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The Best Kids’ Books to Encourage Wanderlust

In our view, it’s never too early to introduce kids to books or adventure. Do both at the same time by stocking their shelves with these wanderlust-inspiring books, which range from beautiful, fact-filled reference tomes to page-turning adventures. They’ll transport little ones to worlds far, far away, fostering a love of travel and a love of reading. Whether you're shopping for your own tiny globetrotter-to-be or buying a gift for someone else’s, you’ll be instilling a sense of curiosity and teaching them how to care for the planet and the global community—important lessons whether they venture near or far. 

THE BEST KIDS BOOKS FOR AGES 4 AND UNDER

1

Little Traveler Board Book Set

Little Traveler Board Book Set.

Mudpuppy

Ages 0-5

Right now, the trip from the bedroom to the living room constitutes a major journey for your baby. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prep them for bigger adventures to come. Each book in this sturdy (read: toddler-proof) four-book set focuses on a different aspect of travel (animals, vehicles, food, and landmarks), with stops in various parts of the world. Together you can take a tuk-tuk in Thailand, ride a cable car in San Francisco, eat sushi in Japan, and visit a kangaroo in Australia.  

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2

Run Wild

Run Wild.

David Covell

Ages 3-5

The main idea of this book is pretty simple: Head outside and—you guessed it—run wild! Explore! Get wet! Go crazy in nature! This picture book is perfect for the kid who’d rather climb trees on Nintendo Switch than climb trees IRL. There’s magic to be had for adult readers as well: Unpretentious drawings remind readers of primal pleasures like feeling mud squish between your toes—or leaving the house without a smartphone or to-do list.

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THE BEST KIDS’ BOOKS FOR AGES 4-8

3

Train

TRAIN by Elisha Cooper.

Elisha Cooper

Ages 4-8

Train-obsessed kids, or those getting into the #TrainBrag movement, will fall in love with this poetic picture book. The action starts in frenetic Grand Central Terminal, then proceeds through an increasingly rural landscape and, eventually, across the entire United States. The trains themselves change too, from a silver-and-red commuter train to a blue passenger train to a deep gray freight train, and so on. The hypnotic text coupled with Cooper’s loose, lush pencil-watercolor illustrations portray such a romantic view of train travel, you’ll never think about Amtrak the same way again. 

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4

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the World

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the World.

Elizabeth Carney

Ages 4-8

This kid-appropriate book contains the same humanist approach and incredible photographs found in National Geographic’s beloved yellow magazine. Organized by continent, it gives an overview of people, places, languages, climates, and significant sites—an excellent addition to the library of any mini armchair traveler. We also love the hands-on activities that show you how to sing songs in other languages and build a tiny rainforest, among other things.

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5

Exploring Nature Journal for Kids: Observe and Record the Outdoors

Exploring Nature Journal for Kids: Observe and Record the Outdoors.

Kim Andrews

Ages 5-12

Whether your child lives in Brooklyn or Bozeman, this interactive journal will encourage them to practice the age-old art of scientific observation. Prompts teach them how to explore nature mindfully, critically, and safely, while blank pages foster creativity through free writing and doodling. Less screen time, more connection with the world around them.

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6

Eloise

Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown Ups.

Kay Thompson 

Age 6-9

If your kid is nervous about spending time away from home, reach for this book. Intrepid, precocious six-year old Eloise teaches kids that a hotel can be their castle. Author Kay Thompson, who worked on MGM musicals, brings that more-is-more attitude to little Eloise’s life, whose adventures include her turtle Skipperdee and pug Weenie. Over the course of the series (illustrated by Hilary Knight), she explores Moscow and Paris, in addition to New York City. Her charming adventures remind all readers of the importance of being curious, of being enthusiastic, and of being your very own special self. 

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7

The Airport Book

The Airport Book.

Lisa Brown

Ages 5-7

Worried about a TSA-line meltdown? This could help. The Airport Book follows a biracial family as they leave their house, go through security, wander through crowds, board the plane, and arrive at their final destination at last. It’s a primer on what to expect at the airport with lovingly drawn portraits of different types of people. A subtle storyline about a wayward sock monkey lends a playful element, making for a fun game of “spot the colorful striped tail.”

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8

The Barefoot Book of Children

The Barefoot Book of Children.

Tessa Strickland and Kate Depalma

Ages 5-6

If there’s one thing kids like, it’s learning about other kids. This big book explains how children in other countries eat, play, study, and spend time with their families, including LBGTQ and differently abled members. When our place on the planet starts to feel fractured (or particularly partisan), it will remind your little ones that regardless of what we look like or where or with whom we live, we’re united just by being human.  

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9

Dodsworth in London

Dodsworth in London (A Dodsworth Book).

Tim Egan

Ages 6-9

Poor Dodsworth. This serious little mouse just wants to travel the world stress-free, but instead he’s stuck with a rambunctious duck who always finds his way into major mischief. In Dodsworth in London, the unlikely buddies have an unforgettable adventure that lands them in Buckingham Palace. The best trips, after all, are the ones we take with those we love. Be sure to check out the other titles in the series, too, as the pair explores Tokyo, Paris, Rome, and New York.

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10

Everywhere, Wonder

Everywhere, Wonder.

Matthew Swanson

Ages 3-6

Our imagination can take us to far-off lands and exotic destinations, no expensive plane ticket necessary. In Everywhere, Wonder, a young boy explores a river in Alaska, the pyramids at Giza, the frozen tundra of the North Pole, and the surface of the moon, among other destinations, using nothing but the power of his mind, all of which can prompt your little one to start picturing their own upcoming trip.

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11

National Parks of the U.S.A.

National Parks of the USA.

Kate Silber

Ages 6-9

The award-winning National Parks of the U.S.A. will have you and your kids singing “America the Beautiful.” The reference book covers over 20 of the prettiest, largest, insert-the-superlative-of-your-choice parks, using eye-popping visuals, engaging maps, and informative nuggets about the parks’ flora and fauna, such as the Florida panther who resides in the Everglades or the lynx who prowls Yosemite. Your kids won’t just be inspired to visit, they’ll be inspired to do what they can to make sure the parks are around for generations to come.     

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12

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Things That Go

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Things That Go.

Karen de Seve

Ages 4-8

No doubt you’ve heard the saying, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” Little Kids First Big Book of Things That Go shows just that by detailing practically every type of transportation under the sun, from submarines to dog sleds. Big pictures and easy-to-understand explanations show that people get around in a multitude of ways—proving how you got from point A to point B often makes for the best stories.

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THE BEST KIDS’ BOOKS FOR AGES 8+

13

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid.

Dylan Thuras

Ages 8-12

It can feel like the world’s been explored (and ’grammed and geocached) to death. Combat the ennui with The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid. The illustrated book goes beyond the typical tourist trail and highlights the weird and the wonderful still waiting to be uncovered, such as a cave in Vietnam big enough to fit a 747.

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14

Wild in the City

Wild In The City (Lonely Planet Kids).

Kate Baker

Ages 9-12

Wild in the City proves nature is everywhere, even in the most bustling of metropolises. Charming illustrations show smooth-coated otters frolicking around Singapore, red foxes riding the escalator on the London Underground, and reticulated pythons slithering through Jakarta. In addition to showcasing more than 30 city creatures, the science and nature book offers tips on making any community more habitable to furry, flying, or four-legged friends.

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15

Awesome Space Tech: 40 Amazing Infographics for Kids

Awesome Space Tech: 40 Amazing Infographics for Kids.

Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton

Ages 9 and up

Kids today may very well see the colonization of Mars or witness the discovery of sentient beings in other galaxies. Get them ready for a whole new world with this insightful book, which explains outer-space technology through graphs, charts, and icons. Future astronauts can discover how rockets and telescopes work, which object holds the record for fastest re-entry back to Earth, the best spacesuit design, and more—sure to be useful when the alien overlords arrive.   

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16

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

E.L. Konigsburg

Ages 8-12

In this beloved novel, 12-year-old Claudia decides she simply can’t take her life at home anymore, so she runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her younger, flush-with-cash brother. Reading this mystery will not only lead to fantasies about spending the night in a museum but also show little ones how museums can take visitors on journeys through time and space.

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17

Seek & Find – Around the World

Seek & Find - Around the World.

Juliette Saumante

Ages 8-12

Eagle-eyed readers will love this Where’s Waldo-esque picture book, featuring searchable spreads full of rich details, such as sailboats and surfers in Sydney, and pandas and hutongs in Beijing. Find the tiny, hidden sightseer in each city, then ask your kids to invent their own tales about what everyone is doing. Why’s the guy in the suit running? What’s the woman in the red sweater pointing at? How did that baby get into the attic?

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ALL AGES

18

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Dr. Seuss

Ages 0-100

It may have become a go-to gift for grads, but the classic Dr. Seuss book—the last work published in his lifetime—has a wonderful message about heading out into the great wide open, no matter what age you are. After all, if you have “brains in your head” and “feet in your shoes,” there’s really no end to what you can do or where you can go, the occasional “bang-ups” and “hang-ups,” notwithstanding.

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