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Trains And Railroads: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about trains and railroads?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to trains and railroads. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about trains and railroads.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about trains and railroads, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Caboose Mystery to popular sellers like The Invention of Hugo Cabret to some of our favorite hidden gems like Steam Train, Dream Train.

We hope this list of kids books about trains and railroads can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Polar Express
Written & illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

1986 Caldecott Medal Winner

A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . .

Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.

For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes author’s note, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and golden “All Aboard” ornament.

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The Little Engine That Could: 90th Anniversary Edition
Written by Watty Piper & illustrated by Dan Santat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Celebrate the 90th anniversary of The Little Engine That Could with this all-time classic reillustrated by Caldecott Award-winning artist Dan Santat!

The kindness and determination of the Little Blue Engine have inspired millions of children around the world since the story was first published in 1930. Cherished by readers for ninety years, The Little Engine That Could is a classic tale of a little engine that, despite her size, triumphantly pulls a train full of wonderful things to the children waiting on the other side of a mountain.

This anniversary edition features the original text, all-new reimagined artwork and an introduction from Caldecott Medal-winner Dan Santat, and a special letter from Dolly Parton, award-winning singer-songwriter and founder of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

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The Secret Subway
Written by Shana Corey & illustrated by Red Nose Studio
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“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.”

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Steam Train, Dream Train
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker & illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
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.
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

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.

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When Jackie Saved Grand Central
Written by Natasha Wing & illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Before she was an iconic First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy was a born-and-raised New Yorker. She loved everything about her city, from the natural beauty of the parks to the architectural history of the buildings. So when the owners of Grand Central wanted to build a skyscraper on top of the famous train station, Jackie knew they had to be stopped. She helped inspire thousands of people to come together and fight to protect the historic landmark. From letter-writing campaigns all the way to the Supreme Court, this little-known story celebrates winning in the face of immeasurable odds and how one person can make a big difference.

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  • Overground Railroad - **A window into a child’s experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators of Before She Was Harriet and Finding Langston**.** As she climbs aboard the New York bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North– one she can’t begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains. Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own– until finally the train arrives at its last stop, New York’s Penn Station, and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possiblity. James Ransome’s mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen’s journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story “of people who were running from and running to at the same time,” and it’s a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages. A Junior Library Guild Selection Praise for Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome’s Before She Was Harriet**, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Christopher Award** * “Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.”–Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review * “a powerful reminder of how all children carry within them the potential for greatness.”–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • The Caboose Who Got Loose - 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 - 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.

  • All Aboard! Pacific Northwest - Every part of the world can be mapped out for adventure, and brilliant babies love the sophistication of traveling by train. In the latest title of this popular board book series, babies and parents climb aboard to explore the Pacific Northwest and its fun activities, from shopping, to hiking, to skiing, and more! Ride along from Oregon to Washington to British Columbia to discover cities like Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle and sights like Mt. Rainier and Haystack Rock. All aboard for a sensational experience in travel! Haily and Kevin Meyers are the husband and wife team behind the dazzling baby product line, Lucy Darling (lucydarling.com). Haily’s design work can be seen on their unique monthly sticker designs, nursery art prints, baby memory books, and multiple baby products. Their work has been featured in Pregnancy and Newborn magazine, Red Tricycle, Babiekins Magazine, Cool Mom Picks, KIWI magazine, Mollie Makes magazine, Fresh Style magazine, Mom Trends, HGTV Canada, and specialty baby shops worldwide. They live in Arizona.

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The Train of Lost Things
Written by Ammi-Joan Paquette
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A magical story about a boy's love for his dying father and his journey to the mythic Train of Lost Things, where beloved lost objects are rescued and protected until they can be returned. Perfect for fans of The Phantom Tollbooth, The Bridge to Terabithia, and Lost in the Sun.
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Underground: Subway Systems Around the World: Us Edition
Written & illustrated by Uijung Kim
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-9

This is a playful search-and-find, inside/outside book of underground systems around the world. Alternating shortened pages introduce the subways of 12 different cities. On the first page we see the exterior of the train, and are presented with fascinating facts and figures about the transport system. On the following, shortened page, we find the inside of the train and the platform, bustling with activity. On this busy page, young readers are invited to spot key items that are unique to the city in question; a pretzel, an I - NY t-shirt and a Statue of Liberty headband on the New York Subway, for example. Perfect for train-obsessed children, but also for a wider audience, this book teaches young readers about transport and also about cultural signifiers of different cities around the world. Uijung Kim’s busy, colourful illustrations have a manga-like sensibility that feels joyously contemporary. The cities included are: London, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Moscow, Beijing, Mexico City, Paris, Madrid and Berlin.

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The Mighty Steam Engine
Written by Yvonne Ng & illustrated by Richard Smythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Using the rhyming poetic structure of This is the House that Jack Built, author Yvonne Ng takes young readers on a cumulative path through the inner workings of a steam engine, from the big wheels rolling on the tracks all the way to the engineer driving the train.

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Alphabet Trains
Written by Samantha R Vamos & illustrated by Ryan O Rourke
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.
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

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Clackety Track: Poems about Trains
Written by Skila Brown & illustrated by Jamey Christoph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

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  • Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindness - Board the train for a story of art, diversity, and community in a near-wordless tale told through masterful, sumptuously detailed black-and-white illustrations. Train riders are used to stressful delays on the Zero Local line. But when a new passenger shows gratitude to the driver on their daily commute, tensions begin to ease. Eventually the artistic traveler stops riding the Zero Local line, and discord begins to creep back into the train car. Will the regular passengers find a way to restore the sense of camaraderie they once felt? Inspired by a true story, Ethan and Vita Murrow share with us a tender ode to the power of art and its ability to foster friendship and community in the most unlikely of places.

  • 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.

  • All Aboard California - From the creators of BabyLit®: Every area of the world can be mapped out for adventure, and brilliant babies love the sophistication of traveling by train. This new board book series written by the husband and wife team of Haily and Kevin Meyers and illustrated by Haily, celebrates the unique qualities of each city while employing a fun primer element to tell the story. These books will have you and baby seeing the world by train and will turn story time into a globetrotting event. Perfect as a souvenir or as part of a geography collection for brilliant babies, the All Aboard! series will be pulling into your station next!

  • Alphatrain - All aboard the Alphatrain! This adorable two-in-one board book features beautifully illustrated animals for every letter of the alphabet and can be read page-by-page as a lap book or be unfolded into a 42” train! (Perfect for play time or room decor!) In addition to the animals, each whimsically designed train car includes fun objects for each letter: Bear eats a banana, Elephant listens to earphones, and Fox wears a fez (of course). As a bonus, the back of each page lists the words of each hidden object so kids can search for them on the front of the car. A handy clasp keeps everything snuggly shut when reading time is over.

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Trains Don't Sleep
Written by Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum & 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.

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Curious George Takes a Train
Written by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey & illustrated by Martha Weston
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

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The Pullman Porter
Written by Vanita Oelschlager & illustrated by Mike Blanc
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Children and adults under the age of 40 are forgetting about the Pullman Porter. They were very important figures in the history of American. This book will teach children and adults, who the porters were and why they were so important in our history. Porters worked in early train cars, they would look, listen and learn from their predominantly white passengers. They would read the newspapers passengers left behind, listen to conversations and begin to talk to one another. The porter learned how important education was for children and how important it was to take this message home to his children. He eventually landed at the forefront of the civil rights movement.

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The Little Train
Written & 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.

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Written by Brian Selznick
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

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  • Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection - A collection of fourteen previously published stories featuring Thomas, Sir Topham Hat, and their railway friends.

  • 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.

  • Caboose Mystery - A trip in a caboose at the end of a freight train leads to an old clown and a search.

  • 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.

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Lost Property Office
Written & illustrated by Emily Rand
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A little girl and her mother are on the train, going to visit Grandpa. It’s very busy–hold on tight! But when they arrive at their destination and get off the train they realize something is wrong: the little girl’s beloved teddy bear has gone missing! Just when it looks like she’ll never see Teddy again, Grandpa has an idea! And suddenly the little girl is off on a magical journey to rescue her favorite stuffed friend. Have you ever wondered where your lost objects go? With charming and stylish illustrations, this book is perfect for curious minds.

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