Summer Olympics 2012: Great Children’s Books About London

I am happy to introduce you to Rebecca, another Playful Learning contributor. Rebecca has a lovely blog called, ThirteenRedShoes where she documents the wonderful things that she does and explores with her two sons. I was thrilled when she offered to share her favorite children’s books on London, as a way to build excitement and a deeper geographical and cultural understanding, as we get closer to the Summer Olympic Games.

I love the Olympics. I remember, as a child, them being such an amazing event that we always studied it in immense detail, learning about countries of the world, national anthems, and sports I was not familiar with. I am looking forward to exposing our little ones to the Olympics and especially the amazing city of London.

Here are a few of my favorite children’s books about London, which I plan to leave out as provocations, to spark conversations in the coming weeks…

Playful Learning: Great Books About LondonLondon Pop-Up by Jennie Maizels – This book is amazing. I received it earlier in the year and I wish there was one for all the major (and not so major) cities of the world. The details in the pop-ups are fantastic and it makes the book really come to life. I can guarantee this will be a firm favorite with the little ones.

A Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino – This book is another favorite. It is set out beautifully, just like A Walk in New York, which we also own. The details on each page, about this amazing city, are precious—they are told as a story, which makes it even more attainable for little children.

London: A 3D Keepsake Cityscape by Sarah McMenemy – This book is a part of a series and the boys received it for Christmas. Again another beautifully illustrated and presented book full of all the major and what some would consider important landmarks in London. The husband would have liked to have seen the Lord’s Cricket Ground included!

This is London by Miroslav Sasek – We have had this book for awhile now and we are completely in love with it. I think the old style illustrations and the interesting facts make it so very perfect. This entire series is beautiful and we own many titles from the range. Although some of the information is outdated there is always a page or two in the back with the details relevant to the new publishing date. It is actually very interesting to review when the first edition was published and to compare the changes that have taken place between the new publication. A step further would be to then do some research and compare to the present day changes.

Lonely Planet Not for Parents London by Klay Lamprell – These books are just perfect. While they are a  little too detailed for my little ones, aged 21 months and 4 and a half, we love sharing information from the different pages and looking at photographs. This series would be ideal for older children doing research on major cities of the world. There are Paris, New York, and Rome guides, as well as, a Not for Parents Travel Book in which every country in the world is featured with one page each, no matter how large or small the country is, they get a dedicated page.

Playful Learning: Great Children's Books About London L is for London by Hariet Rowe and O is for Olympics by Ned Elliott and Zack McLaughlin are adorable! They have a little website that links to them for extra information. You can leave comments and they are updating the site all the time with additional information. I think this would be perfect for doing research projects on the Olympics, as both sites are very user friendly for little ones with limited internet skills. You simply click on the letter of the alphabet on the right hand side of the site and it takes you to that letter of the alphabet filled with at least one interesting fact about London or the Olympics.

London for Children by Matteo Pericoli is a lovely book, that would be best suited for slightly older children. It is very clever as it is actually  two hard cover books in one, like a flip book. One book is for the south bank and the other is for the north bank. Very clever indeed. It is filled with beautiful, detailed illustrations of the city, all from the view from the River Thames, and is full of quotes and key historical events. This would be a fantastic travel book to share with children before a trip to London.

ABC London by James Dunn and Kate Slater – I would have to say that this one is my favorites for little children. It is a very simple, yet a very clever and powerful alphabet guide to London. The illustrations alone are amazing. It focuses on what gives London that special vibe, that very clear cultural identity and unique diversity, which makes London, stand apart from so many other large cities. It is also a great conversation piece as on many of the pages the alphabet letter made me question why they would choose Elephant for E, Castle for C and Gherkin got G! It also offers an explanation of key parts of London.

The final little item on our wishlist is the adorable Crumple City Jr. Map by Palomar. We don’t own this map (yet) but I think these would be perfect for exploring London. The little ones would love these almost as much as I would! I spotted them in my lovely local bookstore, which doubles as a coffee shop and boutique cinema (I simply adore local bookstores it is much nicer than browsing online!) The crumple city comes in a  junior version with more colors and graphics, which make them simply precious. I can imagine the fun children could have using these as a play mat and making lovely landmarks out of clay, wire or paper to put on the map. The possibilities are endless. I love that children can interact without the fear of them being ruined by water or rough hands. How adorable would these look on a pin board or in a frame or even as a covering for schoolbooks?

What are some of your favorite Olympic resources?