Despite his extensive list of personal achievements—world traveler, Atlas Obscura co-founder, and co-author of a New York Times bestseller—Dylan Thuras’ biggest worry at the moment is the 60-plus school visits scheduled on his next book tour. “That’ll be a new exciting, and slightly terrifying, challenge,” he laughs. “A group of 10- to 12-year-olds is a very honest audience.”
It’s hard to imagine that they won’t be captivated by what The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid has to offer: The adventure guide takes its readers to 100 unbelievably true attractions across the world. Geared toward ages 8–12, the Explorer’s Guide is designed to be a springboard for kids to learn more about themselves and the world around them.
When asked what it was that inspired him to create a children’s book, his answer was clear-cut. Straight away, he recounted a memory from a road trip he went on with his parents at age 12. They stopped in Spring Field, Wisconsin, to see the House on the Rock. This “house” takes six hours to walk through, and holds both the world’s largest carousel and most diverse collection of carousel animals. “It seared itself in my memory as a kid,” he says.
This book was created to appeal to this exact type of burgeoning curiosity he experienced. The Explorer’s Guide is the perfect answer to an age-old question for kids and adults alike: What is actually out there in the world? Rather than making the rest of the world seem untouchable, the Explorers Guide strives to ground these expeditions into our everyday world.
Thuras took his own parenting styles into account when working on this book, as father to 3.5-year-old Phineas and 15-month-old Jean. The dedication on the first page of the Explorer’s Guide reads: “To Phineas and Jean, my two little human beans. You are everything beautiful about the world.”
Although they haven’t taken an international trip as a family just yet, they have done a fair bit of domestic traveling. Thuras is quick to not discount these experiences, however—he genuinely believes that there are extraordinary things just outside your door. “It’s less about being out and looking at the far-off land because, first off, everything is someone else’s backyard,” he says. “Travel is just a shortcut for putting yourself in a mindset that inquiries curiosity and that in a lot of ways you can do that, you know, in an hour’s drive from your house.”
As many New Yorkers know, it can be difficult to juggle work and family life. Thuras attributes much of his work-related success to the amazing team that backs him, both in publishing and at Atlas Obscura. “This book would not–could not–exist without Rosemary Mosco and Joy Ang,” he says.
The straightforward language that Mosco achieved in the book makes the Explorer’s Guide a universal read. “For young parents, including myself, it’s really nice to have material that you can look at with your kids and that you also find interesting and have real discussions about, and ask questions about,” he says. Although his own kids are still a bit young to fully enjoy the book, Thuras still sees how they can enjoy it together even at this age.
It’s no easy feat to fit the extraordinary world into just one book, but Thuras manages to do so in a way that’s engaging, exciting, and thought-provoking. “We could only touch on 47 countries, 100 places; that is the tiniest slice of the world. I tried to be really deliberate about covering quite a wide variety geographically and maybe touching those countries that definitely do not otherwise come up a lot in a kid’s experience,” he says. “And I hope it inspires really nice, fun conversation for parents and the kids.”
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