Thursday, September 8, 2011

Books to inspire traveling kids (and adults!)

September 8th is International Literacy Day, a day first proclaimed by UNESCO in 1965. To quote UNESCO's site:
Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.
Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. There are good reasons why literacy is at the core of Education for All (EFA).
In honor of this special day, I'm posting a list of books that might help inspire a love of both reading and travel in children and adults. Fair warning! I've had a weakness for the fantasy and science fiction genre since I was very young, and that is reflected in my selections!

Harry Potter Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-4)

The Harry Potter books
The very popular Harry Potter books are great reading for kids. In the books, kids get a glimpse of both the real-life London, and Rowling's magical London which blends fantasy and reality. If you're traveling to London with a child, Harry Potter could be a great book to bring along.

Pippi Longstocking (Puffin Modern Classics)Ronia, the Robber's Daughter
Astrid Lindgren's books
Some of Lindgren's books, like Ronia, the Robber's Daughter and The Brothers Lionheart,, take place in fantasy worlds. Others, like The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking and Karlson on the Roof blend fantasy elements and the real world. And many, like Lotta on Troublemaker Street and Emil and the Great Escape take place in the real, Swedish world. They're all great reads for kids, and can serve as an introduction to Sweden if you're heading there for a trip. Or they can simply inspire a love of reading. If you visit Stockholm, you can visit Junibacken, a kind of theme park that is inspired by Lindgren's books.
The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
The Little House on the Prairie series
I loved these books as a child. They made me want to read more, and they made me want to see the prairies and forests of the United States. They also made me want to eat a lot of the "exotic" food described in the books, like corn bread, clam chowder, and maple syrup.

Madeline's Rescue (Viking Kestrel picture books)Madeline

These books, set in Paris, are a wonderful read for younger kids, and could be brought along as kid-friendly travel literature for a trip to the city as well!

Asterix Obelix and Co.Asterix the Gaul (Asterix (Orion Paperback))
The Asterix comic books
I read these comic books a lot as a child, and they actually taught me a lot about ancient Rome and old-school European history. I'm still fascinated by that time period, thanks at least in part to Asterix.

Chinese Children's Favorite StoriesFairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen: A Classic Illustrated Edition (Classics Illustrated)

Folktales & Fairy Tales from around the world
Reading fairy-tales and folktales from countries around the world is a great way to inspire an interest in reading and travel in your kids. Some good choices are Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales, Hans Christian Andersen: The Complete Fairy Tales and Stories, and Auntie Tigress and Other Favorite Chinese Folk Tales.

Percy Jackson pbk 5-book boxed set (Percy Jackson & the Olympians)
Myths in fiction and non-fiction
Books and stories about mythology can also be inspiring and exciting reading for kids (I know it was for me). Two good choices are the books about Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series (based on myths and tales from the British Isles). Non-fiction books like Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse, or Oh My Gods!: A Look-it-Up Guide to the Gods of Mythology are other great reading-choices for kids.

The Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary, One Vol. EditionThe Hobbit: 70th Anniversary Edition

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Tolkien's tale about Bilbo's journey to find treasure and adventure is a great read for kids and adults. I know it inspired me to love fantasy books. For older kids, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a more serious, and more epic, tale of good, evil, hobbits and a very great journey through Middle Earth to destroy the One Ring.

Astro Boy Volumes 1 & 2
Astro Boy
This classic Japanese manga tale is a great introduction to the genre, and to Japanese storytelling. (The movie is good too!)

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