them as curious, open-minded, and conscious citizens of the world.

10 of 12

Best Scavenger: Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams

Atlas of Adventures is packed with inspiration for kids age 7 to 12, with incredible illustrations over 96 stunning pages bound in hardcover. Follow along as two adventurers travel to different continents. Kids will get to visit the penguins of Antarctica, Carnival in Brazil, and a canoe safari down the Zambezi River. Each section opens with an infographic map of a particular region to orient kids in geography as it inspires their curiosity and wanderlust. It also features a Can You Find page that encourages kids to explore each country more deeply.

11 of 12

Best for Little Kids: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

This delightful book captures so much of the magic—and the misadventure—of traveling with little kids. There’s the long plane flight, the new cultural experiences, the inevitable meltdown over a lost toy, and eventually the growth and independence that comes from getting out into the world at a young age. Its mix of illustrations and photos make this one a unique visual delight for kids aged 3 to 5.

12 of 12

Best for Teens: The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small by Kath Stathers

With nearly 500 pages, this book offers endless inspiration for teens who might be gearing up to consider studies abroad, gap years, or other global ambitions. It’s packed with 1,000 ideas for places to visit and cultural activities to do there—think cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, sports, culinary curiosities, wildlife spotting, and other adventures befitting a bucket list. It also gives a historical overview and when the best season to visit is, which will help teens plan ahead.

Why You Should Trust Us

Alesandra Dubin is a travel writer who trots the globe with her five-year-old twins. Her kids’ first birthday party had an Oh, The Places You’ll Go!-inspired travel theme. And many of the other books on this list dot her family’s library, either as part of past trip planning, or for general travel inspiration.

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