Books for Kids
that Inspire Travel
Books have a way of transporting us to places far and away. You and I have experienced this magic, and our kids can too. Even if travel isn’t on your horizon at the moment, the following books make great choices for summer reading. These are our favorites and we hope you’ll enjoy them too!
And if your kiddos are too young to read on their own,
these titles also make great read-alouds whether it’s YOU or on Audible.
The Black Pearl
by Scott O’Dell
This story takes place in a small seaside town in Baja California (Mexico). One day sixteen year old Ramon finds a black pearl, the most treasured and sought after by the people of his village. His father is a pearl merchant and he knows the value of finding such a treasure. But that’s where the trouble lies, he has taken something that the ominous devilfish covets and retaliation is in store for Ramon and all the people of his village. It’s a story that takes a close look at greed and the price of fame.
Length of book: At just 140 pages, this one is a quick read. Time on Audible is just two hours of total listening time.
Recommended age: 10 and above
Travel Inspiration: Although the story takes place in Mexico, any warm water, tropical destination will do. Since Tahiti is known for black pearls, that is another great travel connection. If you or your kids long for a beach vacation that includes snorkeling and exploring a rocky coastline, The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell is sure to transport you there.
Banner in the Sky
by James Ramsey Ullman
If Swiss villages, cheese, chocolate and mountaineering in the Alps, inspire you to dream of a future vacation, have your kids pick this one up for a summer reading book. This is one of those, on the edge of your seat, kind of stories and my boys loved it.
Like The Black Pearl, it’s another coming of age story about a 16-year old boy named Rudi. He is on a quest to hike to the highest peak in Switzerland and pay tribute to his father’s memory by hanging his red shirt like a flag at the top. There’s plenty of cliff-hangers (literally), adventure and overall themes of bravery and sacrifice.
Length of book: 288 pages. Not available on Audible.
Recommended age: 8 and above (although some of the vocabulary may make it difficult for younger readers to read on their own).
Travel Inspiration: Switzerland is the obvious, but any travel that includes mountains, hiking, or challenging quests will fit nicely.
By The Great Horn Spoon
by Sid Fleischman
We’re heading to California for some historical fiction about the Gold Rush - By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman is about an 12-year-old boy named Jack and his butler Praiseworthy who travel to California in 1849 along with the rest of the world in search of fortune. They run into all kinds of trouble when they meet unsavory characters like Cut-Eye Higgins and a group of outlaws who rob a stagecoach. This book will have you laughing and cheering. They do eventually find their fortune, but not in the way they planned to.
This is a popular book on the California reading list for 4th graders learning about state history. This was probably our favorite because of the adventure, comedy, and interesting characters. It’s predominantly fiction, with the only historical part coming in with understanding the situation in San Francisco and gold-mining towns in 1849 and the many people who flocked there in search of gold.
Length of book: 224 pages. Available on Audible.
Recommended age: 8 and above.
Travel Inspiration: California! San Francisco is mentioned throughout the story. They also travel to gold mining towns with fictional names. Gold was discovered in Sutter Creek near Coloma, which is not too far from Sacramento.
It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime:
Stories from a South African Childhood
(Adapted for Young Readers)
by Trevor Noah
In preparation for our trip to South Africa last year, I read the book first, then was happy to discover there is also a youth version that has all the same content and amazing stories from Trevor’s life (minus the language). This was such a good read for all of us to better understand South African history, the many tribes and their different languages and apartheid. If you don’t know, Trevor Noah was “born a crime” because he was born during apartheid and it was illegal for a white man and black woman to even have a relationship, and certainly not a child. As a result, he grew up in a world where he didn’t fit in, but through his clever schemes and often comical experiences, he overcame many challenges. It’s an incredible story of resiliency and courage in the face of opposition.
Length of book: 304 pages. Not available on Audible
Recommended age: 10 and above. Parents should preview the content first and make sure it’s right for their kids due to some scenes of violence.
Travel Inspiration: South Africa
What books have your kids read that inspire travel?
Share your favorites in the comments below.
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