If you like to travel then chances are you’ll have heard the quote: ‘the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page’. But here at Lonely Planet Kids we know that books themselves can become our worlds and start us on journeys of exploration, both real and imaginary.
To celebrate World Book Day in the UK, we asked a selection of Lonely Planet staff and their kids to share their favourite children’s books. Here are the tomes that have roused their adventurous spirit and inspired them to learn more about the world.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
As a child I became aware of Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli stories through the famous Disney film, The Jungle Book, but later read the original and was captivated. Kipling never visited the green heart of India where his stories are set, but his imaginative descriptions of its steamy layers of leaves, sun-warmed pools and ancient temples overrun by monkeys lured me in. Like the man-cub Mowgli, I felt the call of the wild, and longed to see the book’s cast of animal characters up close.
Years later, I got my chance. At Satpura National Park I was thrilled to catch sight of a centuries-old temple, strewn with vines, that was a dead-ringer for Kipling’s abandoned stone city, Cold Lairs. Nearby, blundering in the undergrowth, were sloth bears just like the ‘jungle bum’ Baloo. The undisputed highlight of the trip came in Tadoba National Park, where I came face-to-face with my very own Shere Khan: a tigress called Maya. It was a moment so dazzlingly dramatic it felt like a scene from the storybook that had drawn me to this place.
Orla Thomas, Features Editor, Lonely Planet Magazine
Secrets of a Sun King by Emma Carroll
I’ve got lots of favourite parts of Secrets of a Sun King. Here are some of them: I like the part where Lil got to ride a camel! Someday I would like to ride a camel, I think it would be scary but amazing.
I really liked the way they travelled in 1922. To get from London to Luxor they took a train then a boat, then a train and finally a boat again. The Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor sounds amazing! It’s very very posh in the story and it is sandstone with a very grand staircase!
Egypt sounds warm, so it’s a place I would like to visit in winter!
All of the treasures in the Valley of the Kings are so cool and I’d love to explore them. Did you know: Howard Carter, Lady Evelyn and Lord Carnarvon entered Tutankhamun’s tomb without permission?
Emma, age 7, daughter of Senior Editor, Claire Naylor
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I fell in love with the idea of discovering a magical, far-flung destination that nobody else knew about when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia. These stories take place in a fantastical setting, where characters encounter mythical creatures and magical ways of living – which is much like experiencing a new destination or culture. The themes of adventure, fantasy, escapism and self-discovery in the series made me long to have my own daring and exciting escapades.
The concept that no time passes elsewhere while you’re in Narnia – and that you may never be able to find your way back again once you return home – is something that still resonates with me when I travel. Characters in these books inspired me with their bravery embarking on adventures, which is something that travellers also need when setting out. Just like the wardrobe, travel can be your real-life portal to another world!
Jessica Ryan, Senior Product Editor
The Snail and The Whale by Julia Donaldson
Young children often get drawn to books because of the way they look (bright colours) or feel (chunky spine that doubles as a percussion instrument). It’s lovely when they also get interested in the content inside, and begin to step into the world the book brings to life.
One of our son Luan’s pivotal books was The Snail and The Whale, partly for Julia Donaldon’s lilting rhymes and Axel Scheffler’s charmingly dramatic artwork, and partly because it helped spark an obsession with sea life. Now four, Luan can tell you the ten largest sharks in the world, knows how an orca pod is structured and demands a fact about a sea creature every night before he goes to bed.
He returns to The Snail and The Whale, and Donaldson’s wise and funny other books, with great enthusiasm, and often settles happily on the sofa to flick through hardback books, calling out occasionally for clarification on where sardines live or what grey whales eat.
James Smart, Destination Editor: Cambodia, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam – written on behalf of Luan Smart, age 4
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
From as early as I can remember, I’ve always been a bookworm. Each book I read growing up introduced new elements of the world I craved to learn about. One of my favourite childhood books, Harold and the Purple Crayon, opened my eyes to a newfound desire to travel and explore. Harold, a spunky and curious little boy, wanted to explore, too, but he was stuck indoors.
Not one to give up, he picked up his magic purple crayon and drew the outside – and brought it inside! With his trusty crayon, he drew all different kinds of scenes, bringing the world to him. As I flipped each page, seeing all the wonderful places and experiences Harold drew, I felt that the world was at my fingertips, too. And some day, I was going to get out in it.
Tanya Parker, Destination Editor for Southeast Asia
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
The Percy Jackson stories by Rick Riordan made me want to go to Greece because the story talks about the Greek myths and how they are set all over the country.
Percy Jackson is a boy who finds out he is the son of Poseidon (making him a demigod) and is sent to Camp Half-Blood where he is taught in the ancient Greek way of fighting. He is sent on various quests to reclaim certain objects or to help his friends.
In the final story of the Percy Jackson series he has to fight Cronos, who is Zeus’ father and an evil Titan. The Gods and the Titans have a massive battle in Greece which makes me want to go there to see what it would be like where they are fighting.
In The Heroes of Olympus Percy goes to the Acropolis in Athens and has to fight the goddess Gaia there. They also go to Ithaka, where the ruin of Odysseus’ palace from The Odyssey is. We are going there this summer and I am looking forward to it.
The author makes Greece sound like a great place to go with lots of interesting places to visit and really brings the Greek myths and legends to life.
Harry Hall, age 9, son of Lonely Planet Kids Social Media Manager, Imogen Hall
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