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How Do You Write a Travel Book for Children?

Travel book for children Melanie Lee

Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my pleasure today to welcome Melanie Lee, a Singaporean author and blogger friend who has already been on this blog once before. This blog has spoken about travel experiences, and children’s writing.

Moving that forward, Melanie takes over Daily (w)rite today to talk about writing a travel guide for children.

She was commissioned by her publisher Marshall Cavendish to work on an illustrated travel book on Singapore for children ages 7-12, and Out & About in Singapore was the result.

Take it away, Melanie!

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As someone who has written for travel magazines and children’s books, I thought working on a project like a travel book for children would be a fun combination of previous work experiences. However, it turned out to be quite a different creature altogether!

Here’s what I discovered:

A travel book for kids has to consider how kids travel.

While conceptualizing the book’s content and structure, it immediately became apparent I was tapping upon my parenting experience much more than my magazine and book publishing experiences. I recalled the numerous family travels and playdates over the years and the moments and places which brought on the bored tantrums or spontaneous delight. For example, when I wrote about Singapore Botanic Gardens, I focused on its 200-year-old Tembusu Tree as I recalled how my son and his friends had spent hours climbing it and looking for insects within its crackled bark.

A travel book for kids is mostly about the visuals. The text is there to support it.

Travel is about sightseeing, and I would say that the most wonderful thing about “Out & About in Singapore” are the whimsical color-pencil illustrations of Singaporean artist William Sim. Right from the beginning, I knew that the visuals would have to shine before even getting young readers interested in reading the text. To give William’s artwork prominence, I chose to write the text for the travel guide in brief chunks so that a variety of his beautiful illustrations could be featured within a page or a spread.

A travel book for kids could have some (fun) scaffolding.

In this travel guide, I included craft activities related to aspects of Singaporean culture. This was done so that readers could get a bit of “firsthand” experience in commemorating festivals such as Lunar New Year, Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali (or Diwali). At the same time, I included bite-sized fun facts about Singapore and local folktales so there would be more context given to the featured travel destinations of this book.

A travel book for kids enables armchair travelling.

While “Out & About in Singapore” was originally envisioned as a book that children might bring along as they explored the island, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unexpected uses for this book. I hear from readers and their parents that this travel guide has become a nostalgic memory trigger for places they have visited in the past. At the same time, it has also spurred them to plan visits to places they have not been to yet. This has made me realize, how, to some extent,  travelling is a state of mind. While this book is meant to be non-fiction, it provides some sort of virtual reality to happier, more carefree days of exploration.

Out & About in Singapore is currently sold on Books Depository and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.

Melanie Lee is a writer and lecturer. She is the author of the award-winning picture book series The Adventures of Squirky the Alien. She is also the author of Imaginary Friends: 26 Whimsical Fables for Getting on in a Crazy World. She tweets at @melanderings.

What travel books have you bought for your children? Would you like to travel with your kids to Singapore?

Would you like a copy of Out & About in Singapore? Melanie is giving away a copy of this fab travel book (open internationally) to one of the commenters, so drop by with your questions and comments!


Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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18 Comments

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti and Melanie – this sounds so much fun – and thank you for setting out your ideas … so pleased I can refer back to it as a reference. Take care and stay safe to both of you and your families … Hilary

  • soniadogra says:

    Thanks Damyanti for this piece with Melanie Lee. Some valid points to note there.

  • What a fun-sounding book with multiple hooks to engage kids. That’s brilliant. I’ve been thinking about traveling to Singapore, and for now this may be just the perfect delight to tide me over.

  • Baisali Chatterjee Dutt says:

    I love what Melanie said about travel also being a state of mind — that’s why we go on trips down memory lane, after all.
    And artwork is very important for the visual appeal, especially in children’s books.
    This sounds like a very interesting book and just reading this write-up made me recall out trip to Singapore 7 years ago! Have always wanted to revisit and I hope one day I can.

    • Hi Baisali, I hope you make it back to Singapore one day too! Some of my favourite memories are travel-based, and they have been my “refuge” during these days of being at home all the time!

  • I love the idea of creating crafts to go along with the journey. That could make a fantastic travel book for just about any kind of trip.

  • Pictures in a book are an excellent way to introduce kids to art.

    • Hi Devin, I totally agree with this! I feel that the illustrator, William, made a great choice in using colour pencils which is what most kids use at school in order to be relatable.

  • As a family of nature lovers, I love the idea that the book is focused on sightseeing; especially the tree! We love trees and Botanic Gardens!

  • Traveling is a state of mind – well said. Congratulations on the book, Melanie. Glad so many families are enjoying it.

  • Aisin says:

    As a writer and a parent, I couldn’t have been more excited with this book. I brought my preschool aged child to Singapore last year, she couldn’t get enough of the zoo, the bird park, the theme park, as well as the new and old edifices of Singapore. During this Covid-19 lockdown, yearning to go on a vacation, the first place that she plans (without parental approval, amusingly) to visit is Singapore. As a young reader who has been spending hours devouring her picture books everyday, she will be living her dreams when she travels with this book in her hands. Thanks for this wonderful interview, Damyanti. Keep it up!

  • Jacqui Murray says:

    This sounds delightful. Kids love traveling and seem to do it much more than I did as a youngster. What a great idea.

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