Children’s Books That Inspire Exploration and Spark Imagination

travel through stories with children's books that inspire a love of exploration

There’s nothing like a good children’s book to inspire our imaginations and capture our hearts. This is true at any age, but the books we read as children have a special way of staying with us long after we’ve read them. Those special picture books we heard while cuddled on our mother’s lap or those novels we read in middle school that made us see the world in a whole new light–these are the stories which continue to shape us in ways both big and small. 

We can encourage our little ones to develop a love for explorations and travel through stories that will captivate them, awaken their sense of adventure, and introduce them to different countries, cultures, and traditions. Audiobooks for kids do a wonderful job of drawing listeners in with excellent storytelling, so even reluctant readers aren’t left out. Check out our book selections for kids of all ages below and enjoy the imaginative travels they inspire!


Goodnight Our World

By Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper

This wonderful and expansive series of board books guide our youngest readers through the sights and landmarks of cities all over our world. From Aruba to Paris and Sydney to Hong Kong, these colorful books walk children through the special places that belong to a particular city, inviting them to say “goodnight” to each. The simple rhythm and cadence might even soothe them to sleep! Another series worth checking out is Hello, World, which also uses bright colors and beautiful illustrations to depict the foods, architecture, and culture of different cities around the world in ways our babies and toddlers can enjoy. These are the perfect children’s books to inspire travel in even the youngest of readers.


By Ludwig Bemelmans

A classic in children’s literature, no one can resist spunky little Madeline, who lives in a Parisian boarding house and is afraid of nothing, not even the tiger at the zoo! As the girls walk through Paris, all in a line, we catch a glimpse of this beautiful city. What child’s imagination wouldn’t be captured by the gorgeous illustration of the Eiffel Tower that always graces the cover? A brave and endearing heroine, Madeline is a wonderful guide to a country our children will surely dream of exploring, and the simple words and lilting rhyme also make it a great story for kids just learning to read


A New Year’s Reunion

By Yu Li-Qiong and Zhu Cheng Liang 

This award-winning picture book introduces children to the celebrations and traditions surrounding the Chinese New Year through the eyes of little Maomao, who is excited to see her father for the holiday. A migrant worker in China, Maomao’s father travels throughout the country for work and cannot be home with his family for most of the year. It is a poignant, beautifully illustrated book with a powerful and moving story about family and cultural traditions. 


Magic Tree House

By Mary Pope Osbourne

While this popular series of early chapter books for emerging readers doesn’t take place in any particular country, it does make a point of choosing a new and unique setting for each book in the series. Dynamic sibling duo Jack and Annie often end up in different countries at different points in history. Their love for exploration and sweet sibling relationship are enough to inspire a love for travel (with family!) in any adventurous child. The Carole Marsh Mystery Series’ Around the World in 80 Mysteries–a lesser-known series for early readers that also purposefully sets each story in a different country–is also worth checking out.

Chike And The River

by Chinua Achebe

The author of Things Fall Apart brings us the fantastic story of 11-year-old Chike, who longs to cross the Niger river to visit the great city of Asaba. As we accompany Chike on his adventures and journey of self-discovery, we are also given a glimpse into tribal life in Nigeria at that time. It is a magical and heartwarming tale, and one of those perfect books for 3rd graders and older that will surely capture the imaginations of our growing readers. 

The 39 Clues

By Various Authors

Several authors of popular books for middle schoolers, including Rick Riordian, Gordon Korman, and Margaret Peterson Haddix, all collaborate to write this New York Times best-selling series. Siblings Amy and Dan Cahill accept their grandmother’s challenge, made in her will, which sends them all over the world searching for clues about a family secret that will bring them incredible power and riches. Each of these action-packed books takes place in a different country, and will leave your middle schooler wanting to solve a mystery!


What books have inspired your kids and given them a sense of adventure? Let us know in the comments below!


Don’t forget to check out a few of our other articles on the Bébé Voyage blog!:

Bring The World To Your Living Room: From Counting Giraffes In Kenya To Making A Pen Pal Friend

Staying Zen While Traveling with Children

Travel Adventures For Families: Mompreneur Presents The Founder Of Our Whole Village, Patricia Monahan


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