Travel Without Leaving Home! Reading Escapes For Kids

Reading recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar of our sister practice, Farrell Pediatrics

Back in May we talked about books that centered on home because we are all spending more time at home. If your family is like mine, you are missing summer travel. Even if you can’t travel due to the pandemic, you can read books that take you places. And yes, every book has the potential to take you somewhere new. However, these books might especially satisfy some of your unfulfilled wanderlust.

Picture Books:

Journey by Aaron Becker

This beautiful wordless picture book was a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book. It tells the story of a young girl who draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and travels through on a spectacular adventure. The girl carries her red marker with her and creates different modes of transportation along her journey: a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet. (It should remind parents of the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, another great travel book). Bonus: this is the first in a trilogy, all with gorgeous illustrations.

Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester

If you are a parent who has never heard this question, I want to know what your trick is. This charming book tells the story of a family on a road trip around Australia. It will be familiar in the family relations (see the title of the book) and also take your family on a trip to a very different continent.

The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

The narrator in this Caldecott Honor book doesn’t travel herself. But the relatives travel to her for a family reunion. My kids thought it was especially funny that the relatives are coming all the way from….Virginia.

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

Another Caldecott winner! This timeless book tells the story of a family spending the summer on an island in Maine. Like all of McCloskey’s books (One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal), it made me long for a New England summer house when I was growing up.

Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett

Sunny Meerkat lives in the Kalahari desert with his family. He is tired of being with so many other meerkats and decides to travel around the world and visit some of his distant relatives. As he travels, he sends a series of postcards back home to his family. Kids can actually open the postcards and read the letters Sunny sends as they learn about the places he goes and the other animals that he visits.

For tweens:

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

By the same author as Smile and Drama, this excellent graphic novel tells the true story of a family road trip from San Fransisco to Colorado to explore her relationship with her younger sister.

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

This classic book about two siblings who runaway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is funny and quirky. As a bonus, your family can explore the Met virtually on the website even if you can’t get away to NYC this summer. There are also some videos on the website about Claudia and Jamie (the two main characters in the book) that show the artwork that is mentioned in the book..

For older teens:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

For teens, this is one of the all-time best mysteries and fiction travel books. Hercule Poirot is traveling in luxury on the Orient Express train when a fellow passenger is brutally murdered. A perfect example of the “closed room mystery”, he must solve the crime while the train is stuck in a snowstorm

A Room with a View by E. F. Forster

A young woman travels to Italy in the early 1900’s. Perfect for teens who love romance or Downton Abbey, it tells the story of Lucy who must choose between two suitors and also choose between the more conservative Edwardian lifestyle she is accustomed to and the more free spirited life represented by Italy.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

First, a warning: this novel takes place 20 years after a global pandemic flu has killed 99% of the population. So for a lot of teens, this will be the wrong time to read this particular book and they may find some scenes disturbing (or the whole concept). Parents know your own teens. I gave it to my 16 year old son to read back in the spring and he loved it. It’s a fantastic book about a traveling Shakespearean troupe who journey around the post-apocalyptic countryside. Themes of art and community and what is worth saving in a culture are woven throughout the story.