Se7en Journeys to Europe with the Read the World Book Club…

This is Week Three of our Read the World Book Club Series. For the next couple of weeks we are going to be posting a pile of our favourite books from each continent… and you are welcome to join us on our journey. This week we are journeying to Europe, along with The Simple Homeschool Folk and #Giveyourchildtheworld.

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Welcome to Europe


Travels in Europe

When I was really small my parents travelled Europe from end to end. My first memory is of a friend of my parents’ best friend throwing a snowball off the edge of the world, actually is was a hill, but I was only just a year old”ish.” After my early travels it wasn’t until I was married that I again got to travel a lot more, always for work. Just before we had children the father person and I went island hopping in Greece for a month, and then since I studied Italian at university, my lecturer offered us the use of her apartment in Rome. So another couple of weeks in the heart of Italy, from where we could venture all over Italy… fun times, and I can’t think why I haven’t ever blogged about it.


Otherwise we did take our kids to London for a couple of years ago and then spent a few of weeks in Wales. Part of the reason I started our blog was because friends kept asking us how to travel with a collection of kids and lazy me, I didn’t want to tell the story again and again and thought I could just blog it and send them the link…

Se7en + 1 Travels in Europe


Our Favourite Books from Europe

Actual Factual Books

Let’s begin with fact books… certain books need to just be strewn about and absorbed as we float by in our day to day living. Books like Sasek’s wonderful classics have inspired art projects again and again.

Diane Stanley’s biographies are the best. We love them and even though they are a little long to read in once sitting we always do… we just can’t stop ourselves.

A fairly new discovery for us is Salvatore Rubbino’s wonderful city guides… they are delightful and cover absolutely every landmark that you would like to visit and then a few more… delightful in everyway. These books are classics in the making and will be read again and again and again.

Cook Books

After guidebooks, and you can’t beat DK guidebooks, I do leave cookbooks floating on the coffee table for weeks at a time. Never underestimate the power of a cook book to take you to places that you have never been before. It turns out that tastes have a way of bringing back memories like nothing else and flavours make great traveling companions. These are a few of our favourites…

FolkLore and Literature

Hans Christian Anderson really does define childhood fairytales for me and so a good collection is the perfect addition to our library. Aesop’s Fables, like Mother Goose, really needs to be read… they just do. D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths is another such a classic, it must be read… though I battled to read it myself. So I got the audible book and then we all enjoyed it so much better together. Shakespeare we love and my kids can’t get enough, we have endless Shakespeare resources and read these stories, in a variety of formats, again and again and again. Also terribly English, but has to be included would be a good collection of Robin Hood, my kids love Robin Hood and any reading is followed by weeks of wild play.

Read-A-Louds Books

The Once and Future King is the complete collection of Kind Arthur Stories… pure English countryside. We have been listening to this audio book for ages and ages, it was such a good bargain – so many hours of listening and what could be better than Merlin and King Arthur, and long descriptions of English nature study. Then Heidi in the Swiss Alps, what can I say… don’t get an abridged version… you want the whole book and you want to read it out loud, this book is thoroughly good for the soul. My Family and Other Animals is a laugh out loud, really out loud book and is our next book on our pile of books to read as a family… This is a memoir of Gerald Durrel’s childhood on the island of Corfu. A family of eccentrics and a house full of creepy crawlies and pets of every single description.

Picture Books

Nothing says English countryside quite like Beatrix Potter and James Herriot, both of these books we love. Then of course there is Madeline from Paris and The Cow in the Canal from Holland, Ferdinand in Spain. All the Katie Books are fabulous, there is everything to love about them. And finally one of our all time favourites has to be the Red Balloon, that Hood #1 illustrated for us.

Chapter Books

You might know the Bullerby Children as the Children of Noisy Village, I grew up with the Bullerby children and I love them still, happy to read again and again. The Family under the Bridge is a beautifully poignant story on the wintry streets of Paris, one I was read to at school and one I have read to my kids many times too. London Stories is not a classic, but it is a great book… each chapter is a story from another era… and the reader travels through time in the city of London. Red Sails to Capri is another classic, this time set in Italy and obviously Capri… there is magic in this book, we have read it several times and never get tired of it. Sticks Across the Chimney was a lovely surprise… we read it for school, it is set in the Danish countryside and once we got started we couldn’t stop… it is a keeper. The White Stallions of Lipizza, another beautiful book that highlights the tradition of the Spanish Riding School, this book is a delight form start to finish. If you had to ask my kids what their favourite story was ever then Hans Brinker would come up again and again… this story is every bit of loveliness. Emil and the Detectives is set in Berlin. Emil is a young boy who finds himself nodding off to sleep on the train, when he wakes up the money that was pinned in his pocket is gone and so is the man in the bowler hat. Emil and a group of lads become detectives and set out to solve the mystery. The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong, well anything by Meindert DeJong, but this one tells you all about life of a little girl in school… and how she and her classmates set out to find a wheel for the passing storks to nest on… it is a great story, full of determination and ultimately heroism. My kids absolutely love Henry Winterfeld’s mystery series set in roman times… what can I say, fantastic reads. And finally, Theras the story of an Athenian boy, is set in Ancient Greece and highlights the differences between life in Athens and Sparta. I loved this book so much as a child it inspired me to love all things Greek… and was the first country I had to visit as an adult.

A collection of books from Europe wouldn’t be complete without books from the great wars, you can’t beat Michael Morpugo for beautiful war stories, but another author that we absolutely love is Sam Angus. Sam Angus’ books are set throughout Europe… from France to Gallipoli, you will find these tragic and heroic tales… books you will cry through and love all at the same time. There is everything to love about Sam Angus.

Teen Books

When I asked my kids what their favourite books were from Europe a couple of teen reads crept into the mix… here they are. These are all sweet teen reads, with a little love thrown into them, they are definitely not young adult reads and there is nothing untoward in them. The Debutantes are a family of four great down to earth girls living in the English countryside in the 1920s, they realise that the only way to escape their dilapidated mansion and get anywhere in life would be to escape to London to seek their fortune… life and love get in the way of their plotting and planning, this is great reading. And the story goes on in Debutantes in Love, these are really a bunch of fun girls that you wish were in real life and not just on the pages of a book. Hero on a Bicycle, by Shirley Hughes – yes of the wonderful Alfie picture books fame, is set in Italy during World War 2, the background might be the war, but the story is about 13 year old Paolo and his older sister Constanza, who loves a German soldier, while their father has vanished and they suspect he worked for the Resistance… many ins an outs and a beautiful read. The Girl in the Blue Coat is set in Amsterdam in World War 2, the story is told from many perspectives and Hanneke the heroine is on a journey to find missing girl, she gets drawn in to working for the Resistance. This book has a very unexpected ending… it’s a great read.

Previous Posts in this Series

Se7en Are Off on a Book Voyage

Se7en Journeys to Africa with the Read the World Book Club…

Interview on Growing up in South Africa on Simple Homeschool…

Se7en Welcomes the Read the World book Club to Sunny South Africa…

You are welcome to join the club… and if you do post on instagram use the #Giveyourchildtheworld hashtag.


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