A Week of Armchair Traveling at books4yourkids.com

Photo by Neil Theasby
This week is dedicated to all the armchair travelers out there who will be enjoying staycations this summer and to everyone else who will be traveling - with kids - at any time. This week I'm partnering with Erica, who blogs about  "decidedly urban illustrated and chapter books for children" at StoriedCities to bring you book lists to enrich your (and your kids') visits to cities all over the world. I'm kicking off the week today with a review of a fantastic book set in Thailand, Tua and the Elephant, by RP Harris with gorgeous illustrations by Taeeun Yoo. On Monday, look for an interview with Erica about traveling, traveling with kids and finding books about cities that are worth reading. 

But first, I wanted to share two books with you that are ideal for trip planning and getting to know a country and its people before visiting.

Storybook Travels: From Eloise's New York to Harry Potter's London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children's Literature by Colleen Dunn Bates and Susan Latempa is, sadly, out of print but still available to purchase used. These authors clearly know their kids books and have put a lot of thought into the trips they planned. For a look at the table of contents, click googlebooks. The author's also know (and have traveled with) kids, as this quote from the Little Women/Concord, MA chapter reveals, "Storybook Travels, you'll note, is light on author's houses - they typically bore kids more quickly than a Masterpiece Theater marathon." The great thing about Storybook Travels is that they also tell you a bit about the book that is the center of the given itinerary. So, if you are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, you can read a synopsis of Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry. Each itinerary also includes the names and addresses of organizations and businesses that might be helpful in planning the trip or during the trip. One final thing, as this book is ten years old, keep in mind some of the information might have changed. Hopefully these two are working on a new book!

While I think that both the adult and kid versions of Hungry Planet/What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio with photographs by Peter Mnezel are fantastic reading anytime, these books give an intimate glimpse into the lives of families all over the world and just might even help prepare finicky eaters for a trip abroad. D'Aluisio and Menzel traveled around the world and asked families to pose in their kitchens (when they had kitchens) with all their food for the week. They photographed 30 families in 24 countries with food totaling 600 meals. While the kid version, What the World Eats, has fewer families featured in the book, it does boast visually appealing graphs and charts that put into context populations, density, life expectancy and the availability of fresh drinking water, something we in America, our kids especially, may not think about. Literacy and fertility rates are also charted as well as the number of McDonald's restaurants in every country visited along with Big Mac prices, the percentage of the population that is overweight and obese , the annual meat consumption of the country and available daily caloric intake. 
Despite the wealth of fascinating facts, these books are compelling even without taking an in depth look at the food availability and eating habits of any given country. You can look through the book with your kids and notice the different ways that people package milk all over the world. The chicken chart, in which one chicken silhouette represents every 10 pounds of meat consumed per person in each country is especially compelling. While countries like Bhutan and India have one chicken per person, America and Australia have 25 and 27 per person! That's 250 pounds of meat consumed PER PERSON in these countries each year. That means that, with the rise of vegetarian and veganism, there must be quite a few people out there eating more than their 250 pounds!  One aspect of Hungry Planet, the adult version, that I appreciate, are the essays about food from people like Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle and Francine R Kaufman provide interesting essays that add to the information in the book. The kid version, What the World Eats, is only available in hardcover for about $17 and the paperback of the adult version, Hungry Planet, is available in paperback for almost the same price!

I hope you enjoy the posts on books from all over the world and, 
Bon Voyage!

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