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The Ticketless Traveler, Children's Literature @ NYPL

Around The World in 80+ Children's Books


Summer is here and with it comes the joy of getting away from it all. While we research our destinations with some assistance from guidebooks, children don't really have that option. Unless you are lucky enough to travel to a small number of selected destinations covered by the wonderful Lonely Planet Not For Parents Guides, your younger traveling companions will be deprived of any guidance. This does not have to be the case. Books on this list offer young travelers a great opportunity to explore new cultures through a colorful world of illustrated picture books . They can introduce  children to the rich cultural heritage  of your international destinations.

Even if your pilgrimage to a dream destination is entirely imaginary, picture books  can offer kids an introduction to a wonderful world of armchair travel. If you can't take your child to another country, visiting cultural institutions and ethnic neighborhoods throughout New York City can have similar benefits. How lucky are we to reside in a city that offers unparalleled opportunities for cultural exploration? The Museum of the Chinese in America or Asia Society could be visited in conjunction with your favorite Chinatown landmark or Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. A trip to El Museo del Barrio can be combined can with a quick lunch at Cuchifritos or Cabana. New Yorkers have always been known for their special appreciation of cultural differences. Let's keep this tradition going!

My criterion for inclusion was rather narrow, as this list was originally compiled for a specific class of students at PS 59, Beekman Hill International. Located in close proximity to the United Nations, Beekman Hill  is a perfect microcosm of a vibrant global village. In selecting books for a specific location ,  I attempted to cover that country's customs, folklore, traditions, cuisine, art, fashion, cultural attitudes to childhood, as well as famous historical figures. Artistic and literary merits of the book, as well as its current availability were taken into consideration. Given a wide variety of children's reading levels, as well as the indisputable appeal of picture books to readers of all ages, I would recommend this list to children from kindergarten all the way to middle school.

Many versions of the story of Cinderella (Persia, China, Egypt, Korea, South Africa, the Caribbean, Mexico, Ireland, India, France and Russia) are part of this reading list. Reading several versions of this familiar fairytale can help kids identify differences in another country's way of life, while simultaneously affirming our cross-cultural bond of being human.

There is a separate list of nonfiction titles that readers may find helpful while traveling with a child. Travel, or the promise of it in the future, offers unique educational opportunities. International travel can introduce a child to the splendors of past and present civilizations. It can foster an appreciation of cultural differences and offer a newfound perspective on life at home. A better understanding of foreign relations is an added benefit of international travel.

We would love to receive book recommendations for this list from readers of all ages.

Have a nice trip! Bon Voyage! Счастливого пути ! 잘다녀오십시오! Hyvää matkaa!    よい旅を    Καλό ταξίδι! Góða ferð سفر خوش

Selected Children's Travel Nonfiction




Caribbean Islands




Czech Republic














































New Zealand










South Africa












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Books about Egypt

This is an exciting list - and the selections about Egypt are excellent, but it would be great to focus as well on modern Egypt, not just the ancient stories. There is more to Egypt than pyramids and mummies! Ahmed's Secret reflects this but also please consider Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books about the Egyptian protesters who protected the great library in Alexandria in 2011. Other excellent books about Africa are winners of the Children's Africana Book Awards

Thank you for your

Thank you for your suggestions. Africana Book Awards is a great resource !

Justice pond di Road

This is great list! I am the author of a children's picture book about Jamaica. It's called Justice pon di Road and is about the sights, sounds and tastes of island culture as experienced by a young boy and his mom on a morning walk. Check out our Facebook page! The book has a patois glossary in the back as well as other great information about the island.

Thank you for your interest

Thank you for your interest and suggestion !

Exclusion of certain countries

I do appreciate this list, and I read the reasoning behind what was included. I am just a bit disappointed that aside from one book from Cuba, which could be categorized as part of the Caribbean, there are no other books representing Central or South America. But thank you for these.

Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at NYPL

I am very happy that you enjoyed this blog and understood my selection criteria. While many books that are honored by a Pura Belpré Award might not be entirely relevant to this blog post, they might assuage your very understandable disappointment. The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth
Thank you for creating this wonderful list for young travelers and their parents. I would like to suggest two more titles for France. I am the author of Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Dog, which is available at 12 New York Public Library branches, and the upcoming Hudson in Provence (coming May 2015). In Paris-Chien, an adventurous Norwich Terrier can’t wait to meet some French dogs while exploring his new city. But there’s a problem: the Parisian dogs only speak French. Determined to make friends, he eventually learns a new language, thanks to lessons from—who else?—a French poodle. Hudson in Provence (coming May 2015) continues Hudson's adventures while on vacation in the south of France. A believer in the “when in Rome” school of travel, Hudson wants to do everything the local provençal dogs do. It’s only when he stops imitating them that he discovers his own unique talent.

I would like to suggest a

I would like to suggest a beautifully written, culturally rich picture book by Johanna Hurwitz, New Shoes for Sylvia, which is set in "another America" and includes words and phrases in Spanish and scenes which were familiar to young Latino-American students with whom I shared it.


This is a terrific assortment!


I would add Ruby's Wish (China), Rickshaw Girl (Bangladesh), Seesaw Girl (7th Century Korea), and many of Allen Say's books.


THE SANDWICH SWAP by Her Majesty Queen Rania Abdullah of Jordan represents Jordan well.

Loved it!

I'm a Brazilian writer and I have this project to read one children's book for each country. That list will help me a lot! But I'm sad Brazil is missing. I would add Monteiro Lobato and his work, I love all of his books, but my favorite is Reinações de Narizinho. Bisa Bia Bisa Bel by Ana Maria Machado is a great one too. Thanks for sharing your work! Kisses from Brazil! :)


The Story of Ping by Mrajorie Flack and Kurt Wiese. A duck lives on a wise-eyed boat on the Yangtze River. I read children's books to my high school Geography classes and they love it. Any other suggestions?

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