I’m belatedly declaring March “Children’s Travel Month”, mostly because I had fun writing up last week’s post about books being the best souvenirs for children and wanted to keep going.
My all time favorite travel series for children is the This Is … series by M. Sasek. The books were published between 1959 and 1970, though there has been a reprinting of all or most of them in the last decade or so (including some updated information listed at the end of the books).
The illustrations will draw you in, but the chatty narrative will hook you for life. Reading these books is a bit like looking at trip photos while your friend (but wittier and less rambly than your REAL friends) gives highlights and funny stories about the places you’re looking at.
These would be great souvenirs for adults or children, but they’d also make great trip preparation for older children. The books tend to give little historical snippets or details about the places which are genuinely interesting, and could help engage reluctant history students. They’re also fun because Sasek wasn’t about poking fun at his subjects. When I reread the books on London, Britain, and Texas, one of my favorite bits was: “King Stephen was supposed to have sat in this chair. He reigned over England – rather inefficiently – during the first half of the twelfth century.” Also fun are the self-portrait sketches on the inside of the front and back covers. It usually shows Sasek coming in and leaving with his easel, but the Britain one shows him arriving as a conquering Viking, and ends with him in the stocks.
Eventually I hope to have all of the books about places I’ve been to (or maybe the goal should be go to all of the places that he did a book about? there’s even one to the moon…). I currently have This is London (my favorite so far!), This is Britain (really fun, but there is a LOT crammed in here, so you miss some of the chattier tone from his other books), This is Texas, and This is Paris – in Portuguese (long story).
Age range wise it varies depending on the book. The This is London is recommended for 4 and up, and the This is Britain is recommended for 9 and up, both of those seem about right to me. If you’re thinking about getting a specific destination, I’d make sure to check the age range to make sure your kids will be able to appreciate it.
Here’s a link to the Amazon Author Page for Sasek, where you can see all his available books, and here’s a link to the corresponding Barnes and Noble page.
What are your favorite travel series for children?
*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.
P.S. As I’ve mentioned before, I use some of his books as artwork in my baby’s nursery.