Amsterdam guide books for kids

Minnie might not be able to read just yet, but that doesn’t mean she’s not fascinated with guide books already – I still love the old-fashioned paperbacks where possible, and we’re getting a collection of sticker and lift-the-flap books about different countries of the world.

So when we were preparing for Amsterdam, along with my own Lonely Planet guide, I was sent two other books to review, both aimed at children.

Amsterdam guide books for kidsFirst, Kids’ Compass Amsterdam: the ultimate family travel guide and secondly Hotel Kids Only: Amsterdam.

The first is written by a duo who’ve published various kids’ guides before in Dutch. This, their first in England, focuses on Amsterdam where the pair have both previously lived. And after the first chapter on practical information (when to go, how to get there, getting around etc), it’s aimed firmly at a young readership.

Most works as a great introduction to the city for any age – basic Dutch phrases, info on local food and plenty of quirky tips such as red bollards with their three crosses to look out for, plus an overview of the city’s history.

Then it’s broken down into the main areas of the city with things to do, places to eat and the usual type of tourist information, but with a child-friendly twist so you’ll see great toy shops listed as well as more detail on why kids would actually be interested in visiting, such as the details of experiments you can try at Nemo.

kids-compass-amsterdam-guideThere’s no dumbing down either. The Van Gogh museum gets over a page for example.

It’s aimed at children older than Minnie – perhaps seven and up, depending on reading ability, although you could certainly use it to plan a trip with younger children, so a great addition before a family trip.

The downsides: apart from a few minor spelling errors (which the authors, who translated the book themselves, apologise for in advance), I found some of the fun hand-drawn fonts a bit hard to read. Not impossible, and I’m also not the target audience though. Otherwise it’s nicely broken up into easily digestible chunks.

Available via the website or from Amazon although it’s currently out of stock.

Hotel Kids Only: Amsterdam, meanwhile, is more of a cross between an activity book and a guide. As a result, it’s good for slightly younger kids too, with an I Spy of some of Amsterdam’s main sights (from a tram and a bakfiets to specific landmarks) and a ‘spot these things’ in the city’s museums.

hotel-kids-only-amsterdamThere’s also colouring and dot-to-dot plus a few games, although these are better for children a bit older than pre-schoolers. A couple of the suggestions to entertain yourself in the hotel room if bored are unlikely to go down well with parents (set as many alarm clocks as you can? What fun at 3am…) while others are too fiddly to do on the go, as you really need time, space and scissors.

However, the illustrations are lovely and there’s a lot to entertain, along with a few tips on places to see.

Currently 9.99 Euros and due on Amazon shortly, it’s doesn’t cost that much more than a standard travel activity book with the bonus of having everything themed to your destination. And for something to do on the flight/while you’re waiting for your pancakes, this is a great one to pack.


Main image copyright MummyTravels, others courtesy of the publisher