Best Road Trip Picture Books for All Ages
They say that the journey is the true adventure, not the destination, but how do you teach your antsy, impatient toddlers this truth? Is there a secret to helping young kids actually enjoy a road trip?
Some seem to believe that having a million magical busy bags and activities is the secret. We have had some success with that.
Some think picking the right tunes can set the tone for your road trip. There is definitely some truth to that.
At the end of the day I think it is a combination of planning and having the right attitude. The attitude piece is something I think you learn over time (unless you are naturally graced with way more patience than I was) but the planning piece is important.
A lot of the preparations for a road trip take place behind the scenes before you hop in the car, but I think it is important to prepare your kids too. The right books can have a magical effect.
Before your next road trip, find some great books about road trips to read with your kids. Read them before you head out and talk about the things you will see while you drive. This helps to pull some of the excitement away from the destination and towards the actual trip itself.
Then bring them along as well. You can re-read them in the car and even make a game of finding the things in the book out the windows as you go.
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To make this list more useful, I have divided it into books for babies and toddlers and books for preschoolers. Many of the books for younger kids will still be enjoyed by preschoolers. For instance, the Steve Light GO series is still one of my 5 year olds' favorite books. Some of the preschool books might also work for your toddler depending on their attention span. Essentially, the ages are just a rough guide but the books are all fabulous. Books that we have read over and over and over again.
What can you see from the backseat? It turns out you can see an alphabet of road signs. From the author of our favorite Airport book comes a wonderful board book for little backseat riders. Genius in its simplicity and gorgeous in its design. Ages 1+
This is one of the best books about transportation for babies and toddlers. It is full of brief text and great sounds. Ages 1+
This fun opposites book offers another perspective on what you can see while you're on a road trip. Our favorite spread is the birds eye view of the road compared to the worm's view. Over bridges, down winding paths, and through mountains children will enjoy this opposites ride. Ages 2+
There is a whole series of these transportation books by Steve Light and they are all delighted, but this is our favorite. They are all full of fabulous bold illustrations and celebrations of noises. Of all the transportation books about sounds we like Steve Light's onomatopoeia the best. Plus, trucks are what our kids most love to watch out the windows when we are on a road trip. Ages 1+
Follow the line on each page as the car journeys from city to country. The continuous line illustrations that are Ljungkvist's trademark grace each page. Each page also has more questions and comments to get kids counting, searching, and thinking. This is such a fun concept and executed with bright, bold illustrations. Ages 3+
This book follows a family as they drive in their car. Lots of great positional vocabulary and plenty of diverse transportation types. Ages 2+
It's pretty safe to bet that anything by Ljungkvist is going to be creative, interactive and wonderful. I couldn't resist adding another of her books here beause this one is so much fun. It is a Look and Find type book where you are given a few things to search carefully for on each page. My kids are huge fans of books like this and as a bonus, this road trip themed one keeps them occupied for a while.
Semi trucks are a constant on freeways so if you are doing a long trip this is a fun one to share. I like that it brings some background and personality to the life of the men and women that drive these huge trucks. Truck Stop is a simple story about a little boy watching all the trucks roll in for a breakfast stop.
Everyone gets bored in the car sometimes, but could your trip really take so long that you would start going backwards in time? In this is a creative take on road trip boredom from the inventive Caldecott Medalist a little boy and his family start going backwards to the age of princesses and dinosaurs. I love the inspiring use of imagination and my kids just think it's hilarious.
This is a wonderfully simple story about a dad and son going for a drive. I wrote a paper about John Coy when I was working on my Master's and have become a little obsessed with his talent for describing the warm relationships between fathers and their kids. This was his first and it's one of my favorites. Ages 4+
We happen to love road trips and yes, most of the time my kids even think they are fun. Here are some more posts you can read about how we survive (and enjoy) hours in the car.
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