Today I’m sharing a list of books to help you journey around the world with your kids this summer! This list contains 26 books from the main 7 continental regions that are perfect to borrow from the library or purchase to read together as an epic travel journey around the world. Most of the books are suitable for early elementary ages, however there are a few novels or chapter books that I’ve included for families to read together or for older kids to read on their own. (affiliate links to books included)
Depending on how long your summer vacation lasts, these 26 books could be read at a pace of about 2-3 per week. You can choose your own pace and even your own order of reading, and I’m sharing a free printable of the full list to help guide you in your journey!
Books from Around the World
Books about AFRICA
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story : Two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.
Who Was Nelson Mandela? : Nelson Mandela spent his life battling apartheid and championing a peaceful revolution. He spent twenty-seven years in prison and emerged as the inspiring leader of the new South Africa. He became the country’s first black president and went on to live his dream of change.
We All Went On Safari : Join Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their Maasai friends as they set out on a counting journey through the grasslands of Tanzania. Along the way, the children encounter all sorts of animals including elephants, lions and monkeys, while counting from one to ten in both English and Swahili. The lively, rhyming text is accompanied by an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili, a map, notes about each of the animals, and interesting facts about Tanzania and the Maasai people.
Books about ANTARCTICA
Eve of the Emperor Penguin (Magic Tree House #40) : This time, the Magic Tree House takes them to the one continent they haven’t visited before: Antarctica! What can they hope to learn about happiness in such a barren place? Only the penguins know for sure . . . Jack and Annie are about to find out!
Polar Opposites : Alex is a BIG polar bear. Zina is a tiny penguin. Alex lives in the Arctic. Zina lives in the Antarctic. Alex and Zina are polar opposites! They live on opposite sides of the world. Their personalities are very different, too. But they find a way to meet in the middle.
Books about ASIA
The Littlest Matryoshka : After quite an adventure, the smallest of six nesting dolls finds her way back to her sisters.
The Empty Pot (An Owlet Book) : When the Chinese emperor proclaims that his successor will be the child who grows the most beautiful flowers from the seeds the emperor distributes, Ping is overjoyed. Like the emperor, he loves flowers and anything he plants bursts into bloom. But the emperor’s seed will not grow, despite months of loving care, and Ping goes before the emperor carrying only his empty pot.
Monsoon : Children play, birds call, and grownups go about their business during the hot days of summer in northern India. But in the bustle of street and marketplace, everyone is watching, waiting for those magical clouds to bring their gift of rain to the land.
I Live in Tokyo : Far away, in the Pacific Ocean, Tokyo is a busy city of color, activity, celebrations, gigantic buildings, and much more. Seven-year-old Mimiko lives in Tokyo, and here you can follow a year’s worth of fun, food and festivities in Mimiko’s life, month by month.
Books about OCEANIA
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas : Here is the incredible story of Elizabeth, a real-life elephant seal who made her home in the Avon River in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. When Elizabeth decides to stretch out across a two-lane road, the citizens worry she might get hurt or cause traffic accidents, so a group of volunteers tows her out to sea. But Elizabeth swims all the way back to Christchurch.
Are We There Yet? : Join Grace and her family as they hit the road camping, experiencing, and meeting all the people and places that make up Australia.
Diary of a Wombat : Here, in the words of one unusually articulate wombat, is the tongue-in-cheek account of a busy week; eating, sleeping, digging holes . . . and training its new neighbors, a family of humans, to produce treats on demand.
Books about EUROPE
The Cat Who Walked Across France : The cat and the old woman have lived happily together for many years in the stone house by the sea. But when the old woman dies, the cat is packed up with her belongings and sent north to the village where she was born. Soon he is forgotten. He walks the streets aimlessly until, spurred by memories and a longing to return to the place he knows and loves, the cat embarks on a journey to find the home he was taken away from.
Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world : Hold onto your hats! It’s windy on the Danish island of Samsø. Meet the environmentally friendly people who now proudly call their home Energy Island.
This is London : Sasek has cast his loving eye on London and the result are colorful, sophisticated pictures of one of the most exciting cities in the world, paired with a lively text that keeps a playful sense of fun while taking the reader to the highlights of one of the world’s great capitals.
Zoe Sophia’s Scrapbook: An Adventure in Venice : Adventurous Zoe Sophia and her dog, Mickey, embark on a whirlwind trip to Venice to visit her great aunt Dorothy Pomander. During her stay, Zoe Sophia sees the sites, explores the city and bonds with her wonderful, quirky aunt.
Books about SOUTH AMERICA
Journey to the River Sea : It is 1910 and Maia, tragically orphaned at 13, has been sent from England to start a new life with distant relatives in Manaus, hundreds of miles up the Amazon. She is accompanied by an eccentric and mysterious governess who has secret reasons of her own for making the journey.
Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia : A man, his burros, and his books bring joy to children in remote Colombian villages in this inspiring book based on a true story.
The Rainforest Grew All Around : The jungle comes alive as children learn about a wide variety of the animals (jaguars, emerald tree boas, leafcutter ants, sloths, poison dart frogs, toucans, and bats) and plants (kapok trees, liana vines, and bromeliads) living in the lush Amazon rainforest.
Books about NORTH AMERICA
The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred : This is the story of how the farm maiden and all the farm animals worked together to make the rice pudding that they serve at the fiesta. With the familiarity of “The House That Jack Built,” this story bubbles and builds just like the ingredients of the arroz con leche that everyone enjoys.
Alligator Pie : One of the first illustrated books published about Canadian children and featuring Canadian place names, Alligator Pie established Dennis Lee’s reputation as “Canada’s Father Goose” and has sold more than half a million copies since its publication in 1974.
The Loon’s Necklace : According to Canadian Indian legend, when an old man’s sight was restored by Loon he gave the bird his precious shell necklace as a reward. That is why the loon has a white collar and speckles on its back.
Laundry Day : In a picture book that blends realism and fantasy, a shoeshine boy is surprised when a
piece of red silk falls from the sky. Trying to find its owner, he ventures up and down
fire escapes, back and forth across clotheslines, and into the company of the colorfully
diverse people who live in the tenement.
Anne of Green Gables : Beloved novel tells the story of Anne Shirley, an endearingly talkative and precocious 11-year-old orphan who comes to live on the farm of an elderly brother and sister on Canada’s Prince Edward Island.
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses : “There was a girl in the village who loved horses… She led the horses to drink at the river. She spoke softly and they followed. People noticed that she understood horses in a special way.” And so begins the story of a young Native American girl devoted to the care of her tribe’s horses.
Locomotive (Caldecott Medal Book) : It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with descriptive details of the journey: the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean.
Now, here’s the printable for your Summer Reading Challenge, although you could read around the world anytime, not just in the summer! Happy travels and journeys, may your mind be opened to a whole new world!