Winter might be the season of cold and flu, but summer has its own malady – wanderlust. The long days, the abundance of wildlife, and the warm weather make me want to pack my bag and go look for adventure. No place seems too far away, no journey too difficult, no dream inaccessible – even with three children.
But here comes the reality check: Faraway lands are too expensive to reach, and I don’t have unlimited vacation. Still, I believe that summer is the season of travel and adventure, even if it’s only armchair traveling, or more accurately, traveling on the magical blanket spread in your backyard in the shade.
Here is my list of family favorite wanderlust reads. May they inspire you and your little travel companions to your own summer adventures and spark the curiosity of the world near and far. Increased knowledge of world geography comes as a bonus!
“Maps” by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski
(Big Picture Press)
Can you draw a country? This couple of Polish illustrators sure can, and they do it splendidly. Their collection of hand-drawn maps of 42 countries takes you on a visual journey to famous lands and those less known. Each map showcases the best of a country’s nature, culture, and history, its symbols, heroes, and most popular dishes.
The book’s large format colorful drawings appeal to youngest readers, but the wealth of information attracts an older audience, without the upper age limit. My daughters and I spent hours with this book, sometimes checking how much we know about countries that we’ve been to, sometimes imagining trips to exotic places, and sometimes looking for inspiration for play or cooking.
“Maps” is probably the best publication combining the fun of exploring new cultures with geographical knowledge and travel inspiration, and one that you’ll never get bored with.
Another must-have on a traveler’s bookshelf is this beautiful compendium of all the countries in the world. You just can’t help opening it and will travel through its pages longer than you planned. Each country is given a two-page spread – just enough to get that first glimpse and some essential info, while stunning pictures tell their own story.
The book is not specifically addressed to children, but mine love it. Each one has their favorite photograph that inspires questions and dreams. The book makes you realize just how big and diverse the world is, and even though you might not be able to actually travel to every country, you might still see it.
If you want something specifically addressed to children, Lonely Planet has lots of quality travel books to choose from. These two are our favorites from Lonely Planet Kids, packed full of adventures and activities, mazes, maps, and interesting facts. Colourful and fun, they will keep your young explorers busy for hours.
(Wide Eyed Editions)
If the first question that your children ask of you when you announce the plans for holiday is: “But what are we going to do there?” then “Atlas of Adventures” is your go-to travel book.
On its beautifully illustrated pages, you’ll find lots of inspiration for adventures, from steering a gondola in Venice to dancing the samba at the Rio Carnival to getting covered in colors at an Indian Holi festival.
If you can’t make it to Brazil this year, who says you can’t have your own carnival in the garden? This lovely armchair-travel book doubles as game and play-pretend inspiration.
(Wide Eyed Editions)
The sequel to “Atlas of Adventures” is dedicated to animal lovers who dream of tracking the Siberian tiger in the snowy steppes of Russia or exploring the habits of red kangaroos in Australia. This book is beautifully illustrated and full of fascinating facts that really let you get to know the animals from all around the world.
This is a great choice for younger animal lovers, letting them explore animals in their natural habitat, like the Australian Outback or the North American forest. The publication consists of beautifully illustrated panoramic spreads and fun animal stickers to put in the right landscapes.
This book takes you on a journey with a bunch of hilarious cartoon characters who chase after local delicacies. From Mexico to Brazil, Sweden to Thailand, you will explore regional flavors and learn some fun facts about food production and eating habits around the globe. It’s the perfect book for gourmet travelers and also includes some exotic recipes to try at home.
(Wide Eyed Editions)
There are travel books that let you see the world and those that encourage you to taste it. “The Hello Atlas” lets you hear it. This beautifully illustrated world atlas guides you through different languages spoken in different countries.
Don’t worry if you can’t get your Swahili greeting’s pronunciation right. The book comes with a really clever and fun app that lets you hear nearly all of the languages featured in the book. It’s lots of fun and a great exercise for kids to navigate their way through continents, finding their favorite languages.
To really get to know a place, you need to get to know people who live there: What do they like? What games do they play? What are their houses like?
This beautifully illustrated book invites you to make friends with seven children from Iran, Russia, Japan, India, Uganda, Italy, and Peru and follow their day to get to know them better. What do they have for breakfast? What clothes do they wear? What do you have in common?
Another lovely book exploring the lifestyles of children around the world, this volume introduces the concept of time zones. Beautifully illustrated and full of inspiration for play, it is a long time favorite in our home.