Books and resources to prepare kids for worldschooling, or any family travels
What is the best school in the world? Ask a worldschooler and they’ll answer “the whole world is a school!”
Many families, including ours, are choosing family travel to give our kids the best education we can provide. Whether as dedicated worldschoolers, travelling long-term around the globe, or by including travel experiences among school and other commitments, there have never been so many children benefitting from the rich learning that travelling naturally imparts.
Here we want to give you an idea of the best books and resources that have helped us prepare for travelling long-term with kids. Before we left for our first worldschooling adventure in 2017, we sought out stories and child-friendly information that would help Dante and Allegra to get a good sense of our earth and all of its inhabitants. Below are their favourites: we didn’t list any that they didn’t enjoy or find helpful. I’ve included quotes from my children within the post too, so you know what they actually think!
I also asked some other travelling families what they have loved to prepare for their travels, so this post covers even more resources for you. It has great suggestions for older age groups too, thanks to wonderful submissions from well-travelled teenager Leo. However you’re travelling, and whether you’re heading for some outdoor adventures or staying in the middle of a huge city, there are ideas here that we know your kids will benefit from.
We’ve split our recommendations into approximate age ranges, but of course you know your kids best! Many of these resources are appropriate for all age groups.
While we prepared the kids well for travelling, we still made many mistakes departing for our first overseas adventure! This post has great tips for planning full-time family travel, and avoiding many of the disasters we found ourselves in!
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Resources for 1-4 year olds
This gentle story has poetic wording and beautiful illustrations for young children. Allegra has always loved this book, which follows a baby along scenic adventures and animal encounters. It’s lovely for younger children and budding outdoor adventurers.
Allegra loves: “the baby, and the horse, and the fire, and when they walk in the forest.”
TV show by CBeebies In-house Production and BBC Worldwide
Picture and activity books available from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
This groovy show follows a team of superheroes led by Ubicorn the Unicorn, who help out anywhere around the globe that they’re needed. They have ‘funky facts’ about each location, and it gently teaches about famous places and other countries by the Go Jetters’ interactions with them. It’s fun, easy to watch, and has disco music!
Dante: “I like the click-ons, and it’s good if you like travelling and seeing lots of places.”
Allegra: “I love the unicorn.”
Allegra loves Maisy, so we borrowed this book before taking her on her first big plane trip when she was nearly 2. As with all Maisy books, the story is simple and demonstrates kindness and friendship beautifully. It was a great for learning about all the special things that happen in an airport and once you get on a plane.
Allegra: “I love Maisy and Ella the koala!”
My Incredible Sticker Atlas
Sticker book by Hinkler Books
Available from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
Dante and Allegra had a lot of fun with this! It has 4 pull-out posters, and two of them are maps of the world. On one map kids can find each country’s flag and put them in the correct place, and on the other, they can find different animals for each continent. It was great for learning about where animals are from and the flags of the world, and it also has a space and dinosaur section too.
Allegra: “I love finding animals!”
Whoever You Are
Book by Mem Fox
Available in English and Spanish from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
This is my favourite children’s book for demonstrating cultural acceptance. I love the simple messages of love, the rich yet child-friendly illustrations, and the questions it has raised from my kids. It is great for younger kids but is still worthwhile for 5+ year olds.
Allegra: “I love the flying man and the flying kids”.
Resources for 5-8 year olds
This is a beautiful atlas made specifically for kids to enjoy. It has brief information on important things to know for different continents, like climate, environment, transport and natural resources, and it also has some lift-the-flaps for other interesting details. The pictures are rich and highlight specific animals, buildings and landscapes for each region.
Dante: “This is an interesting book, we read a lot about South-East Asia before we visited there.”
Coco recommended & reviewed by Leo
Movie by Pixar
Readers and activity books plus a music-sheet songbook available from the Book Depository (free delivery worldwide)
Digital books and comics available instantly on iTunes
Miguel is a boy living in a family of shoemakers, who have a generation-long ban on music. Many years ago, his great-great-grandfather left his great-great-grandmother, and their daughter, Coco, to become a musician.
Despite the ban, Miguel plays guitar, and dreams of becoming a musician like his idol, Ernesto De La Cruz. But what happens when his secret is found out? Trouble with a capital T.
He steals De La Cruz’s guitar from the cemetery and finds himself transported to the land of the dead. There, he meets his ancestors, who explain the only way to return, is for an ancestor to give him their blessing. There’s one catch. He can’t return unless he never plays music again.
Leo: “This movie was terrific, a fantastic tribute to Mexican culture and the Day of the Dead, (Dia De Los Muertos). It portrayed the Mexico I know and love, only in the past, and with a dusting of magic.”
Greetings from Somewhere is a fabulous series chronicling twins Ella and Ethan on adventures through nine different countries. Their mum lands a job as a travel writer and gets to take her whole family with her to explore popular travel destinations and report back to their local newspaper. The twins love solving mysteries and end up helping and investigating something in each country they visit, as well as learning a bit of the lingo, history and customs. Dante loved these books when he was 5 and 6.
Dante: “Good if you like travelling, they show you a lot about the world and there’s lots of places in the series too: in the snow, in the sun, anywhere!”
Book by Jonathon Litton
Hardback books in English and German available from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
This is a wonderful idea: lift the flaps to say ‘hello’ in all languages around the world! It’s got great information about languages, such as how many speakers are in each location, their pronunciation, those that have been lost and their actual written form. We practiced saying hello in all the languages of the countries we want to visit, as well as 4 indigenous Australian languages. It’s a fascinating one for older kids, and adults!
Dante: “It’s great if you want to learn how to say hello in all different languages.”
Lonely Planet Kids reviewed and recommended by Kyla and Calais of Where is the World
Huge range of titles available from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
Digital books available instantly from iTunes
We’ve always loved the Lonely Planet Kids books to prep the kiddos for travel. The girl’s current favourite is ‘The Travel Book’. It has a page for every country in the world, each containing stats, random facts, some pictures and a few key words in the local language.
Their other favourite is the ‘Not For Parents’ books. The quirky info is fun & kid friendly, and really makes the various countries and cultures come to life for them.
Calais: “I like when I know what we’re doing on a trip, but I like it even more when it’s a surprise. Like once, when my Mom & Dad surprised me with going to Disney Paris at the end of a trip, I liked that surprise!’
All titles also available from Lonely Planet.com:
[Emma here again] Lonely Planet also has many other books for kids of all ages, and their quality is always excellent. I love how they create basic language books for toddlers, as well as pop-ups and activity books, resources about countries, cities, specific landscapes and animals, and others like how to be a spy or space explorer. They also have travel journals and record-books for kids, and Dante really enjoyed his journal when we travelled through SE Asia.
The same entertaining, informative National Geographic, only aimed at kids. They do a great job of catering to younger curious minds. Animals, the weather, nature and people are some of the many topics that they cover in their videos.
“A great channel full of interesting videos, but aimed at younger kids, usually 5-12. If you have teens, they might start to lose interest.”
Millimages TV Show
Hardback book Around the World with Mouk and many singular country adventures available in English and Spanish from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
I love this show, which follows Mouk and his best friend Chavapa as they travel around the world on their bikes. It focuses on them meeting others on their adventures, as they make new friends and receive or give help to others as they go. They also keep in touch with their friends back home via their laptop, and it’s lovely to see their all of their relationships based on kindness and sharing their discoveries.
Allegra: “This show makes me happy! I like the animals the most.”
Dante: “It’s a cool show. If you like travelling you might like to watch it. You get to see cool stuff, how things work, internet connections and everything! You learn that you can travel just on your bike around the entire world.”
The Mr Chicken series
Books by Leigh Hobbs
Hardback books available from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
These are hilarious! Mr Chicken is an unusual traveller but a very passionate one and he has some great adventures in London, Paris and Rome. A lovely series for light-hearted but interesting peeks at different places.
Dante: “Mr Chicken is really funny, and he gets to see the Queen! And he has a funny way to land in London, and leave again. And he has a very long tongue and likes licking other people’s ice-cream!”
The Mr Chicken books are also available digitally from eBooks.com:
One Day: Around the World in 24 Hours
Hardback book by Suma Din
Available from the Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)
Dante was fascinated with this book, which follows the stories of 15 children and their families from 15 countries as they go about a typical day or night. It’s a longer book, children 5 and over would appreciate it most I think.
Dante: “you get to see a lot around the world and get to see every place at the same time. People were having breakfast while others were having dinner at the same time!”
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Resources for 8-12 year olds
Life goes from normal to a roller-coaster ride overnight for teenager Andi Mack. It all happens on her 13th birthday when free-spirited older sister Bex – who has been travelling around the world – returns home to make a revelation, which changes everything for the Mack family.
It turns out that Bex isn’t Andi’s sister – she is her mother. Celia, who Andi thought was her mom, is her grandmother. Learning this family secret sends Andi on a strange course of self-discovery.
“This show is heart-warming and features a family with strong, healthy bonds, (despite the apparent turmoil). Andi Mack isn’t some dolled up 13-year old going on 20, she’s refreshingly real. The cast is ethnically diverse, and one of the main characters is Jewish. (Score!)”
Global Guardian Project
Global Guardian Academy
We love the resources from Global Guardian Project, as they can be used anywhere and they focus on helping our kids become aware and empowered change-makers. Each course has a strong focus on helping the earth by discussing environmental and social issues, but also provides art projects, books reviews, recipes, challenges to complete and more.
Global Guardian Project also has e-books available to purchase on the same topics, and some are appropriate for younger age groups.
Dante: “I liked learning about endangered species, and seeing we are doing good things already to have less rubbish.”
Minute Earth makes short videos covering all sorts of topics in our fantastic world. From explaining our genetics to why are there penguins at the equator, Minute Earth covers science, geography and a little dose of incredible facts.
“Minute Earth gives interesting information in a short, entertaining format, with excellent stick figure animation. It’s become a favourite of mine for learning quick, fun facts.”
Miraculous: Tales Of Ladybug and Cat Noir recommended & reviewed by Leo
Zagtoon TV show
Paperbacks in Spanish and English available from the Book Depository
Digital books available in English, Italian and French from iTunes
Marienette Dupain-Cheng is a young teenager living in Paris. She leads a normal life, has loving parents and friends, works hard at school, and tries, (but fails) to impress her crush, Adrien.
But she has a secret… She leads a double life, as the protector of Paris, Ladybug.
She and her superhero partner, Cat Noir are always ready to save Paris from villains. The show follows them as they balance their superhero responsibilities and normal lives.
“This is a well-animated series, sweet and often innocent fun. With Paris as the setting, it exposes you to many parts of the vibrant city, from the Eiffel Tower to the fashion industry. Something that impressed me was they use quick thinking rather than violence to defeat the villain.”
Part Adventure Documentary. Part Nature Show. Part Educational. All a whole lot of fun. Nature Boom Time is a series created by a guy called Charlie, his friend Patrick, and his sisters Kirby and Casey. The three went on a massive road trip around the USA.
Along the way, they discovered the amazing nature America has to offer.
“Nature Boom Time is one of my all time favourite road-trip shows on the US. Charlie and his friends go to some of the obvious spots, Californian Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. But they have a seriously fun way of explaining the world around them. Involving paper cutouts.”
Created by the same organisation that created Ted Conferences, TED-Ed is a channel with a plethora of educational videos. They cover all sorts of subjects, from science to writing to culture to way too many to list! Pairing great animators and voice-over artists, be prepared for some amazing content.
“Yeah, hands down, I love TED-Ed. They churn out some incredible content every month. Every time I watch a video, I feel myself thinking, how can you learn so much from a 5 min video?”
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Resources for teens
Crash Course was started by two brothers, John and Hank Green with the intent of creating fun, educational courses that could be learned over a few weeks. A few years later and they have video series on nearly everything, from World History to Sociology.
“Crash Course is huge, there are courses on literally everything. I was first introduced to Crash Course through their World History course, and wow, I learned many things. My next objective is World Mythology, their lessons could actually make you excited about learning.”
Geography Now is the only Youtube Channel attempting to make a video series covering each country in the world. They include essential items like the Captial City, physical geography and demographics. But the videos are chock-full of fun and exciting information.
“I love this channel, it’s one of my favourite educational channels. The host, Paul Barbato, (Barby), is engaging and the videos are amusing to watch. I’ve learnt a lot as well.”
This channel is a science channel, and it focuses on answering questions and on fascinating but everyday parts of science most tend to ignore. It’s an entertaining, interesting look at our world.
“Joe Hanson is a friendly, curious host, and his personality shines on camera. The episodes involve comedy, with many clever references and dumb puns. He combines science with entertainment to make a great series.”
Founded by one half of the brothers that created the channel Crash Course, this show has a daily schedule. Each day a new video, each with a certain theme. But with every video, one thing rings true. A short, factual informative look at one part of our huge world.
“I discovered SciShow a couple of years ago, and although the content has changed since then, the quality hasn’t. In fact, it’s become even better. The three hosts, (Hank Green, Michael Aranda, Olivia Gordon) each bring their own charm to the videos, which is great.”
Wendover Productions is a channel dedicated to explaining how our world works. From explaining why cities exists to maritime law and how cruise ships work. Sam from Wendover covers all sorts of topics you knew nothing about, until now.
“Wendover Productions has been going for several years now, and I’ve always liked their videos. I especially like all the shows on flight, and explaining how airports work. For someone who has been in quite a few, I wanted to know how they run.”
Territorial Anomalies! Or, territorial disputes. Whatever you want to call them, WonderWhy is a geography channel that focuses on countries and their territories. Some of these are really interesting! Plus a whole heap of videos on history, sociology and the like.
“The videos are rich and detailed, packed with knowledge. He balances it with great animation and visuals. I think they’re perfect for those who want to go deeper into geography.”
We hope that has given you some great ideas for books and other resources for your family’s travels and adventures. What have we missed? We’d love to hear what your kids have enjoyed too! And please share this post if you found it helpful!
Read more about some of our adventures, including:
- volunteering to help sea turtles on Tioman Island, Malaysia,
- seeing elephants in the forest in Northern Thailand,
- visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia,
- responsibly exploring Siem Reap, Cambodia,
- and making paper from elephant poo!
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