I have my favorite sources for book lists, including the Read-Aloud Revival and What Do We Do All Day, but I have yet to find a list of children's books specifically featuring walkable neighborhoods and kids getting around by walking, biking, and using transit. Besides the fact that walkable neighborhoods are just lovely to look at, I imagine that kids feel empowered by seeing characters getting around independently, without having to depend on an adult to drive them around.
So here is my first attempt at compiling some great children's books that feature walkable neighborhoods and car-free transportation. Most of these are picture books, which reflects my own children's young ages, but I have a few chapter books at the end. Please share your favorites in the comments, as I hope to make this a series!
1. When We Go Walking by Cari Best. A girl and her family walk in all four seasons while she collects things along the way.
2. This is Our House by Hyewon Yum. A girl tells the story of generations of her family living in the same house.
3. I'm My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein. A dog walks himself and throws his own stick, and he soon finds a pet of his own.
4. Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn. A girl walks with her mother to the library every week. Bonus points for highlighting libraries!
5. Wait by Antoinette Portis. A small boy walking with his mother finds many reasons to slow down.
6. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. A girl works on making The Most Magnificent Thing on the sidewalk in front of her house.
7. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. A boy and his grandmother ride the bus across town, while she points out the everyday beauty that is often overlooked. You have to love a no-nonsense Nana who says, "Boy, what do we need a car for?"
8. Metropolitan Cow by Tim Egan. A calf befriends a young pig who lives next door, and the two friends explore their walkable neighborhood together.
9. The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan. Dodsworth discovers a mysterious pink refrigerator, runs a charming secondhand shop, and rides a cargo tricycle.
10. Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone. This is a fun transportation book for toddlers and young kids.
11. Bear about Town by Stella Blackstone. The same bear walks around his town, one errand for each day of the week.
12. Playground Day! by Jennifer Merz. A girl walks to the playground with her wagon full of stuffed animals.
13. My Bike by Byron Barton. A man bikes to work at a surprising place. Like all Byron Barton, this is a fun, simple read for toddlers.
14. Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins. A beautiful day in the life of a city park.
15. Adèle & Simon by Barbara McClintock. Adèle picks up her little brother, Simon, at school, and they enjoy the attractions of Parisian streets while Simon proceeds to lose all of his things. A reminder of how vibrant and appealing city streets can be, and a fun search-and-find for kids so inclined.
16. Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole. A wordless book that follows a cat through his day in a city.
17. The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi. A man in Brooklyn raises bees on his rooftop. This is a lovely peek into both neighborhood life and urban homesteading.
18. The Poppleton series by Cynthia Rylant. I want to live in Poppleton's charming small town! This is a beginning reader book that is mercifully fun to read aloud (not all beginning books are).
19. Half Magic is a classic fantasy novel that features a whole family of children getting around on their adventures by walking and using transit (not surprising, given the time period).
20. This is the first in the Betsy-Tacy series, another older classic. Betsy and Tacy enjoy simple, realistic adventures while exploring their small town.
What are your favorite children's books that feature kids walking, biking, using transit, or just living in beautiful, walkable communities?