I love buying books for toddlers and babies, especially ones that inspire wanderlust and nurture my mini-explorer’s inquisitive minds. I’ll regret this when they’re 16 and leaving me to travel the world on their own, won’t I?!
If you’re looking for a travel gift or a book for a toddler that’s a little different and special, I’m sure you’ll love this round-up of my favourite travel-inspired books for young minds.
The Best Books for Toddlers and Babies
This book is so lovely that I brought four copies in August and gave it as a present to mark the first day of school for some of my nephews and friends. Be warned, if you read it with your little one when you’re feeling tired or emotional you’re likely to shed a happy tear!
It tells the story of our planet; what it’s made of and who lives here – different races and sizes through to different animals and more. It only has a few sentences on each page so I’d say it’s suited from age 2 – 4/5. It contains beautiful illustrations and is educational in an indirect way, but the main reason I love it is that it just has a real feel-good message. It’s perfect for bedtime reading. I like the paper version as it’s light and thin enough to come on our travels.
This is a new book written by the Director of Communications for Kid & Coe (the brilliant family-friendly travel site). It showcases the lives of over 50 children from all over the world, letting little ones discover what life is like in other countries.
Amongst others, it includes a story about breakfast in Tawain, going to school in Scotland and hometime in Afghanistan. The gorgeous illustrations are by an LA based illustrator and designer and really bring the book to life. I love it and can’t wait to give it to Nova for his birthday.
There’s no story in this big book, instead just beautifully designed maps of the world showcasing different continents and countries. Each one is filled with little illustrations of animals, costumes, food and more to highlight what the place is famous for.
Nova absolutely adores flicking through this one, asking me question after question. “Why is she wearing that?” “What’s that?” “I’ve had a pretzel on holiday, mummy!” It’s a real conversation starter.
It’s one of those books that I know we’ll read for a very long time, learning about upcoming adventures and reminiscing about past ones. We received it from a friend for Nova’s first birthday and he’s nearly three now, but still loves it.
I first brought this book for Kit and since then it’s one I’ve gifted lots and lots. I started reading it with Kit just before she turned one and it’s simple enough and short enough to keep her attention. Nova is nearly three and he also loves this book so much that he’s started ‘reading’ it to me. He uses the stylish, clear illustrations and his memory to tell me what’s happening on each page – sometimes word for word. It’s amazing and I never tire of listening to him!
The book tells a simplified story about Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s so inspiring and again, a real feel-good book. The other books in the Little People, Big Dreams are just as lovely – Maya is a favourite in our house – but this is the best travel-related one.
This book is similar to Maps but as you can probably guess it’s focussed on animals. It’s filled with beautiful illustrations of animals from all over the world. It’s one that Nova loves flicking through on his own, but he also enjoys devouring each page with me, asking where all the animals are from and if we can go and see them one day.
It’s a book to capture imaginations and inspire adventures. Again, a book that has a long life-span and would be perfect for a 1-5 year old.
Can you tell my mini-explorers love travel and books yet?! This book was recommended by a teacher friend when I asked for a book that could quench Nova’s thirst for knowledge. It’s a big book and each page is filled with questions and facts on various flaps that can be lifted to reveal the answer.
We have to hide this book at bedtime because it takes so long to read and fuels so many questions! It’s a great book for inquisitive minds.
This toddler-friendly book follows the adventures of Emma Jane as she zooms round the cities of the world. It features gorgeous illustrations of iconic landmarks, animals and of course, a dragon (a crowd pleaser when it comes to kids!).
Each page has a few lines, including simple rhymes so it’s a great book for toddlers.
We picked this book up when we went to Vancouver in May and it’s still a firm favourite with my one year old. I love that it’s a little different and that the illustrations are a bit more abstract. Kit adores pointing at them and listens intently as I read each page, before excitedly wriggling her legs in response and smiling.
It’s centred on animals of the native northwest in Canada – a beautiful part of the world. We have a hardback version so it can withstand her grabby hands and often read it at a bedtime as it’s quite calming.
This author is a firm favourite with our two mini-explorers (and the rest of the world!), so it’s no surprise that one of Julia Donaldson’s books would make this list. The Ugly Five is inspired by safari animals in Africa and is a funny celebration of animals who are often rather unloved. It has a heart-warming sentiment, fun rhymes and of course, beautiful illustrations like her other books.
If you’re after a book for a baby or young toddler, this beautiful book is a good option. It’s essentially a collection of first words to see and say. Mini-explorers can learn to explore with Little Mouse on each page. It’s a classy book that’s easy on the eyes and covers the world around us, the body and lots more.
This is a personalised book that allows your little one to become the star of the show or I guess I should say the traveller in the adventures! Nova received the original, The Magic Chair, from his pappy for his first Christmas and then received this spin-off version for his second Christmas.
It basically showcases parts of the world in simple, engaging rhyme format. There are big illustrations that you can tailor to match your mini-explorer, such as hair colour. Nova loves describing all the landmarks and various animals, and it regularly makes an appearance at bedtime.
Lonely Planet Kids offer a fun range of foreign language vocab books for littles and this Japanese one is a favourite of mine. It’s really a book for the whole family and is perfect if you’re off on a new adventure. It’s a chance to build that pre-trip excitement and to learn.
As you can probably guess, this book shares 100 words to use while travelling in Japan, including food, animals, transport and greetings. Each word is accompanied with an illustration and this edition includes a super helpful audio pronunciation guide. You’re never too young to learn a new language – if anything I think it’s easier when you’re younger. At 2 years old Nova loves going to his weekly French class.
This book is actually aimed at 7- 10 year olds but my two love leafing through it and asking questions as I tell them snippets about the various places. It’s a beautifully stylish, arty book that I can see growing with us. The older they get the more I’ll be able to read to them.
The book is basically a trip round the world, showcasing exciting things like the carnival in Brazil, a canoe safari down the Zambezi River and lots more. It’d make a really thoughtful gift.
If you’re little loves animals, has a thirst for knowledge or you want to inspire them to explore oceans when they’re older this book is for you. It contains beautiful, educational illustrations and descriptions of various creatures of the water. Nova can list a whole host of different dinosaurs and sea creatures are just as exciting to him.
Can you tell I like stylish books?! This one is utterly gorgeous – very arty and chic. It tells the story of many journeys; essentially about migrations. It started with the story of two girls in a refugee centre in Italy and grew from there. Whilst the story may be lost on very young children, I still think it’s captivating and important. It’s the kind of book that starts conversations with inquisitive minds.
This book is a bit more light-hearted than the last and is another keepsake. It’s a collection of 52 best-loved stories from around the world, covering things like changing seasons, cultural events and differences, and international festivals.
Put like that it sounds quite highbrow, but actually includes tales like The Runaway Pancake, Father Frost and more. It’s a lovely book for a gift.
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Do you have any travel-inspired favourite books for toddlers to add to the list? X