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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 and picture 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. 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 The Little Train to popular sellers like Steam Train, Dream Train to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Caboose Who Got Loose.

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! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

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.

Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection
Written by Rev. W. Awdry & illustrated by John T. Kenney and 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 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.

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.

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.”

  • Steam Train, Dream Train - 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.

  • 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

  • When Jackie Saved Grand Central - 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.

  • 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.

The Caboose Who Got Loose
Written & illustrated by Bill Peet
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.

picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

All Aboard! Pacific Northwest
Written by Kevin Meyers and Haily Meyers & illustrated by Haily Meyers
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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.

All Aboard Paris
Written by Kevin Meyers and Haily Meyers & illustrated by Haily Meyers
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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!

Zero Local: Next Stop: Kindness
Written by & illustrated by Vita Murrow and Ethan Murrow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

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.

Alphatrain
Written by Christin Farley and Stephanie Miles & illustrated by David Miles
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

  • The Mighty Steam Engine - 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.

  • Choo Choo / Chuu chuu - What could be more fun than an old-fashioned train ride? Off go the passengers, past the town, into the woods (shhh, shhh), over the bridge (clack, clack), into the tunnel (toot, toot), and back into the sunshine. Where is this train headed? Turn the shaped pages to find out!

  • 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.

  • Christmas Train - All aboard the Christmas Train! This adorable two-in-one board book featuring 18 colorful Christmas characters unfolds into a 56” train bursting with color and holiday fun.

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.

All Aboard California
Written by Kevin Meyers and Haily Meyers & illustrated by Haily Meyers
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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!

Old Penn Station
Written & illustrated by William Low
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

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.

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