Vehicles and Trains: 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!

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 The Book Snob Mom

Gorgeous illustrations, wonderful cadence and lots of excellent train vocabulary to boot. This one is a joy to read again and again, and is simultaneously upbeat and soothing.

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 Boxcar Children book
#2
The Boxcar Children
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.

The Caboose Who Got Loose book
#3
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.

Choo Choo / Chuu chuu book
#4
Choo Choo / Chuu chuu
Written and illustrated by Petr Horacek
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

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!

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  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.

How to Train a Train book
#10
How to Train a Train
Written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Freight Train book
#11
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.

Things That Go book
#12
Things That Go
Written by Matthew Morgan and illustrated by Olivier Tallec
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Slide and See: Things That Go is part of a wonderful new board book series that include surprising scene changes on the cover and each spread. With the use of easy-to-pull page extenders, a picture of a single digger in the city becomes part of a bustling construction team… A picture of a single pane flying in a clear sky becomes a scene in which lots of planes are soaring and loop-the-looping in a fantastic display. Told in gentle rhyme that makes the most of wonderful illustrations by Olivier Latyk, each spread offers wonder and delight; the perfect board book series for small hands and big imaginations!

Trains book
#13
Trains
Written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Passenger and freight trains are useful, and fun to watch.

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