Whether you are a home-schooler by choice or if you have fallen into it by necessity as so many of us have right now, finding the right books to ignite our little people’s curiosity is an important element of any kitchen classroom. Sure, technology is an amazing learning tool, but nothing really beats a good book.
Here at Lonely Planet Kids, we’ve been publishing books about the world for children since 2008. That’s a lot of books, so we thought it would be helpful to share our favourites for specific areas of the curriculum.
Kids all over the world have been captivated by the amazing facts, quirky insights and educational illustrations in Travel Book for Kids. It’s the perfect book to use when a question arises about a specific country or part of the world. The series also currently extends to the Cities Book for Kids and the Animal Book for Kids, both of which use the same easy-to-access child-friendly design.
Sticking with the cities theme, when it comes to urban geography, How Cities Work, brilliantly illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock, is an introduction to the development and functioning of our metropolitan areas. It also has flaps to lift and gatefolds to turn over so there’s plenty to explore within each page. Kids who love animals will have their imaginations aroused with one of our most recent titles, Wild in the City. This title focuses on wild life living in urban areas all over the globe, from the parrots of Sydney to the foxes of London.
Last but certainly not least, when it comes to our geography books, Unfolding Journeys is a series of books that fold out to create a frieze, packed with information on a geographical feature that covers a lot of ground, both physically and historically. From the Amazon to the Rockies and the Nile to the Great Wall, these books are a joy for kids to get lost in as they learn about how humans have adapted to their environments over time.
When we travel we learn so much about a destination’s past, especially when we visit some of the great landmarks of the world. Ancient Wonders Then & Now brings 11 historical sites, such as Easter Island, the Roman Baths and Cleopatra’s Baths, to life. Each site has a double-page fold-out spread which, as you might have guessed from the title, allows children to learn all about how it once looked and the work that went into creating it, as well as what it looks like now.
And if you are looking for more hands-on learning, our Build Your Own History Museum and Build Your Own Dinosaur Museum use some incredible paper engineering to help bring a museum to your kitchen classroom.
As all our books aim to ignite children’s curiosity about the world, science gets covered with the brilliant Big Earth Book - a book which tells the story of how the world was created and works today using the four elements: earth, fire, air and water. It is a really fun and engaging way to learn about the basics of science and a great go-to for simple explanations to any tricky questions you might get.
We’ve already mentioned the How Cities Work book but its sisters How Animals Build and How Trains Work also deserve a mention here. Small and big people with a love of trains universally sing the praises of the latter, and the former explores animal homes up high, underground, on land and in the sea and the genius involved in building them.
Art & Design
While these subjects may not be natural areas of expertise for people who write about the world, we do have a couple of lovely books to give your ‘pupils’ something to work on. First up is the Brick City series, which helps children recreate landmarks and symbols from London, New York and Paris using those little plastic bricks we all have in our homes. Our Holiday Drawing Book is designed to get children drawing what they see as they take a trip, with lots of technical tips. While you might not be journeying very far at the moment you can still use the ideas in the book and maybe even dig out some old holiday snaps for children to draw inspiration from.
From the same family as the Holiday Drawing Book, the Backyard Explorer has lots of great suggestions for getting children to think differently about what’s immediately around them - perfect for these days when we all need to stay at home or very close to it if we do go out. There’s plenty of space in the book to record what they see and do so you could even turn it into a scrapbook of these unusual times we find ourselves in.
For something completely different, our Wild Things book is a whimsical magical look at what lies in the natural world. It’s perfect for little people with huge imaginations and is packed with creative ideas for exploring the unseen, creating new worlds and generally escaping from reality.
Diversity, Culture & Civics
One of the books we’re proudest to have published is This Is My World, a hardback book which tells the story of 84 different children from across the world. Each child answers questions about what they like, who they live with and how they spend their time. They share photos and insights from their world in an accessible format which encourages children to dip in and out. With kids from backgrounds as diverse as a cattle ranch in Australia, a remote fjord in Greenland and an orphanage in Zambezi, there’s plenty of food for thought about how different our experiences can be and yet how our similarities can unite us.
Most children learn the basics of another language in school and as travellers we all appreciate how important it is to be able to attempt to communicate in the local lingo. If you decide you want to add French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese or English to your timetable then our First Words series is bright, colourful and easy to follow. And it comes with a fantastic audio site where they can hear the words spoken and even boardbooks for really small people.
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