Road Trips: Destination Discovery

The sun is shining, school’s almost out, and summer adventures are calling, making this the perfect time to start planning a road trip! Road trips have the potential to be life changing – there’s something about being on the road with family or friends that is just so exciting and liberating. Taken out of your comfort zone, you are perfectly poised to take advantage of opportunities that you would never normally consider. Because of their life altering possibilities, road trip books are a perfect way to showcase character development. The list below will equip you to start your own reading road trip, where you can meet some interesting characters, see the sights, watch their growth along the way, and they might even inspire you to plan your own adventure.

To find more books about crazy and enlightening road trips, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “road trips,” “automobile travel,” or “travel and transportation.”

Adkins, Jan.
Bertha Takes a Drive: How the Benz Automobile Changed the World. 2017 (Nonfiction Picture Book)
In 1888, Bertha Benz sneaks out of her house with her two sons, avoiding the police, in order to illegally drive about 100 miles in her husband Karl’s invention, the Benz Motorwagen, to Grandma’s house. She wanted to prove that the car could make the trip and was safe, and the detailed, old-fashioned illustrations transport readers back in time. With every roadblock or problem, readers watch as Bertha figures out a way to solve it with common sense and ingenuity, only improving upon the design of the machine, declaring that “it was simply time to take a drive.” Including a timeline of automobile evolution and a diagram of the Benz Motorwagen III as well as an author’s note about Bertha’s story, readers will zoom right through this book.
[S-Collection Q. S.796.70943 Ad53b]

Brody, Jessica.
The Geography of Lost Things. 2018 (YA Novel)
When Ali’s father dies and leaves her his 1968 Firebird convertible, she wants nothing to do with it and the way it reminds her of how he was never there for her. She finds a buyer 300 miles north who is willing to pay enough for the car to save her home, and Ali desperately needs to get there, but there’s one problem – she can’t drive a stick shift. Her ex-boyfriend Nico can, however, and readers will go along for the ride as he persuades Ali that they should instead “trade up” the items they collect along their journey in order to raise enough money. What ensues is a crazy adventure where Ali and Nico talk to strangers about the things they value and why, helping Ali gain some perspective on how she feels about her father.
[S-Collection S. B7856ge]

Flores-Scott, Patrick.
American Road Trip. 2018 (YA Novel)
Teodoro “T” Avila is gearing up for his senior year when his older brother Manny, whom he has always looked up to, returns from a tour in Iraq battling PTSD. To make matters worse, the family is struggling with money, T is putting no effort into his education or future, and things seem to be falling apart. However, when he meets a girl who believes he can do more, he starts thinking that maybe he can turn things around. Then T’s sister Xochitl has an ambitious plan to bring their family back together by tricking her brothers into a road trip, hoping to get T back on track while saving Manny from his past. Delicately dealing with all kinds of problems ranging from mental health, socioeconomic status, education, and more, this road trip is about more than the physical trek, and readers will resonate with T’s internal journey as he works to figure out who he is, what his dreams are, and how important it is to have people to support you.
[S-Collection S. F66318am]

Gemeinhart, Dan.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. 2019 (Middle Grade Novel)
It’s been five years since Coyote’s mom and two sisters died in a car crash, and she and her dad Rodeo have been roaming around the country in an old school bus ever since. She’s had to learn to be tough, but something inside her finally breaks when she learns that a park in her old neighborhood is going to be demolished, the place where she, her mom, and her sisters had buried a memory box years ago. Springing into action, Coyote hatches a plan to get her dad to drive the 3,600 miles back home in only four days without him realizing it. Picking up misfit travelers along the way, readers go along for the ride on a truly remarkable journey where Coyote comes to redefine her ideas of home and family.
[S-Collection S. G2843re]

Hatanaka, Kellen.
Drive: A Look at Roadside Opposites. 2015 (Picture Book)
Colorful illustrations and sparse text showcase a fun look at opposites through the lens of a road trip. All the possibilities are displayed in the pages, such as changes in the weather, differing landscapes, recognizable landmarks, and experiences of being on the road. Momentum builds throughout the book, illuminating the unique dichotomy of the excitement and monotony of a road trip, engaging young readers as they explore both opposites and the road trip journey.
[S-Collection S.428.1 H28d]

Norman, Kim.
This Old Van. 2015 (Picture Book)
A play on the “This Old Man” song, this book will have you singing out loud as you read and tapping your foot to the cheerful cadence. The heartwarming story of grandparents taking a road trip to see their grandson is visible through the colorful and happy illustrations while the song plays out in the text. Showcasing some things you might pass on a road trip, such as construction, nature, other types of vehicles, restaurants, people, etc., readers will love to explore the detailed illustrations while they eagerly await finding out the journey’s destination.
[S-Collection Q. SE. N781t]

Parish, Herman.
Amelia Bedelia Road Trip! (Amelia Bedelia Chapter Books #3). 2013 (Young Readers Chapter Book)
Amelia Bedelia takes everything literally, and this new series tells of her adventures as a child with the classic and hilarious misunderstandings we have grown to know and love. The illustrated chapter books bring her thoughts to life, sharing the timeless comedy with another generation. In this installment, Amelia’s dad tells her they are going to go off to roam for vacation and she gets excited about going to Rome. And then when she is told to pack light, she packs her desk lamp. Little does she know the actual adventures and enlightenment in store for her on their road trip!
[S-Collection S. P2192ar]

Pla, Sally J.
The Someday Birds. 2017 (Middle Grades Novel)
Twelve-year-old Charlie likes things to be predictable and organized. He has his routines, his birds, and his chicken nuggets, and everything is going fine until his father is injured in Afghanistan while working as a war journalist. When he’s moved across the country for better medical treatment, Charlie, his sister, twin brothers, and a mysterious new family friend go on an eventful road trip to meet him there. In order to feel some sense of control and order, Charlie decides to try to find all the birds he and his dad had been hoping to see together, believing that if he can check off all the boxes on the “Someday Birds” list, then maybe his dad will be okay. This coming of age story about a young boy on the autism spectrum trying to hold everything together will warm the hearts of readers as they root for this family to unite on their journey.
[S-Collection S. P6901so]

Teague, Mark.
LaRue Across America: Postcards from the Vacation. 2011 (Picture Book)
When Mrs. Hibbins faints and has to be rushed to the hospital, Mrs. LaRue agrees to watch her two cats and decides to go on a road trip with them and her dog Ike, who do not get along. Told in postcards from Ike to Mrs. Hibbins, the group travels around the country to landmarks such as the Empire State Building, the Great Lakes, and the Grand Canyon while Ike complains about having to miss the cruise he and Mrs. LaRue had planned because of the cats. With fun, full page illustrations and Ike’s laughable lamentations, hilarity ensues in this tale of road trip fiascos.
[S-Collection Q. SE. T221la]

Welch, Jenna Evans.
Love and Luck. 2018 (YA Novel)
While visiting Ireland for her aunt’s destination wedding, Addie tries to forget about the horrible thing she did so that she can finally stop feeling miserable, heartbroken, and lost. However, her brother Ian – who she was once really close to – won’t let her forget, and they have a terrible fight. All seems lost until Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, “Ireland for the Brokenhearted,” in the hotel library, and she latches onto it as a potential solution. Suddenly she, Ian, and his Irish friend Rowan are crammed together in a tiny car on a crazy road trip around Ireland, trying not to get lost while experiencing the breathtakingly beautiful scenery straight out of a fairy tale. Addie finds herself hoping that the guidebook will work its magic and heal her broken heart as well as her damaged relationship with her brother, and readers will wish her luck on her journey.
[S-Collection S. W444l]