Vehicles and Boats: Books For Kids

The great poet Emily Dickinson once wrote that there is “no frigate like a book to take us lands away.” While your budding reader might not yet know that a frigate is a type of ship, she or he might already be fascinated with the vehicles of transportation that surround us in this busy world of movement. Whether your baby’s first noise was imitating the “vroom vroom” of a motorboat or your 9 to 10-year-old (4th or 5th grader) is showing an interest in cars, we have books to fuel those interests, from beginner board books to picture books to chapter books.

This extensive list of the top children’s books about vehicles covers the whole gamut of transportation, be it planes, trains, submarines, cars, trucks, bikes, and more. These books are sure to transport your kids, whatever their desired mode of travel. Browse the full list or use the table of contents to jump to a specific subtopic of vehicle that your reader loves!

Boats on the Bay book
#1
Boats on the Bay
Written by Jeanne Walker Harvey and illustrated by Grady McFerrin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

I was all hearts-for-eyes emoji over this book as soon as I picked it up in the bookstore, and I haven’t stopped loving it. My three-year-old feels the same way. It’s fun to look at and quick to read, making it easy to read over and over again. There’s a lot to discuss in it too—we like to identify specific places, talk about what the various people are doing, and notice opposites. Yes, we definitely love it a little extra because we live in the San Francisco Bay Area and the illustrations prominently feature the bridges, islands, buildings, and horizons we know and love, but children and adults from anywhere will enjoy the beautiful illustrations and descriptions of many different types of boats.

Illustrations and easy to read text portray a variety of vessels, from houseboats to dredgers, through the course of a busy day on the bay.

Alphabet Boats book
#2
Alphabet Boats
Written by Samantha R Vamos and illustrated by Ryan O Rourke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Discover twenty-six types of vessels, from the more common — canoe and motorboat — to the unusual — umiak and Q-boat. Just like in Alphabet Trucks and Alphabet Trains, colorful art includes the letters of the alphabet hidden (and not-so-hidden) in supporting roles in the illustrations.

Boats Go book
#3
Boats Go
Written and illustrated by Steve Light
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

All aboard! Sail away with 8 noisy boats, as they toot, chug, clang, and splash their way across the water! The sturdy pages feature a fireboat, tugboat, cruise ship, paddleboat, speedboat, sailboat, submarine, and gondola, and encourage young readers to chime in with all the noises each makes—ssshhhh cling-clang FLAP FLAP FLAP goes the sailboat! Here’s a joyful addition to this much-praised series.

My First Words book
#4
My First Words
Written by and illustrated by Aino-Maija Metsola
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

See and say your first words! Learn your first words with stylish artwork from Aino-Maija Metsola. With 70 essential words to see and say, plus sturdy pages for little hands to hold, young readers will enjoy naming objects on every spread. My First Words is a perfect introduction for little learners!

Mighty Tug book
#5
Mighty Tug
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by David Mottram
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From early in the morning until time to say, “Good night,” Mighty Tug works in the busy harbor, guiding cargo ships, pulling barges, and helping with rescues.

  1. Little Tug - Little Tug may not be very tall or very fast, but when the big ships in the harbor need help, they know they can count on him to be there with a push, a pull, and a ride to safety. But what happens when Little Tug gets tired? This simple, endearing book with a charming retro feel and an emotional punch is the first book for Roaring Brook Press by the acclaimed author of Polar Bear Night (New York Times Best Illustrated book) and Where’s Walrus?

  2. Tugboat Bill and the River Rescue - Fans of Little Tug and Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo will love this lyrical, heartwarming story by Calista Brill, brought to life by Tad Carpenter’s bright and lively illustrations. Perfect for readers who can’t get enough of things that GO! Bill is a tugboat. Mabel is a barge. Together they go up and down the choppy river. The other ships are big and vain. They tease Bill and Mabel. But when a kitten falls in the water, it’s up to Bill and Mabel to save the day!

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