Whether it's a novel set in a different country, a nonfiction title about contemporary issues in a specific country, or a beautifully designed travel book, books that have a strong geographical bent are always high on my list. If you're a fellow armchair traveler, you're in luck! Although sites like TripAdvisor and Pinterest are fantastic for gathering travel information, there's still nothing like a trusty guidebook for in-depth information and inspiration, or an informational book for background historical information for a must-see attraction. National Travel and Tourism Week (May 7-13) is a great time to start gathering information for your summer travels, or just enjoy some armchair travel reading:
For years, I've lamented the lack of good children's travel books. Many's the time I've had to give a country profile book (written for homework assignments rather than casual reading) to a parent wanting his/her child to read about a country or state that they will be visiting. Thankfully, Lonely Planet stepped up, and they are way ahead of the curve for publishing fun, attractive, and informational travel books for children. Of course, children are unlikely to be interested in hotel or restaurant reviews, so don't expect those. Instead, readers will be entertained and enlightened by weird, funny, or even freaky trivia about city landmarks and history. Warrenton Youth Services staff ooohs and ahhs over each new City Trails book that comes in, and they don't stay on the new books shelves very long!
Here's something else that took much too long to update: standout picture books about airplane travel! While there are certainly still cute and longstanding books about airplanes still in print, anything published before the creation of TSA in 2001 will be wholly unrecognizable to young travelers. The Airport Book is a must read for young children embarking on an airplane trip: it follows a family though the airport as they check their bags, go through security, and wait at the gate for their plane to ride. Many children's books focus just on the airplane ride and not so much on the airport experience itself (or focus on the mechanics of airplane travel); this is a welcome addition! Families with very young children (2 years or younger) should check out Flight 123.
Planning a road trip? Make sure you pack Backseat A B See (also in board book for the car seat crowd!) for the car! This inventive alphabet book uses road signs (including L for library) to teach the alphabet. This is also a great book for babies, as the illustrations are bright, clear, and use contrasting colors.
If visiting a national park is in your summer plans, don't miss National Parks U.S.A. Major national parks such as the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Shenandoah, and others are profiled.
Following on the heels of the enormously popular Who Was/Is? series is the Where Is? series. Discover the ins and outs of such historical sites as the Colossuem, Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and more!
The hottest ticket in town continues to be for the National Museum of African American History and Culture; if you've managed to get tickets, make sure you have time to read How to Build a Museum , which chronicles the almost 100 year journey to build the museum.
The Living In series is an automatic buy for me; these are ideal for those not ready for longer books about countries. Each title introduces readers to a child living in that particular country, who introduces his/her country's famous sites, as well as information about important historical and cultural tidbits.
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library