October 18, 2009

Getting Ready for Travel: Destination Books for Kids

by Nancy from Ciao Bambino

It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the behind-the-scenes details for family trips, like planning the itinerary, pre-trip shopping and packing.  However, when the time to take a trip approaches, it’s beneficial to prepare the main characters—the kids. When people ask what we do to prepare our kids before trips, my answer is always a resounding Read! Read! Read!

Reading destination related books and involving the kids in small parts of the research not only helps generate excitement, but also helps determine which activities to choose while at the destinationAdditionally, the knowledge about local sites and history provides a comfortable background for children as they explore unfamiliar areas. The historical knowledge is especially important because it provides insight about the culture.  Because our children vary in age, we need a variety of books ranging from “The Goodnight” series to more complex historical fiction. We also combine reference books and fiction to keep it interesting. Don’t worry if they don’t seem all that into it, they are still absorbing something and it will pay off when you get to the destination.

Often, it’s me that learns the most! As I read to my children, it provides a refresher on my history and helpful information about the destination.

For suggestions, check out my book list on Amazon where I have posted recommendations for a handful of destinations we’ve visited lately: Italy, France, England, Ireland, Boston, San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia.

Family Travel Blogger Recommendations

Fiona from TravelMuse:
Dr. Suess, Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Julia Donaldson, The Snail and the Whale

MudslideMama from TravelingMamas:
(New York City) E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler.

Jody from HaveKidWillTravel:
(Ireland) Eve Bunting, S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet

Elizabeth from TravelForKids:
(Italy) Alan Armstrong - Looking for Marco Polo

Debbie from DeliciousBaby:
Byron Barton, Airplanes
Judy and Ron Barrett, Pickles to Pittsburgh

Jamie from TravelSavvyMom:
(New York) George Selden, The Cricket in Times Square
(England) Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
(England) Roald Dahl, Mathida
(Spain) Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand
(China) Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent, Rikki Tikki Tembo
(Italy) Mary Pope Osborne and Sal Murdocca, Vacation Under the Volcano (Jamie’s kids love the audio version of this)

Mara from Mother of All Trips:
(Paris) Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
(France) Cristina Bjork, Linnea In Monet’s Garden

Michelle from Wandermom:
(Ireland) Tomie De Paolo, Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka

Colleen from TravelMamas:
(New York) Peter Sis, Madlenka
(Paris) Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight, Eloise in Paris

Get your family organized and on the same page with Cozi, the free online family organizer.

Ciao Bambino Ciao Bambino provides tips and advice around all things related to traveling with kids and comprehensive reviews of the best kid friendly hotels.


Laura Englund-Krusee

This is a Great Suggestion and something we, as a traveling family, always do. I would also suggest letting kids get involved in a blog before and after or during the trip if you will have access along the way. This activity can be tailored to different age levels as well. They can do anything from helping choose the photos to taking the photos themselves and from approving the written content and adding things or writing the content for you to approve. The reading ahead does help with this as it gives the children some background to write about.
If you plan travel to Asia check out these books; Monkey Magic by Grant S. Clark which also has an excellent website with suggested projects and quizzes, The Sasha picture book series by Shamini Flint for younger children (3-7)and her new series The Animal Talkers (Book One is called Seeds of Time) for older children (7-10). Also checkout the cool folktales from around Asia in "The Eight Fortunes of the Qillin"

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