We just returned from a delightful, whirlwind trip to London. My 5-year-old son came away particularly impressed with Big Ben and the double-decker buses. I could have stayed all week in the British Museum. In preparation for our trip, we read a number of books about London. Here are a few of our favorites.
A Walk in London – by Salvatore Rubbino
In this beautifully illustrated book, a girl and her mother take a stroll around London. The mother points out important landmarks — Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square — and the duo stops to watch various events along the way, such as the Changing of the Guard and the street entertainers in Covent Garden. There’s a strong narrative flow to their explorations, and each page includes extra information about the site or landmark that can be skipped or read according to the child’s attention span.
This is London – by Miroslav Sasek
This charming book was written in 1959, and while the facts about the city were updated in 2007, it still communicates the classic, traditional feel of the city in the illustrations. The text isn’t too long, but it explores a number of iconic sites around London.
Look Inside London – by Jonathan Melmoth and Peter Allen
Each page of this book has numerous flaps to lift, with hidden pictures and facts underneath each one. The pages explore a number of landmarks around London — from the Tower of London to King’s Cross Station — and the text is informative and engaging. On some pages there are simple stories thrown into the mix — can you find the Queen’s missing dog in Buckingham Palace? — and often lifting the flaps reveal an interesting historical story associated with the site.
Through Time: London – by Richard Platt
This lovely book explores London’s history, from its Neolithic origins and the Roman conquest all the way up to the London Olympic Games in 2012. The illustrations are detailed, and each 2-page spread shows a different era in the city’s history, whether that be a Viking raid, the Norman invasion, or the Industrial Revolution . The text is fairly lengthy for a picture book and it brings up difficult historical events such as the Plague and the Great London Fire, but it was accessible enough for my 5-year-old to stay engaged with it. I appreciated finding a book that was accessible to kids but could still provide some historical background for our visit.