You’re never too young to see the world. In fact, kids who travel are more likely to be more open to different cultures, traditions and experiences, giving them a head start in life.
It is with this in mind that Lonely Planet Publications began Lonely Planet Kids, a child-centric imprint that aims to kick-start a love of travelling and open young eyes and minds to the world around them.
This year sees the imprint’s highest volume of releases with more than 20 titles, including such favourites as Dinosaur Atlas, The Animal Book and The Big Earth Book.
“Through Lonely Planet Kids, we hope to share our love of travel, our sense of humour, and our continual fascination with what makes this world a diverse and magnificent place,” says Chris Zeiher of Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd’s Asia-Pacific director of sales and marketing.
“Our ambition is to demystify the world and showcase how cool our planet is. We approach the range with a sense of adventure and fun – our products are created to engage and to encourage exploration. As travel has become more accessible, it made sense for Lonely Planet Kids to become our first new imprint,” he says in an e-mail interview.
“Kids are travelling at a younger age now, and to destinations that I could only dream of visiting when I was a kid! This is a new generation of super-travellers and we need to capture their imaginations and inspire them.”
Since it was introduced in 2011, Lonely Planet Kids has released a wide variety of books, ranging from fun and factual titles such as The Travel Book and The Amazing World Atlas, to activity-based series such as the Maze Mission releases and the Adventures In and Let’s Explore series.
The books have been published in 23 languages so far, including Chinese, Korean and Thai. “We would love to translate our books into Bahasa Malaysia if we could find a Malaysian publishing partner,” says Zeiher.
The imprint’s bestselling title to date has been the Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book, which is already in its second edition. “It’s a fantastic publication and the hallmark title in the Lonely Planet Kids list. In it we showcase every country in the world and highlight the fascinating facts and super sights you can find in each place. Every child should have a copy in their bedroom bookcase,” says Zeiher.
So far there is First Words English, French and Spanish. In 2018, expect First Words Italian, Japanese and Mandarin.
The imprint has a small in-house team that works to ensure the list of products is fun, varied and representative of the Lonely Planet Kids experience. Brainstorming sessions are often conducted across the nine Lonely Planet offices around the world, and artists and illustrators can approach team members with their own ideas.
“We look for diversity in our authors and illustrators to represent the diversity of the world we write about. And we ensure each book is backed up by solid expertise,” says Zeiher.
“So, for example, in our forthcoming Incredible Cabinet Of Wonders, we’ve worked with museums across the world, such as Museum Wayang in Jakarta and the National Museum of Royal Barges in Bangkok. For our forthcoming Dinosaur Atlas, we worked with American paleontologist Dr David Button from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.”
While Lonely Planet Kids focuses on travel and discovery, it also explores a very wide array of other topics. For example, it is now moving into language – as the world becomes smaller, it is important that children become multilingual, says Zeiher.
“Our First Words series is a brilliant entry point into language learning. Each page features an illustrated everyday object that you may see on your travels, with the English word for it, and the translation.”
“In 2018 we will focus specifically on ‘People and Places’ with titles that will look into cultures, how people live, and how places may have changed over the centuries.”
Lonely Planet Kids products are also supported by a blog, various social media platforms, and a series of activities that can be downloaded from its website lonelyplanet.com/kids.
Last month saw the release of the Lonely Planet Kids Dinosaur Atlas, illustrated by James Gilleard. According to Zeiher, the book has gate-folds that open to reveal prehistoric lands where dinosaurs roamed, as well as spreads on the continents where dinosaur bones have been discovered, what that beast was like, and profiles and stories on those who discovered them.
The title he’s most excited about, however, is The Incredible Cabinet Of Wonders. The product started when the Lonely Planet Kids team approached 50 museums from around the world, asking what their weirdest or strangest exhibit was.
“When the team had completed the compilation of items, they found that the artefacts all fell into certain themes. From there, the team members went about creating virtual cabinets for the artefacts to live in,” explains Zeiher.
“The final product is an amazing lift-the-flap book where, as you open little doors in each cabinet, the artefact is revealed while details of the item are revealed on the other side of the window. From creepy toys to mechanical men to strange contraptions, The Incredible Cabinet Of Wonders is a book bursting with the weirdest of surprises!”
Look out kids, mum and dad might monopolise this book.