10 Picture Books That Invite Young Readers to Travel the World

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Since last spring, when borders clamped shut and a plane ticket was a fantasy in itself, my girls and I have done our share of adventuring. We have scaled the cliffs of Mordor; tiptoed through the forests of Narnia; sat in awe at Parisian ballets; traipsed through Japanese streets; and roamed the African plains. With nowhere else to go, we have chucked our passports and baggage and dove into worlds both new and familiar—all from the comfort of a well-worn armchair. Of course, I am talking about reading.

No matter if it’s a novel or a picture book, a good read is a trap door out of this world and into the next. With a well-stocked library, there’s no reason you and your little ones can’t satisfy a case of wanderlust.

Below, I’m sharing 10 eye-opening, beautiful children’s books that will have your kids globetrotting in no time at all. Ready for a worldwide adventure? Bon voyage!

Shirin Yim Bridges & Sophie Blackall

China: Ruby's Wish

I love a heroine who is bursting with bright-eyed optimism and ambition—and this book's namesake character fits the bill. "Ruby's Wish" invites readers to China, where a winsome young girl boldly yearns for knowledge and adventure.

Steve Antony

England: The Queen's Hat

When a gust of wind swipes the Queen of England's hat, it sets her off on a wild chase through the streets of London. Readers are swept along on what amounts to a thoroughly enjoyable and wanderlust-y jaunt past notable destinations like Big Ben and the Tower of London.

Gary Soto & Ed Martinez

Mexico: Too Many Tamales

Admittedly, this is a Christmas tale, but here's why I argue this sweet book about a family in Mexico is worth reading all year long: Soto crafts a story about tradition, family, and heritage that manages to be lighthearted, memorable, and full of life. It also involves an attempt at covering one's tracks by, well, eating them—and that part is just delightful.

Satomi Ichikawa

Morocco: My Father's Shop

Page through this book and young readers will find themselves transported to Morocco, where a shopkeeper's son chases his curiosity through a bustling marketplace. Vibrant illustrations bring life to Ichikawa's heartwarming reflection on the power of imagination.

Teresa Bateman & Kelly Murphy

Ireland: Fiona's Luck

In this Irish folktale, a cunning Leprechaun King is no match for a brave and clever young girl. When the king hoards the luck of the Irish, the country's future appears grim. Readers will cheer Fiona on through this beautifully illustrated story as she attempts to outsmart her magical foe.

Eve Titus & Paul Galdone

France: Anatole

A vintage classic, "Anatole" promises to whisk children off for a delicious Parisian adventure as the title character—an honorable mouse—sets off to earn an honest living as a top-secret cheese monger at a renowned French cheese company. It's whimsical and witty with sweeping illustrations of Paris streets.

John Steptoe

Zimbabwe: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

Travel around the world to Zimbabwe through this stunning take on the classic Cinderella story. Book-lovers will meet two sisters of opposing personalities, who face a series of tests to reveal their true selves, and ultimately determine their futures. This one is a Caldecott Honor Book and also has been widely praised for Steptoe's gorgeous illustrations.

Munro Leaf & Robert Lawson

Spain: The Story of Ferdinand

Another vintage favorite, "The Story of Ferdinand" takes place in Spain, where a tender-hearted and gentle bull refuses to take part in the nation's popular bull fights. Movie-lovers take note: the book is better (in this writer's humble opinion).

Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes

India: Ganesha's Sweet Tooth

A lively take on traditional Hindu folklore, "Ganesha's Sweet Tooth" tells the tale of a Hindu god. This book imagines his beginning as a "regular" boy with an elephant's head and an insatiable sweet tooth, who also happens to ride atop an enchanted mouse.

Sojourn Wallace, Bhumika Jangid, & Jane Elliot

Iceland: Margrét & The Elves of Iceland's Second Realm

Sojourn Wallace's children's book series, Every Girl, aims to tell the stories of real kids around the world in the hopes of inspiring understanding and acceptance across cultures. Margrét's story brings readers to Iceland, and is ultimately a tale about growing up without leaving the wonder and magic of childhood behind.


Read More: What Our Editors Are Reading to Their Kids About Strong Powerful Women Across the Globe