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Trains: Books For Kids

Choo choo! The iconic train is a classic vehicle, so there's no wonder there are so many fabulous books with trains at their center. From old classics like "The Little Engine That Could" and "The Caboose That Got Loose" to new classics like "Steam Train, Dream Train" on to some hidden gems like "Choo-Choo Colors" and "Alphabet Trains"... this list has them all. So "All Aboard!" You're about to be swept away on a host of train adventures.

Top 10 Trains Books

The Little Train book
#1
The Little Train
Written and illustrated by Lois Lenski
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-2

In a new board book edition of the delightful story, Engineer Small at the throttle takes the little train on its run from Tiny Town to the big city.

Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection book
#2
Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection
Written by Rev. W. Awdry and illustrated by John T. Kenney, C. Reginald Dalby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A collection of fourteen previously published stories featuring Thomas, Sir Topham Hat, and their railway friends.

The Secret Subway book
#3
The Secret Subway
Written by Shana Corey and illustrated by Red Nose Studio
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Goodfather

The Secret Subway is both very engaging and enjoyable. It entertains readers while also educating them about this fascinating piece of New York City subway history. The illustrations are unique and wonderfully match this tale of an inventor's ambitious undertaking.

"New York City in the 1860s was a mess- crowded, disgusting, filled with garbage. You see, way back in 1860, there were no subways, just cobblestone streets. That is, until Alfred Ely Beach had the idea for a fan-powered train that would travel underground. On February 26, 1870, after fifty-eight days of drilling and painting and plastering, Beach unveiled his masterpiece-and throngs of visitors took turns swooshing down the track. The Secret Subwaywill wow readers, just as Beach's underground train wowed riders over a century ago."

Steam Train, Dream Train book
#4
Steam Train, Dream Train
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

This book is really everything I needed in a board book. Its rhyming text flows well and is fun to read, and there are never too many words on a single page. It contains loads of things that are interesting to toddlers and easy to talk about, from trains and race cars to animals and toys. All of these elements combine to form a board book that is a great way to fill time while waiting in line, running errands, or keeping a little one quiet.

An unabridged board book version of the bestselling hardcover, perfect for small hands! The dream train pulls into the station, and one by one the train cars are loaded: polar bears pack the reefer car with ice cream, elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises stock the auto rack with race cars, and kangaroos stuff the hopper car with balls (while zebras referee). Dreamy illustrations and gentle rhyming text make this a beloved bedtime favorite for budding train enthusiasts everywhere.

The Caboose Who Got Loose book
#5
The Caboose Who Got Loose
Written and illustrated by Bill Peet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from Grammy

Bill Peet wrote 34 children's books in his career and they are all still in print! The Caboose Who Got Loose is one of our favorites. Written in effortless verse, the story chugs right along, paired beautifully with Peet's signature illustrations. He has a gift for breathing life into animals and familiar objects, in this case, a caboose; the houses and other structures and vehicles also take on human qualities and emotions. The book is a delight to read again and again.

Katy caboose doesn't like her life at the back of the train. Stuck with clouds of billowing smoke from the engine and a bumpy, jolting ride, she longs for some peace and quiet. When her rusty bolts bust loose, Katy finally gets the life she wants in a way she never expected!This Read-Along Book and CD Favorite includes a paperback edition of the book and a compact disc in a newly designed reusable package. Perfect for car trips, classrooms, and bedtime listening, these recordings feature lively sound effects and original music. The CD includes one reading with page-turn signals as well as an uninterrupted reading.

Down by the Station book
#6
Down by the Station
Written and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Did you ever wonder who rides the zoo train early in the morning? Climb aboard and join the mischievous, sleepy, and playful baby animals on their way to the children's zoo. The engineer has to get them there before the first busload of children arrives . . . but these baby animals just want to have fun! This delightful adventure full of mishaps, daring rescues, and a runaway red balloon has a cumulative text and playful animal noises that will have readers singing along-if they're not racing to the zoo to ride the train themselves.

Alphabet Trains book
#7
Alphabet Trains
Written by Samantha R Vamos and illustrated by Ryan O Rourke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Such a great train book! Vamos is incredibly clever and detailed in her train choices, and while I wondered if she was making some of these up, in the back of the picture book edition there is a short explanation of each train she chose... and they're all real trains, so it felt educational as well as very enjoyable. An excellent rhyme scheme is always a plus in my book, and finding the way the letters are used in each illustration is a fun add.

All aboard for a train ride through the alphabet! Whether chug-chug-chugging up a mountainside in an Incline train or zipping at super speed in a Bullet train, trains will get you where you need to be—A to Z! There is a train—some familiar and some unusual—for every letter of the alphabet. Trains are used all over the world for carrying people and cargo from place to place. With a bouncy rhyming text, and clever illustrations full of visual cues, young readers will love learning all about trains.

Choo-Choo Colors book
#8
Choo-Choo Colors
Written by and illustrated by Kate Stone
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

Lift-the-flap books are always a hit, but I love that this one focuses on colors but incorporates a train! You get to open up each train car to see what's inside and learn all of the colors of the rainbow. :)

Every car on this train is carrying special cargo. Can you guess what is in the blue car? There are kittens in the orange car. What other things might ride in the orange car? This book gives kids a fun way to test their color recognition and association.

Locomotive book
#9
Locomotive
Written and illustrated by Brian Floca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-10

All aboard! From the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist) Moonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads. It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

Trains Don't Sleep book
#10
Trains Don't Sleep
Written by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum and illustrated by Deirdre Gill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Puffing, chuffing, never yawning Climbing hills as day is dawning. Trains don't sleep, they CLANG and HOOT Cross bridges and canyons, plow through snow, charge down mountains, and meander across fields filled with sheep. And when it is time to rest and dreams are just ahead, never fear--trains don't sleep so that you can. With the feel of a classic and vivid artwork that captures the power and majesty of trains, this is a fast-paced rhyming ode to the locomotive.

Books About Vehicles & Trains

Steam Train, Dream Train book
#1
Steam Train, Dream Train
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

This book is really everything I needed in a board book. Its rhyming text flows well and is fun to read, and there are never too many words on a single page. It contains loads of things that are interesting to toddlers and easy to talk about, from trains and race cars to animals and toys. All of these elements combine to form a board book that is a great way to fill time while waiting in line, running errands, or keeping a little one quiet.

An unabridged board book version of the bestselling hardcover, perfect for small hands! The dream train pulls into the station, and one by one the train cars are loaded: polar bears pack the reefer car with ice cream, elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises stock the auto rack with race cars, and kangaroos stuff the hopper car with balls (while zebras referee). Dreamy illustrations and gentle rhyming text make this a beloved bedtime favorite for budding train enthusiasts everywhere.

The Caboose Who Got Loose book
#2
The Caboose Who Got Loose
Written and illustrated by Bill Peet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from Grammy

Bill Peet wrote 34 children's books in his career and they are all still in print! The Caboose Who Got Loose is one of our favorites. Written in effortless verse, the story chugs right along, paired beautifully with Peet's signature illustrations. He has a gift for breathing life into animals and familiar objects, in this case, a caboose; the houses and other structures and vehicles also take on human qualities and emotions. The book is a delight to read again and again.

Katy caboose doesn't like her life at the back of the train. Stuck with clouds of billowing smoke from the engine and a bumpy, jolting ride, she longs for some peace and quiet. When her rusty bolts bust loose, Katy finally gets the life she wants in a way she never expected!This Read-Along Book and CD Favorite includes a paperback edition of the book and a compact disc in a newly designed reusable package. Perfect for car trips, classrooms, and bedtime listening, these recordings feature lively sound effects and original music. The CD includes one reading with page-turn signals as well as an uninterrupted reading.

Alphabet Trains book
#3
Alphabet Trains
Written by Samantha R Vamos and illustrated by Ryan O Rourke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Such a great train book! Vamos is incredibly clever and detailed in her train choices, and while I wondered if she was making some of these up, in the back of the picture book edition there is a short explanation of each train she chose... and they're all real trains, so it felt educational as well as very enjoyable. An excellent rhyme scheme is always a plus in my book, and finding the way the letters are used in each illustration is a fun add.

All aboard for a train ride through the alphabet! Whether chug-chug-chugging up a mountainside in an Incline train or zipping at super speed in a Bullet train, trains will get you where you need to be—A to Z! There is a train—some familiar and some unusual—for every letter of the alphabet. Trains are used all over the world for carrying people and cargo from place to place. With a bouncy rhyming text, and clever illustrations full of visual cues, young readers will love learning all about trains.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Locomotive - All aboard! From the creator of the “stunning” (Booklist) Moonshot, a rich and detailed sensory exploration of America’s early railroads. It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. Come hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!

  2. Trains Don't Sleep - Puffing, chuffing, never yawning Climbing hills as day is dawning. Trains don't sleep, they CLANG and HOOT Cross bridges and canyons, plow through snow, charge down mountains, and meander across fields filled with sheep. And when it is time to rest and dreams are just ahead, never fear--trains don't sleep so that you can. With the feel of a classic and vivid artwork that captures the power and majesty of trains, this is a fast-paced rhyming ode to the locomotive.

  3. The Little Engine That Could - B is for Bookworm - I think it's safe to say that almost everyone loves this classic book with a can-do message for littles and adults! I love that the little engine shows perseverance, even when things are hard, and believing in yourself. It's such a great example of having a positive attitude, and that we are in charge of our thoughts and choose what we feel. :)

  4. First Baby Days: On the Move - A stimulating interactive first book to share with your baby. Trains, rockets, cars, and more! First Baby Days: On the Move features striking red, black, and white art meant to stimulate your baby’s vision as they are introduced to vehicles. Each scene can be extended by the pull-tabs included on each spread, making this book even more interactive.

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Bonus Recommendations

  1. Train! - B is for Bookworm - The perfect book for any child that likes trains. :) Little elephant loves his trains but makes new friends who like planes, diggers, and cars. The illustrations are darling and colorful, and there are a lot of fun animals to point out in this book.

  2. Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night? - "Imagines the bedtime rituals of different types of trains"--

  3. Trains Go - "The big steam train goes, CHUGGA chugga chugga CHUGGA chugga chugga CHOO CHOOOOOOO!" The diesel train goes, "zooosh zooosh ZOOOOOOOOSH ding ding ding!" The American goes, "clang clang clang TOOT TOOT!" All aboard! Take a trip on eight noisy trains as they huff, puff, and toot-toot their way through this lively board book! Perfect for the young train enthusiast.

  4. Art Barn (Noah's Park) - Welcome to Noah’s Park! From celebrated author and illustrator Sam Williams comes a brand-new board book series for preschoolers about a group of cute, cuddly critters who meet each day for a new adventure. In this first book, it’s time to paint at the Art Barn! A sweet board book series with irresistible art, this book is perfect for preschoolers looking to see their own first experiences mirrored with these new friends.

  1. Curious George Takes a Train - Down at the train station everyone is busy. No one notices a little monkey--until he tries to help with the schedule board and messes up everyone's rides! Full color.

  2. The Goodnight Train - A child's bedtime ritual follows the imaginary journey of the Goodnight Train's trip to the dreamland station. On board pages.

  3. All Aboard The Discovery Express - Welcome on board the Discovery Express! The year is 1937 and a conundrum is afoot: a professor on the verge of a brilliant discovery has disappeared. Can you help to solve the clues on this time-travelling adventure and track down the missing scientist? On your voyage, you'll travel the world, see some of the most important moments in the history of transportation, meet the most brilliant engineers of all time, and ultimately unveil the design of the world’s first jet engine! ?This interactive lift-flap adventure is sure to spark the imaginations of aspiring scientists and engineers everywhere.

  4. Stanley's Train - It's another busy day for Stanley and friends! All aboard on Stanley's train and tickets ready, please. Stanley's passengers have a beach ball, a toy boat, and an inner tube. Where could Stanley's train be headed? Off we go on another adventure! Choo, choo! With bright illustrations, adorable characters, and a padded-cover format, William Bee’s Stanley series is perfect for readers transitioning from board books to picture books.

  1. Old Penn Station - An illustrated account of the construction, history, and demolition of one of the most famous railroad stations in America-- New York City's Penn Station.

  2. Clackety Track - Queue up for a whistle-stop tour of trains of all kinds, narrated in lively verse and featuring dynamic retro artwork. Rows of grooves, cables, and bars. Graffiti rockin' out the cars. A badge of rust. A proud oil stain. There's nothin' plain about a train. Trains of all shapes and sizes are coming down the track -- bullet train, sleeper train, underground train, zoo train, and more. All aboard! Skila Brown's first-class poems, as varied as the trains themselves, reflect the excitement of train travel, while Jamey Christoph's vintage-style illustrations provide a wealth of authentic detail to pore over.

  3. Adi's Perfect Patterns and Loops - Best friends Adi and Gabi love to play with Adi's toy train. Round and round it goes-choo choo! Watching it loop the track gives the girls an idea. These scientific thinkers use their computer coding knowledge to put the train to work!

  4. Trains - Byron Barton introduces young readers to the excitement of trains in this bold and colorful book. All aboard as the train journeys through a town, past workers repairing a rail and into the station.

  1. Go West! - Hop on board for the journey of a lifetime as you head out west to Los Angeles, stopping in some of North America’s best-loved cities along the way, including New York, Buffalo, Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco. Explore how the railroad shaped the nation’s history and discover some of its most iconic locomotives in this stylishly designed book by Canadian author/illustrator, Pascal Blanchet.

  2. Trains Run! - We’ve already learned that trucks roll, planes fly, and boats float. Now, all aboard for the fourth book in George Ella Lyon’s transportation series, and this time learn all about trains! Train travels down the track— all day gone all night back. Trains run! From steam engines to subways, from the locomotive to the caboose, this story stays right on track, exploring all different kinds of trains and what they do in a day.

  3. The Potty Train - Despite a few bumps, leaks, and spills along the way, the trip overall is a great success as the kids aboard the colorful train take great delight in their potty-training journey to Underpants Station.

  4. Trains - Rhyming text presents the characteristics of various kinds of trains.

  1. You Can! Words of Wisdom From The Little Engine That Could - The classic character that has inspired generations of children to believe in themselves will now inspire readers of every age in this book filled with encouraging words of wisdom. Everybody needs a little downtime for maintenance. There will always be obstacles you don't anticipate. Wake up ready for an adventure. The Little Engine That Could is one of the most popular and enduring children's stories of all time, and for more than eighty-five years, this classic character has encouraged readers to try their hardest to achieve their dreams. This story of determination and inspiration has now been reimagined in a charming, illustrated gift book that will speak to readers no matter what the age and no matter what the challenge. This is the perfect gift for graduation, and for everyone who may need to be reminded, "You Can!"

  2. Trainbots - Trainbots are getting ready to make and deliver toybots for kids to play with, but it looks like the Badbots are sneaking and scheming to sabotage the delivery in this moving, grooving picture book! Trainbots boarding, how rewarding! Trainbots zooming, unassuming... Badbots peeking, sneaking, scheming, hopping, dropping--Badbots teeming! These Trainbots are getting ready to make and deliver toybots for kids to play with! They're drawing, sawing, and building to get the toybots ready to send, but it looks like the Badbots are sneaking and scheming to sabotage the delivery! Luckily, the Trainbots draft and craft and engineer and rockateer to outsmart the misbehaving Badbots. And once the toybots are delivered, the kids become their FRIEND-bots 'til-the-end bots!

  3. Sleep Train - A perfectly pitched bedtime story and counting book for sleepy train lovers, illustrated in dramatic 3D sculptures! A little boy climbs into bed with a book and starts counting the train cars in it, between the engine and caboose. "Ten sleepy cars going clickety-clack," reads the refrain. But as the boy counts cars and gets sleepier and sleepier, his room looks more and more like one of the train cars from his book—the sleeping car, of course! Rhythmically told by the author of the Froggy books, Sleep Train is also stunning to look at. 3D illustrator, Lauren Eldridge, has sculpted an entire train full of intricate details. Part bedtime story, part counting book, part children's fantasy, Sleep Train is a magical ride to dreamland.

  4. Train - Board a commuter train in New York, then follow the journey west to see the stations, the scenery, the different types of trains and all the people who travel and work on the railroad system.

  1. Trainstop - In this wordless picture book, a young girl takes a train and makes a stop at a most unusual place where she has an important task to perform.

  2. All Aboard! - Folding out car by car, this accordion-style book takes readers on a tour of what’s inside a train. Each car has something to find—things that make loud noises, things in different shapes—and along the way, a little child searches for his missing hat. The back of the book is a running landscape dotted with objects for children to find and count. All Aboard! Let’s Ride a Train is a fun, interactive ride from beginning to end.

  3. Night Train, Night Train - Told in rhyming text, a train speeds through the night, revealing the sights and colors along the way to its young and sleepy riders.

  4. The Littlest Train - In this endearing story of a tiny toy train, the creator of the hit series Dinotrux now breathes life into more than a half-dozen trains that climb, haul, chug, zip, and zoom. In a small room, down a short flight of stairs, there lives a little toy train...about to have a BIG adventure! There's an endless world to explore, and awe-inspiring new friends to meet. Mighty Max, Chloe Cogs, Sara Speedster, and Farley Freighter can reach all the best sights, lickety-split. But when the day is done and the sun goes down, will the littlest train find his way home? Calling all train lovers: All aboard!

Did you enjoy our trains book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

Table of Contents
  1. Top 10 Trains Books
  2. + vehicles (13)
  3. Bonus (24)
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