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{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: Travel the World with Books!

I can't believe I am three weeks behind with the Weekly Library Challenge, but some internet problems, a camping trip and a visit from my mom slowed down my blogging and I decided to take something of a blog-gy break to enjoy the extra family time. With the challenge, I typically share one book each week that the boys have been loving from the library and one book that I am reading. So, to catch up, I'll share three of each and then get back on track! 

Before starting a family, I always saved every penny so that I could travel overseas as much as possible. With a 3 1/2 year-old and almost 2 year-old, overseas travel has been put on hold, though we do hope that overseas travel can be part of our family experience at some point in the future. For the time being, though, we take advantage of living in Southern California and enjoying the beautiful and wonderful experiences right in our own area and exploring other cultures, countries and travel experiences through books! Lately, I've been reading travel books too and living vicariously through the stories of others and taking note of places I'd like to explore at some point in the future. 

Regarding library books the boys really love, I have three very different travel books: one about a boy who walks to Paris from his small town in France, another about a boy who travels to the moon and the final one about a chick who takes every form of transportation imaginable and travels through various terrains and locales to visit her grandmother. 

In Henri's Walk To Paris, Henri, who lives in a rural French town with only one park, one bus and one church,  dreams of visiting Paris. Finally, he decides to set out and make the trip -- on foot. Along his journey, he gets tired and lies down leaving his pencil pointing the way for him to go once he awakens. However, while he sleeps a bird turns the pencil around. When Henri awakens, he walks in the direction of the pencil and finds himself back at home -- thinking it is Paris and then, of course, realizing how much he loves his home. 

I love the design aesthetic of the book and the message as it reminds us to value and appreciate the wonderful things about our very own communities, friends and family. 

I think Paris is a destination that many people (adults and children) often dream of visiting (it was actually the first place I traveled to outside of the U.S.). It is a wonderful place to explore through books, and What Do We Do All Day has two wonderful Paris book lists: a picture book list and a chapter book list.  

The next book is a perfect travel book because it allows us to travel to a place that most of us will never travel to in reality -- the moon. Because of the amount of text in the book, If You Decide to Go to the Moon is probably a bit more appropriate for children a little older than mine, but I just summarize certain pages when I can tell my boys are eager to go on to the next page. I have found that this book, about a little boy who goes to the moon, totally enthralls them with its illustrations and imaginative journey. The boy explains everything that is necessary for a trip to the moon and also explains much about being on the moon as well. The book includes a lot of scientific information, which is presented in clear and accessible ways, including details about comets and meteors, zero gravity and the lack of air and sound on the moon. What I love the most, though, is the way the book ends with a deep appreciation for Planet Earth and a commitment by the boy to take care of the planet.

This book would be a great addition to any space or moon unit and Living Montessori Now has wonderful moon resources and learning ideas that could pair well with the book. For other space play ideas, learning activities and books, please also check out my Things That Go In Space! post. 

Where Is Coco Going? is a wonderfully fun book that is in constant rotation at our house. We return it to the library, then check it out again and renew, renew, renew. Then, we'll take a break and return it, but soon enough we'll check it out again. Our cute chick, Coco, takes a train, a taxi, a plane, a skateboard, a camel, a parachute and much more as she journeys to her grandmother's house. She bikes through Paris, rides through the desert on a camel and swims in the ocean with sharks. Her journey is exciting and the repetitive chorus of Where is Coco Going as she goes from place to place and vehicle to vehicle made the book an instant hit, as did the fact that once Coco finally arrived at her destination, the destination was her grandmother's house. If you have not read Where Is Coco Going? I recommend that you request it from your library as soon as possible! 

I love using books to explore different places and cultures with my boys. As we continue to travel through library books, I will continue to share!

Now, on to what I have been reading. I was hoping to share three recent books that I've been reading, but am realizing that I will just share two this week and then two next Saturday. I've enjoyed reading two very different travel books recently: 100 Places That Can Change Your Child's Life: From Your Backyard to the Ends of the Earth, a National Geographic Book written by Keith Bellows and The Conde Nest Travel Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Volume II. 

I love the way the National Geographic Book is set up. For each place, besides the main text that tells a bit about that place and why it is of value for a child to visit, Bellows also provides (in little inset boxes) other useful tidbits. The insets include: Fast Facts (trivia about the place), Know Before You Go (which I really loved because this section will have books, music, movies, etc. about the place), Nest (suggestions on great places for families to stay), Connections (organizations at that location that provide in depth information about the place/environment), Insider Tips, Get Involved (tips on how to give back and/or volunteer while at a travel spot), Objects of Wonder (cool cultural sites), Yum! (great places for families to eat), Words of Wisdom (conversation starters for discussing a place or world issue while at that place) and Buy Worthy (what product or souvenir is actually worth the price). 

Not every place includes every inset, but for almost every place there is the Know Before You Go box making this a great book for not only planning a future trip, but also for getting recommendations for books and movies about places around the globe.

For me, the book helped me see what California gems we've not yet explored as a family, gives me ideas of places I'd like us to go to as a family in the future, and helps me build my library list as I seek to use books to explore different places and cultures as a family while our travel is limited. 

The other travel book, which I really enjoyed is The Conde Nast Traveler Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Volume II which is a book in which each chapter explores a different place with a different writer for each chapter as well. The writers are all celebrated authors and journalists and their experiences and rich writing styles are captivating. It is not your typical travel book, but in all the best ways. Through each chapter, I became completely engrossed in that person's travel experience and, definitely, began some day dreams of my own regarding certain locations like Arctic Canada, Belize and Bhutan. Each author is truly experiencing the place, rather than checking off a list of tourist sites, which means the reader gets a rich understanding of the place and culture. I think Volume I is going to be at the top of my library list. I also am now aware of the Conde Nast Traveler website/magazine, which the books grew out of and plan to peruse it a bit too.  

I cannot express how valuable I believe travel and cultural exploration and learning is. If I had not traveled to Egypt (to study abroad), I probably would not have met my husband, who also studied abroad in Egypt that semester, nor would I have gained such a valuable understanding of Islam as a religion and culture, an understanding I am so grateful for given many of the misrepresentations and narrow stereotypes that pervade American culture. 

Nor would I have had the opportunity to see the beautiful historical and archaeological city of Petra and the amazing wealth of history all around in Jerusalem. And that travel experience and all that I gained from it is just the tip of the iceberg. I truly hope I can raise my children with experiences that open their minds, provide them with a great understanding of the world and foster in them the ability to respect others and to restrain from fear of the unknown. I know that travel -- whether it be through books or excursions -- can help to do that. 

I also want to share a few of my other favorite sites/resources for exploring different places and cultures with kids: World Culture for Kids from Mama Smiles, Kid World Citizen, Around the World in 12 Dishes from Glittering Muffins, and Multicultural Kid Blogs. Plus, some favorite Pinboards: Around the World with KidsMulticultural Kid Blogs: Raising Global Citizens, and Around the World in 12 Dishes Pinboard. You should also check out this post from The Educators' Spin On It where they share Top Global Pinterest Boards to Teach Your Children About the World

Sharing at: Link and LearnMontessori Monday, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Tuesday Tots, Artsy Play Wednesday, Mom's Library and It's Playtime!

You might also like:

Hush! Thai Lullaby
International Children's Book Day
Travel Through Food


  1. Awesome resources, Jen! Thanks so much for including my post! I pinned your post to my Kids' Geography Pinterest Board.

  2. From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors had another travel chapter book post for audio books. The books were also about road trips.

    Thought that might be fun to add to your great list!

  3. Very interesting post Jennifer. I am definitely looking for some of these at the library!

  4. Great post! Thanks for including Multicultural Kid Blogs, and for sharing at the Culture Swapper!


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