Summer Reads: Adventure Books for the Whole Family!

Summer is often the time when families travel. These books might be good companions on a trip or might help satisfy wanderlust if your family is staying home this summer.


Picture Books:


Journey by Aaron Becker

This beautiful wordless picture book was a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book. It tells the story of a young girl who draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and travels through on a spectacular adventure. The girl carries her red marker with her and creates different modes of transportation along her journey: a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet. (It should remind parents of the classic Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, another great travel book.) Bonus: this is the first in a trilogy, all with gorgeous illustrations.


Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester

If you are a parent who has never heard this question, I want to know your trick. This charming book tells the story of a family on a road trip around Australia. It will be familiar in the family relations (see the title of the book) and also take your family on a trip to a very different continent.


The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

The narrator in this Caldecott Honor book doesn’t travel herself, but the relatives travel to her for a family reunion. My kids thought it was especially funny that the relatives are coming all the way from… Virginia.


Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

Another Caldecott winner! This timeless book tells the story of a family spending the summer on an island in Maine. Like all of McCloskey’s books (One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal), it made me long for a New England summer house when I was growing up.


Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett

Sunny Meerkat lives in the Kalahari desert with his family. He is tired of being with so many other meerkats and decides to travel around the world and visit some of his distant relatives. As he travels, he sends a series of postcards back home to his family. Kids can actually open the postcards and read the letters Sunny sends as they learn about the places he goes and the other animals that he visits.


Travel Guide for Monsters by Lori Degman

Does your family want to take its friendly pet monster with it on vacation? Then this is an essential book for you. Make sure not to let your monster drink from the geysers at Yellowstone or pick up celebrity cars in Hollywood.


The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson

An unlikely pair of friends travel the world together. It’s obvious what the snail gets out of their partnership, but when the whale gets beached, the snail shows that even small creatures can be a big help when he is able to find a way to save his friend.


For tweens:


Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

By the same author as Smile and Drama, this excellent graphic novel tells the true story of a family road trip from San Francisco to Colorado to explore her relationship with her younger sister.


From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

This classic book about two siblings who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is funny and quirky. As a bonus, your family can explore the Met virtually on the website, even if you can’t get away to NYC this summer. There are also some videos on the website about Claudia and Jamie (the two main characters in the book) that show the artwork mentioned in the book.


For older teens:


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

For teens, this is one of the all-time best mysteries and fiction travel books. Hercule Poirot is traveling in luxury on the Orient Express train when a fellow passenger is brutally murdered. A perfect example of the “closed room mystery,” he must solve the crime while the train is stuck in a snowstorm.