The Best 21 Books to Read With Your Kids About Trains

Updated Apr. 15, 2019

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.

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.

The Secret Subway book
#2
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
#3
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
#4
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
#5
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.

The Little Engine That Could book
#6
The Little Engine That Could
Written by Watty Piper and illustrated by Doris Hauman, George Hauman
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thoughts from 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. :)

A classic story now in a lap-book format has been slightly abridged and features the famous illustrations from the original edition that will keep toddlers cheering on the little blue engine as she continues chugging along.

Choo-Choo Colors book
#7
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.

Trains Don't Sleep book
#8
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.

Train! book
#9
Train!
Written and illustrated by Judi Abbot
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-6
Thoughts from 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.

A train-loving baby elephant is excited to go on a real train, but when the other baby animals want to play with different vehicles, he becomes upset, until he tries some of the other toys for himself.

Trains Go book
#10
Trains Go
Written and illustrated by Steve Light
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

"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.

Art Barn (Noah's Park) book
#11
Art Barn (Noah's Park)
Written and illustrated by Sam Williams
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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.

Curious George Takes a Train book
#12
Curious George Takes a Train
Written by H. A. Rey, Margret Rey and 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.

The Goodnight Train book
#13
The Goodnight Train
Written by June Sobel and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

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

Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night? book
#14
Where Do Steam Trains Sleep at Night?
Written by Brianna Caplan Sayres and illustrated by Christian Slade
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

"Imagines the bedtime rituals of different types of trains"--

First Baby Days: On the Move book
#15
First Baby Days: On the Move
Written by and illustrated by Mojca Dolinar
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

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.

How to Train a Train book
#16
How to Train a Train
Written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I really like How To Track a Truck (part of the same series,) so I was honestly a little disappointed with this one. It's still good, but not nearly as clever or punny as How To Track a Truck and the illustration of a little girl "cornering" a train looks a little bit too much like just standing in front of a train on the tracks for my comfort as a mother.

A whimsical guide to training a "pet train" instructs young enthusiasts about important issues including where trains live, what they like to eat, and how to get them to perform the best train tricks.

Locomotive book
#17
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 book
#18
Trains
Written and illustrated by Byron Barton
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

Freight Train book
#19
Freight Train
Written and illustrated by Donald Crews
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Red caboose at the back, orange tank car, green cattle car, purple box car, black tender and a black steam engine . . . freight train. In simple, powerful words and vibrant illustrations, Donald Crews evokes the rolling wheels of that childhood favorite: a train. This board book features sturdy pages and is just the right size for little hands. This Calecott Honor Book features bright colors and bold shapes. Even a child not lucky enough to have counted freight cars will feel he or she has watched a freight train passing after reading Freight Train. Donald Crews used childhood memories of trains seen during his travels to his grandparents' farm in the American South as the inspiration for this timeless favorite.

Trainbots book
#20
Trainbots
Written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Shane McG
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection book
#21
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.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!