Vehicles: Chapter Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about vehicles?

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!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book
#1
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Written by J. K. Rowling and illustrated by Mary Grandpre
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the summer after Harry’s first year at Hogwarts has been his worst summer ever… the Dursleys more distant and horrible than ever before. But just as he’s packing his bags to return to school, a creature named Dobby the house-elf announces that if Harry goes back to Hogwarts, disaster will strike. And it turns out, Dobby is right. Harry and Ron miss the Hogwarts Express, so they fly to school in a blue Ford Anglia, crash landing in the notorious Whomping Willow. Soon other worries accumulate: the outrageously stuck-up new professor Gilderoy Lockhart; a ghost named Moaning Myrtle, who haunts the girls’ bathroom; the strange behavior of Ron’s little sister, Ginny Weasley; rumors about the “Chamber of Secrets,” a cavern buried deep below Hogwarts; and a magical diary owned by Tom Riddle, a Hogwarts student of long ago. Harry is also shocked to discover that he can speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes - a rare ability that Lord Voldemort also possessed - and that anti-Muggle prejudice exists in the Wizarding world, even affecting Harry’s friend Hermione. But all of these seem like minor concerns when someone starts turning Hogwarts students to stone: an evildoer said to be the fearsome Heir of Salazar Slytherin, on of the founders of the school. Could it be Draco Malfoy, Harry’s most poisonous rival? Could it be Hagrid whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one person everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?

The Star Thief book
#2
The Star Thief
Written by Lindsey Becker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The constellations come to life in this imaginative fantasy adventure debut. Honorine’s life as a maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia’s study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night…. Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?

Hatchet book
#3
Hatchet
Written by Gary Paulsen
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Headed for Canada to visit his father for the first time since his parents’ divorce, thirteen-year-old Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash, with only the clothes he has on and a hatchet to help him live in the wilderness. A Newbery Honor Book. Reprint.

A Long Walk to Water book
#4
A Long Walk to Water
Written and illustrated by Linda Sue Park
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

The Truth about Bats book
#5
The Truth about Bats
Written by Eva Moore and illustrated by Ted Enik
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Ms. Frizzle takes her students all over the country looking for bats, and in the process the students learn all about these flying mammals.

  1. The Boxcar Children - 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.

  2. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Two children persuade their inventor father to purchase and restore an old car which turns out to have magical powers.

  3. Classic Goosebumps #30: The Haunted Car - “Originally published as Goosebumps Series 2000 #21: The haunted car”—Title page verso.

  4. The Great Airport Mystery - Valuable electronic parts containing platinum are being stolen from shipments made by Stanwide Mining Equipment’s cargo planes, and Frank and Joe are called upon to assist their world-renowned detective father solve the baffling case. While posing as Stanwide employees, the boys look into the truth behind the chief pilot’s death at sea. The puzzling trail of clues leads the young sleuths to an uninhabited Caribbean island, but the final, and most startling, discovery is made in the boys’ home town of Bayport.

Mayday book
#10
Mayday
Written by Karen Harrington
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the tradition of Counting By 7s and The Thing About Jellyfish, a heartwarming coming-of-age story about grief, family, friendship, and the importance of finding your voice Wayne Kovok lives in a world of After. After his uncle in the army was killed overseas. After Wayne and his mother survived a plane crash while coming back from the funeral. After he lost his voice. Wayne has always used his love of facts to communicate (“Did you know more people die each year from shaking a vending machine than from shark attacks?”). Without his voice, how will he wow the prettiest girl in school? How will he stand up to his drill-sergeant grandfather? And how will he share his hopes with his deadbeat dad? It’s not until Wayne loses his voice completely that he realizes how much he doesn’t say. Filled with Karen Harrington’s signature heart and humor, Mayday tackles an unforgettable journey of family and friendship.

Oliver and the Seawigs book
#11
Oliver and the Seawigs
Written by Phillip Reave and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre and Phillip Reave
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Get ready for moving islands! Mischievous monkeys! And a splashy adventure with illustrations on almost every page.

When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail to find them with some new friends. There’s a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are more exciting and strange than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?

For early chapter book readers who are ready for something longer, the Not-So-Impossible Tales are packed with silly humor, action, and larger-than-life fun.

Captain Awesome Takes Flight book
#12
Captain Awesome Takes Flight
Written by Stan Kirby and illustrated by George O’Connor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Captain Awesome battles an evil flight attendant who’s trying to stop him from going on vacation in the nineteenth adventure of the Sunnyview Superhero Squad!

When Eugene McGillicudy finds himself at the airport, things seem pretty normal at first—and pretty boring—until Eugene bumps into a flight attendant and has a sudden realization. That flight attendant isn’t just any flight attendant. She’s the evil Fun E. Racer, and she’s here to stop Captain Awesome from going on vacation!

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Captain Awesome chapter books are perfect for beginning readers!

TURBO Racers: Trailblazer book
#13
TURBO Racers: Trailblazer
Written by Austin Aslan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In Turbo Racers: Trailblazer, twelve-year-old Mace Blazer gets the chance to pilot a state-of-the-art vehicle that transforms at the touch of a button from race car to jet plane to single-person sub, in the biggest race in the world. The roar of the crowd, the glow of the spotlight, the thrill of the race—Mace Blazer dreams of going TURBO. TURBOnaunts thrive on the thrum of trimorphers’s rocket engines as the vehicles morph from super-powered race cars to speeding jet aircrafts to torpedo-fast submarines, while they race full-throttle around every bend. And Mace believes he’s got what it takes to join their ranks—he only needs the chance to prove it. So when a reclusive retired racer chooses Mace to try out to be part of the next generation of TURBOnauts, Mace knows that this is his moment to show what he can do. But the path to his big shot means facing down the best and the brightest from around the world. Mace will have to live more fearlessly, hone quicker reflexes, be revolutionary—but will it be enough? Mace quickly realizes that everything he’s ever hoped for comes at a price. He’ll have to decide between what is right and what is easy. Every morph counts in the first book in this exhilarating new adventure series by the acclaimed author of The Islands at the End of the World, Austin Aslan. This is the first title in a high-stakes middle-grade two-book series!

Lifeboat 12 book
#14
Lifeboat 12
Written by Susan Hood
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-13

In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

  1. Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest - The sixth chapter book in the Prince Not-So Charming series features Prince Carlos going on a quest—and disaster is never far away. Prince Carlos Charles Charming tells a lot more jokes than your standard prince is probably supposed to. But he’s been working hard to live up to his princely expectations. That’s good, because the ultimate prince, Gilbert the Gallant, has gone missing! Carlos, his friend Pinky, and his pet dragon Smudge are assigned to go find Gilbert and complete his quest. But how can Carlos do what the oh-so-perfect Gilbert couldn’t? Especially when Smudge sets their boat on fire before they’ve gone very far? And every princely voyage involves a sea monster! Perfect for middle school readers and filled with adorable illustrations, Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest shows how even princes struggle sometimes—but the only way to get through it is one step at a time. An Imprint Book

  2. Violet and the Smugglers - Meet Violet Remy-Robinson, an amateur Sherlock Holmes in the making, in this “Agatha Christie-esque mystery…[that’s] quirky and charming” (The Guardian)—perfect for fans of Chris Riddell and Robin Stevens’s Wells & Wong mysteries.Uncle Johnny has invited Violet and her friends to spend the summer with him on a sailing adventure around Europe and Violet couldn’t be more excited! But when she suspects that the captain of a boat nearby might be up to no good, Violet needs to put her detective skills into action. Could he be the head of an international smuggling ring?Beautifully designed and filled with gorgeous two-color illustrations throughout, everyone is bound to fall in love with Violet and the colorful characters that make up her world.

  3. Crossing on Time - David Macaulay, creator of the international bestseller The Way Things Work, brings his signature curiosity and detailing to the story of the steamship in this meticulously researched and stunningly illustrated book. Prior to the 1800s, ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean relied on the wind in their sails to make their journeys. But invention of steam power ushered in a new era of transportation that would change ocean travel forever: the steamship. Award-winning author-illustrator David Macaulay guides readers through the fascinating history that culminated in the building of the most advanced—and last—of these steamships: the SS United States. This book artfully explores the design and construction of the ship and the life of its designer and engineer, William Francis Gibbs. Framed around the author’s own experience steaming across the Atlantic on the very same SS United States, Crossing on Time is a tour de force of the art of explanation and a touching and surprising childhood story.

  4. The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones - Mabel Jones finds herself aboard the Feroshus Maggot—a ship crewed by the strangest bunch of pirates you’d (never) want to meet. She then has to find pieces of an X-shaped puzzle that in her hands could be her ticket home, but in the hands of Captain Split, they’d give him the power to assemble a pirate militia to take over London!

The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast book
#19
The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast
Written and illustrated by Samantha M. Clark
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A boy washes up on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited beach. Who is he? How did he get there? The boy can’t remember. When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy’s journey is a struggle for survival and a search for the truth—a terrifying truth that once uncovered, will force him to face his greatest fear of all if he is to go home. This gripping adventure will have readers hooked until its jaw-dropping and moving conclusion. Samantha M. Clark’s first novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.

The Voyage to Magical North book
#20
The Voyage to Magical North
Written by Claire Fayers
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past—if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter. When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she’ll find her place in the world. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

Trojan Horse Power book
#21
Trojan Horse Power
Written by Blake Hoena and illustrated by Fernando Cano
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Nobody told Odysseus about the monster truck competition in Troy, but when he tries to join the fun he finds that hero ThunderTrucks are not allowed in—but Odysseus comes up with a clever plan to get past the dump truck cards and enter the contest.

Speed Dash book
#22
Speed Dash
Written by Blake Hoena and illustrated by Fernando Cano
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Atalanta believes herself to be the fastest hero truck in the world, as her record of winning races indicates—and now she must also defeat the MonsterTrucks that challenge her to ever more demanding obstacle courses, but with a little help from the other hero trucks she will prevail.

Freestyle Fun book
#23
Freestyle Fun
Written by Blake Hoena and illustrated by Fernando Cano
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Jason is ready to win the famous golden fenders, but it’s not going to be easy. He has to take on the likes of Perseus and The Hydra in a freestyle event. While he is doing wheelies and donuts, one evil official is trying to make sure Jason gets crushed by his completion. ThunderTrucks combines Greek mythology and monster trucks, using action-packed text in the early chapter book format to keep young readers racing to finish. A glossary, author and illustrator bios, and additional Greek myth information round out these exciting early chapter books.

  1. Sunker's Deep - Action, adventure, and mystery surround the Sunkers, a band of children who live in a submarine, as they try to survive a war in Book Two of the Icebreaker Trilogy . Sharkey is a Sunker - he was born on a fortunate tide, and everyone in the giant submersible Rampart knows it. He’s a hero, a future admiral, beloved by the ancestors. The trouble is his life is based on a lie. He’s been a fake hero for years, but when tragedy strikes, he must become a real one. And he has no idea how to go about it.Meanwhile, on land, Petrel, Fin, and the crew of the Oyster are on a mission to defeat the Devouts and bring lost knowledge back into the world, a mission they have no idea how to carry out. This second installment of the Icebreaker trilogy features action, adventure, and a world that is perhaps not so different from our own.

  2. Icebreaker - Twelve-year-old Petrel is an outcast, living on an ancient icebreaker that has been following the same ocean course for three hundred years. The ship’s crew has forgotten its original purpose and has broken into three warring tribes. Everyone has a tribe except Petrel, whose parents were thrown overboard for alleged crimes. She has survived by living in the dark corners of the ship, and speaking to no one except two large rats, Mister Smoke and Mrs. Slink. When a boy is discovered on a frozen iceberg, the crew is immediately on alert. Petrel hides him on board, hoping he’ll be her friend. What she doesn’t know is that the ship guards a secret, held down deep in its belly, and the boy has been sent to seek and destroy it. Icebreaker by Lian Tanner is a lush fantasy and thrilling adventure story, with an unforgettable friendship at its heart.

  3. The Mystery of Cabin Island - With two mysteries to solve, Frank and Joe must climb aboard their iceboat the Sea Gull to reach Cabin Island, where a belligerent stranger orders them off. Sabotage to the boat, danger to themselves, and a ghostly prowler do not daunt the Hardy boys in their search for Johnny Jefferson and for clues to stolen antique medals. How the teenage investigators outwit a ruthless foe and succeed in solving both mysteries makes for mounting suspense in this brisk-paced adventure.

  4. Fly High, Katie! - Katie is flying to Florida to visit her grandmother, but she has never been on an airplane before.

Sinking the Sultana book
#28
Sinking the Sultana
Written and illustrated by Sally M. Walker
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn’t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River—and it could have been prevented.

The Mystery of the Chinese Junk book
#29
The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
Written and illustrated by Franklin W. Dixon
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Hardys purchase a Chinese junk to use as a ferry service, in order to make some money over the summer. It soon becomes apparent that others are very interested in the ship.

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