One of the best ways to armchair family travel is by reading books based in different locations. As a family, we love reading books that teach us about different cultures and traditions around the world, especially when we are not traveling. However, whenever we are planning a trip somewhere, we always make a visit to the library to check out a few books about our travel destination. We have found that this helps our son participate more in the initial planning phases with his own thoughts on what he would like to see, as well as providing him a greater look into the destination before we arrive.
Since I do this research anyway, I thought I’d share it all with you to help inspire your little ones to dream about new destinations. Read on for some of our favorite books on Costa Rica.
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The Forest in the Clouds by Sneed B. Collard III & illustrated by Michael Rothman is a wonderful introduction to the animals of the Monteverde cloud forest. Beautifully illustrated images of quetzal, butterflies, and the camouflaged animals of the forest accompany text explaining the intricate ecosystem that exists in the cloud forest.
The Forever Forest
The Forever Forest is a book about the famous Bosque Eterno de los Nino’s (Children’s Eternal Rainforest) that was preserved by fundraising efforts by children worldwide. The book provides a great introduction to the forest filled with howler monkeys, bats, sloths and more. This was my son’s favorite book of all the Costa Rica themed books. An informative read and a must see forest for families visiting Costa Rica.
If I Ran the Rain Forest: All About Tropical Rain Forests
Not quite Costa Rica specific, however, If I Ran the Rainforest is a fun general learning book about the different types of rainforests that exist. The focus of the book tends to be mostly Amazon rain forests, but there is a mention of cloud forests as well as descriptions of the different ecosystems you will see in a rain forest. We are big fans of the Cat in the Hat’s Learning series with topics such as the desert, dinosaurs, the stars and more.
We love Jan Brett’s books and were very excited to happen upon The Umbrella. Set in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the story introduces the animals of the cloud forest via a little tree frog and his umbrella puddle. Various animals of the forest hop in to share his sacred space. A cute story, with beautiful images to provide great visions of what awaits in Costa Rica.
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
The Scholastic Book Red-Eyed Tree Frog gorgeous photographic images provide the backdrop for the cute story of the red-eyed tree frog who sleeps all day and hunts all night. Simple text makes this an easy read for new readers and kids under 7 years old.
Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme
Over in the Jungle is a cute rhyming story with beautiful pictures that propels readers into the tropical rainforest. The images you see are not actually illustrations as such, rather they were created with polymer clay and photographed for the book. Once you realize this, the pictures become even more spectacular! A great book for toddlers and school aged children. The pages have learning to count components, but also is chalk full of information to learn more about organisms, habitats, and the animal kingdom.
Pura Vida Mae!: An Original Story for Children
Pura Vida Mae is a cute book written and illustrated by Buffie Biddle. The story follows Daniel a very laid back iguana. As he goes about his life, he encounters those who do not quite agree with his lifestyle. It’s a cute little book with beautiful hand drawn illustrations. I loved that this book introduced “pura vida” which is said all over Costa Rica, meaning pure life.
Costa Rica ABC’s
Following the trend of ABC books based on country is this beautifully designed Costa Rica ABC’s book. Working in animals like the quetzals, places like the Montverde Cloud Forest Reserve and people, this book provides a great introduction to the fabulous Central American country.
The Parrot Tico Tango
The Parrot Tico Tango is a cute rhyming book that teaches kids about colors, animals and the importance of sharing. Even though it addresses ideas more geared to younger children, school aged kids will also enjoy the rhymes and silliness that ensues as the greedy parrot snatches things from his friends. My son especially enjoys the sing-a-long CD!
Rain, Rain, Rain Forest
Rain, Rain, Rain Forest is a wonderfully fact filled book geared towards a little older school children (2nd to 3rd grade). The book provides tons of information about the various animals of the rain forest, all told in the narrative form pertaining to a sloth making his way down the branches after being asleep for 16 hours.
Flashy Fantastic Rain Forest Frogs
At 32 pages, Flashy Fantastic Rain Forest Frogs is more science book than picture book, but nonetheless fascinating for nature enthusiasts. Author Dorothy Patent discusses all facets of rain forest frogs, their characteristics, reproduction and habitats. You will be an expert on all things frog after reading this book.
Sophia’s Jungle Adventure
Sophia’s Jungle Adventure: A Fun & Educational Kids Yoga Story by Giselle Shardlow is a wonderful read with a different focus than so many other books set in Costa Rica. Sophia’s Jungle Adventure is a story of a young girl from the US who has won a competition with the prize of a trip to Costa Rica. During her visit, she revels in the beauty of the country while also feeling disheartened by deforestation and it’s effects on the animals left behind. As a bonus, kids can practice the yoga poses presented throughout the book.
Fernando’s Gift/ El Regalo de Fernando
Fernando’s Gift / El Regalo de Fernando is a sweet story of a boy Fernando who lives in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Instead of illustrations, the pictures are actual photographs. Some feel a bit posed, but nevertheless it’s a sweet story that kids will relate to. The book provides details of Fernando’s life and how he is working to help prevent deforestation in his homeland. We particularly enjoyed the English and Spanish text side by side as a great way to practice our Spanish skills.
The Scarlet Macaw Scandal (Nancy Drew)
We haven’t started the Nancy Drew chapter books yet as we are still working our way through the Magic Tree House Books, but this is one I’m keeping on our list for down the line. It sounds like a fun book for grade school kids who like a little adventure. In the Scarlet Macaw Scandal, Nancy Drew and her friends head to Costa Rica to volunteer for a week at the Corcovado National Park. While there, they discover a mystery behind the disappearing monkeys and that someone is poaching the endangered scarlet macaws.
Costa Rica Wildlife Guide
Not quite a kids book, or picture book, but this laminated foldout Costa Rica Wildlife pocket guide is a must have for budding naturalists visiting Costa Rica. We have these for many destinations we have visited, but getting this in advance was a great way to start studying up on the animals we could encounter on our visit. It includes most of the insects, small mammals and birds you might see on your visit.
Do you have any other favorite books on Costa Rica you would recommend? Please share them with us in the comments below.
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