Borders have re-opened and quarantine rules have become more relaxed in most countries, so you might be looking into international travel during the upcoming long break. Pick a few books from this children’s book list about the country you plan to visit beforehand, to get your kids excited and immersed in the culture of your next holiday destination.
Here are some selections to help you and your family read your way around a few countries in the world. Your kids will get excited and immersed in the culture of your next holiday destination! These reads can also serve as meaningful souvenirs, to help you relive your holiday moments when you are back home again.
Have a look at these three non-fiction picture books on Australian icons and animals before you dive into the sights and sounds of the land down under:
A is for Australia, A Factastic Tour by award winning author and illustrator, Frané Lessac. Access the read-aloud here.
A is for Australian Animals, A Factastic Tour, also by Frané Lessac. There is no read-aloud video for this particular book, but there is a read-aloud video for her other book called Australian Baby Animals that younger kids might like.
Kookaburra Kookaburra by Bridget Farmer is another beautiful book that focuses on Australian birds. Here’s a little video about the author’s inspiration for the book.
If looking for a silly whimsical picture book to read with the little ones, Koalas Eat Gum Leaves by Laura and Philip Bunting will put a big smile on your face. There is a similar one on Kookaburras. Sneak a peek in this read-aloud video.
The publisher’s description for Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami reads: “This book depicts a wonderful children’s story of anticipation, seasonal changes, and the beauty of urban India.” Read it to your kids before an Indian holiday or watch the read-aloud here.
We love the children’s picture books from Tara Books. Tiger On A Tree written by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated by Pulak Biswas is an evergreen favourite in our home. The book’s interesting illustrations are done in the traditional Indian folk art style, giving children another cultural touchpoint. You can find the read-aloud here.
Imagery from the Indian epic Ramayana is present in any trip to India, so do check out Ramayana: The Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel. The beautiful modern illustrations bring the classical story to life for today’s kids.
Planning a trip to Tokyo? Pick up I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi about seven-year-old Mimiko who lives in the Japanese capital city. Follow her daily activities as she shows us a year’s worth of fun, food and festivities in her life. Watch the read-aloud here.
Before visiting the famous Hachiko statue near Tokyo’s Shibuya Station, read Hachiko by Yan Nascimbene or watch the read-aloud here.
Is your family a fan of Japanese food? The English versions of the long-running comic book series Oishinbo may be up your alley. The word ‘OIshinbo’ combines the Japanese word for delicious, oishii, and the word for someone who loves to eat, kuishinbo. Reading like a drama series, it features journalist Shirō Yamaoka from Tōzai Shimbun who has an incredibly refined palate and encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese food.
Thinking of visiting Korea? Check out this beautifully illustrated picture book, Where’s Halmoni?(Grandmother in Korean) by debut author Julie Kim presented in graphic-novel style. The story follows a young Korean girl and boy who go in search for their missing grandmother. They discover a world inspired by Korean folklore, and meet with mischievous goblins (dokkebi), a greedy tiger, a clever rabbit, and a wily fox. Sneak a peek via this read-aloud video.
My kids love eating Bee-bim Bop. So, this cheerful book about an excited and hungry little Korean American girl helping her mother make this Korean rice dish by Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park is one of their favourite reads. Told in bouncy rhyming text, this fun story takes us along as they go shopping, prepare the ingredients, set the table, and finally sit down as a family to enjoy their favourite meal. Listen to the lively read-aloud here.
Older kids can check out See Saw Girl and A Single Shard, historical fiction books also by Linda Sue Park featuring protagonists and plots from ancient Korea.
What do the animals from the Singapore Zoo do on their day off? They meet for Afternoon Tea at Raffles Hotel, of course! This fun little book for early readers is celebrates important landmarks and icons in Singapore. It also has an accompanying activity book.
What really happened when Sang Nila Utama landed on Singapore’s shores? Why were people so keen to have monkeys in the Botanic Gardens? What makes Changi Airport so efficient? Unlock the answers and uncover other things you never knew about Singapore, from the ancient past to its independence in 1965 to the present time and beyond, through these six books in the Secrets of Singapore series. Perfect for the ‘young and young at heart’.
The Little Singapore Book is written for 5- to 10-year-olds and introduces young readers to the island’s history and culture through vibrant narratives and vivid illustrations.
Europe, the Americas and World Cities
Our family’s usual ‘go-to’s’ when it comes to picture books on famous world cities are the two series by Salvatore Rubino and Miroslav Sasek.
Watch and listen to the read-alouds for Rubino’s A Walk in Paris and A Walk in London. You can also find a read-aloud of Sasek’s famous This is New York picture book here and read about the Sasek Foundation here. Sasek’s books provide deep insights into the culture, history and communities in a given city.
Last but not least, we love, love, love this illustrated book, City Atlas: Travel the World with 30 City Maps and cannot recommend it enough. The book brings to life 30 best-loved cities from around the world and shows in fabulous detail its key landmarks, famous people, iconic buildings and cultural icons.
Tell us about your own family’s favourite books for children about countries and cities around the world!