Get Ready to Fly: Children’s Books to Prepare Kids for Air Travel

The more we talk and prepare our 3-year old for outings, trips, and activities, the more successful these experiences tend to be for our family.  Yes, talking about what’s coming up can mean we are fielded with tons of questions, and the possibility of a little excitement and anticipation.  However, at least at this point it doesn’t seem to be getting in the way or hindering any of the potential fun.

I’ve written about preparing kids and building their background knowledge for specific locales with children’s books, and also think picture books come in handy for general topics–like airplanes!  Over the past few months, especially to get ready for our big flight to Oahu, I’ve compiled a handful of great stories and informational books to help guide little airplane passengers.  The goal is to set-up expectations for behavior as well as get to know the ins and outs of airplanes and airports: All in hopes that a smooth, (mostly) tear free, flight happens for all passengers involved!

Get Ready to Fly: Children's Books to Prepare Kids for Air Travel |

Mo Willems tells the story of Trixie, and her overseas journey to Holland to visit her Grandparents.  Just like in the first two Knuffle Bunny stories, something happens to her beloved lovie along the way.  I love the photography with drawings overlaid depicting the experience of a “real life” airplane experience.  I also think the book spreads the overall message that air travel is fun and can go smoothly (aside from the bunny incident, of course), even with young kids!

Great for kids young and old, this book simply shows several different types of vehicles in flight including jet planes, seaplanes, and helicopters. I love the bright colored illustrations.  The text is also minimal (but not babyish) opening up the door for lots of conversation about what else is happening in each picture–and there’s a lot!

A perfect companion to PlanesAirport gets kids even more prepared for their flight by taking you through the process from traveling to the airport to taking off.  Unfortunately, since it’s a older classic, there isn’t mention of going through airport security, but I find the real need for preparation is in the actual flight, so I still think the book is relevant and valuable.  Just like Barton’s other books, the text is simple (and sparse) leading us to have more conversation.

This rhyming book (with a refrain–“Planes Fly!”) makes me so happy, and I was overjoyed when I stumbled across it at the library a while back.  It captures the excitement of air travel perfectly getting both the adults and kids psyched for a trip.  And in addition to the romance of flying, Lyon still manages to get into some of the nitty-gritty aspects of flight making it a great book for preparation and expectations too. Favorite quote:

World’s mighty big
but there’s just one sky
and it’s yours to travel.

  • On A Plane by Robert M. Hamilton

Super-duper simple informational text with photographs for illustrations, I think this book has it’s place in showing kids a quick snapshot of what it will be like to travel in an airplane.  It covers taxiing, take-off, landing, and includes information about the pilot, and a few other types of planes.  Certainly not a book that I would purchase, but great to check-out from the library to get ready for an upcoming trip.

This book is just plain (or should I say plane?) fun! A silly tale of a flock of sheep that decide to board a bi-plane, and take a crazy ’round-the-world trip.  The story definitely ignites the wanderlust in me, and I think it would get kids curious of the various places (France, Spain, Egypt, Tibet…) mentioned.  Favorite quote:

…This beats eating grass on our boring old hill! The world is our oyster!” he cried out in glee. “Let’s see a few sights!” And they all cried, “Yippee!”

Just available in e-book format (making it easy to take and rereadthe plane too) this adorable new book is written by a fellow family travel blogger, Hilarye Fuller of the blog, “Dotting at the Map“.  She and her husband travel all over the world with their three young daughters, and in searching for a children’s book on “airplane behavior”, she came up empty. To make up for the absence, she decided to write her own! The story starts out by showing, through the awful behavior of the monsters, children what not to do, and ends with lots of positivity, examples of correct behavior, and the huge reward of…traveling to fun and exciting place!

The style of the text is engaging, and although the examples of “what not to do” might seem over the top, it creates a clear message to  kids that this type of thing is just not acceptable.  Bergen (3-years old) really relates to this book, and he wants me to read it him over and over again! Having just traveled to Oahu, he really connected to the ending where the kids are shown playing at the beach.  Thanks to Hilarye for providing us with a review copy!

Have a favorite children’s book to inspire or prepare for airplane travel? Please share & stay tuned for updates!

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