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Vehicles: Picture 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!

Top 10 Books About Vehicles

McToad Mows Tiny Island book
#1
McToad Mows Tiny Island
Written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato

I wrote this book off when I first read it, but my son immediately took to it. He asked to read it over and over again. I found that with each iteration I actually enjoyed the book more and more (which is untrue of many books). The story follows a cheerful McToad who goes to great lengths to mow Tiny Island each Thursday. To reach the island he must transport his lawnmower by airplane, boat, helicopter, and train which seems like a great deal of effort, but not for McToad who seems to enjoy every minute of the journey.

Every Thursday, as a break from mowing Big Island, McToad and his tractor make their way to Tiny Island, using various modes of transportation and types of machinery to get there and back.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book
#2
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

There are some "classic" books that are classic for a reason, and for me this is one of them. It's wildly popular because it's truly that good. The clever, rhyming text clips along at a great pace and is simultaneously both instructive in its vocabulary and soothing as a going to bed book. The illustrations are phenomenon as well, and simultaneously detailed and beautifully stylized. Even if you don't particularly love construction vehicles, I think you'd still truly enjoy this book.

The #1 New York Times bestseller As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest—so they'll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play! With irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text, this book will have truck lovers of all ages begging for more.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel book
#3
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A modern classic that no child should miss. Since it was first published in 1939, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel has delighted generations of children. Mike and his trusty steam shovel, Mary Anne, dig deep canals for boats to travel through, cut mountain passes for trains, and hollow out cellars for city skyscrapers -- the very symbol of industrial America. But with progress come new machines, and soon the inseparable duo are out of work. Mike believes that Mary Anne can dig as much in a day as one hundred men can dig in a week, and the two have one last chance to prove it and save Mary Anne from the scrap heap. What happens next in the small town of Popperville is a testament to their friendship, and to old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.

Old MacDonald Had a Truck book
#4
Old MacDonald Had a Truck
Written by Steve Goetz and illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Super cute and original take on the classic Old MacDonald, jam packed with awesome trucks and other construction vehicles! Super fun to sing or just read out loud and adorable illustrations. I particularly enjoyed when the E-I-E-I-O transitioned throughout the book to different sounds and actions associated with each new truck (E-I-E-I-mow!) and the big reveal at the end of what Old MacDonald and all his helpers created.

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a...TRUCK?! With a DIG DIG here and a SCOOP SCOOP there, this classic folk song just got revved up! Beloved machines—the excavator, dump truck, bulldozer, and more—will have the vehicle-obsessed of all ages reading and singing along.

The Circus Ship book
#5
The Circus Ship
Written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After courageously swimming to shore when the ship that they are traveling on sinks and the wretched captain does nothing to rescue them, circus animals find a way to become a valued part of a coastal community.

Sheep on a Ship book
#6
Sheep on a Ship
Written by Nancy E Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I love this series! The rhymes are clever and I appreciate the addition of some less common vocabulary ("Sheep collide!"), and of course the illustrations are dynamic and humorous! It's such a quick, fun read-aloud, with tons of details to appreciate

Captain Small goes sailing, fishes from his boat, goes for an unexpected swim, and braves a storm on the way home.

Charlie's Boat book
#7
Charlie's Boat
Written and illustrated by Kit Chase
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato

I love these books by Kit Chase. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are straightforward and simple. A cute story about friends being inclusive and helping each other out.

Best friends really are the best when they use their imaginations to help each other. Charlie, Oliver, and Lulu love to play outside together. One fine day they all go fishing, but Charlie doesn’t have much fun—all he can catch are sticks. Next, they build little boats and have a race, but, once again, things don’t go very well. Charlie’s boat comes in last. Things seem pretty gloomy until Oliver comes up with a plan. They build a special boat they can all play on, together! Kit Chase offers a sweet ode to friendship in this tale of three best friends who can count on each other to always make play time fun.

Where Do Speedboats Sleep at Night? book
#8
Where Do Speedboats Sleep at Night?
Written by Brianna Caplan Sayres and illustrated by Christian Slade
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Illustrations and rhyming text reveal what sailboats, cruise ships, canoes, and other vessels do to get ready for bed after a hard day's work.

Little Pig Saves the Ship book
#9
Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

It's hard to be the littlest, but when Little Pig's siblings all go off to sailing camp and he feels like he's missing out, his oldest brother and his grandpa do a great job of making sure Little Pig gets to be a little involved too. I appreciated the sweet and strong family relationships, the quality time they spend together and the realization Little Pig has that even though he's little, he still has something to contribute. The illustrations are sweet as well!

Little Pig is back in Little Pig Saves the Ship! When the sea-faring pigs go a-sailing! Intrepid Little Pig — still the littlest pig in the family — is too little to go to summer camp with his older brothers and sisters. He is left behind with Grandpa and Poppy. Little Pig and Poppy make and sail a toy ship all week, but on Saturday a gusty wind takes the ship into the current, and Little Pig has to use his newfound knot-tying skills to save the day. A sweetly told intergenerational story about how even the littlest can make a big difference.

The Red Boat book
#10
The Red Boat
Written and illustrated by Hannah Cumming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

This would be a great book to read with a child who is moving to a new house or starting a new school. Its simple story and cute illustrations would help facilitate a discussion about how it's okay to be nervous in a new situation, and it's okay to rely on friends and things that are familiar, but it's also wonderful to get to know new friends. I also love the idea that having an active imagination can be a great tool for dealing with things that make us nervous!

Posy is afraid of her new house and all the unknown that comes with it, but when she and her dog find a red boat in the garden, she imagines all kinds of adventures and gains confidence despite being the new kid.

Table of Contents
Jump to books about Vehicles and...

Books About Vehicles and Boats

The Circus Ship book
#1
The Circus Ship
Written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After courageously swimming to shore when the ship that they are traveling on sinks and the wretched captain does nothing to rescue them, circus animals find a way to become a valued part of a coastal community.

Sheep on a Ship book
#2
Sheep on a Ship
Written by Nancy E Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I love this series! The rhymes are clever and I appreciate the addition of some less common vocabulary ("Sheep collide!"), and of course the illustrations are dynamic and humorous! It's such a quick, fun read-aloud, with tons of details to appreciate

Captain Small goes sailing, fishes from his boat, goes for an unexpected swim, and braves a storm on the way home.

Charlie's Boat book
#3
Charlie's Boat
Written and illustrated by Kit Chase
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato

I love these books by Kit Chase. The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are straightforward and simple. A cute story about friends being inclusive and helping each other out.

Best friends really are the best when they use their imaginations to help each other. Charlie, Oliver, and Lulu love to play outside together. One fine day they all go fishing, but Charlie doesn’t have much fun—all he can catch are sticks. Next, they build little boats and have a race, but, once again, things don’t go very well. Charlie’s boat comes in last. Things seem pretty gloomy until Oliver comes up with a plan. They build a special boat they can all play on, together! Kit Chase offers a sweet ode to friendship in this tale of three best friends who can count on each other to always make play time fun.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Where Do Speedboats Sleep at Night? - Illustrations and rhyming text reveal what sailboats, cruise ships, canoes, and other vessels do to get ready for bed after a hard day's work.

  2. Little Pig Saves the Ship - The Book Snob Mom - It's hard to be the littlest, but when Little Pig's siblings all go off to sailing camp and he feels like he's missing out, his oldest brother and his grandpa do a great job of making sure Little Pig gets to be a little involved too. I appreciated the sweet and strong family relationships, the quality time they spend together and the realization Little Pig has that even though he's little, he still has something to contribute. The illustrations are sweet as well!

  3. The Red Boat - Readerly Mom - This would be a great book to read with a child who is moving to a new house or starting a new school. Its simple story and cute illustrations would help facilitate a discussion about how it's okay to be nervous in a new situation, and it's okay to rely on friends and things that are familiar, but it's also wonderful to get to know new friends. I also love the idea that having an active imagination can be a great tool for dealing with things that make us nervous!

  4. Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers - Harry and the Jaggedy Daggers The first charming instalment of the Bottlenose Bay series from award-winning author/illustrator Jan Fearnley. Harry the harbour mouse is heartbroken when his boat is dashed and smashed on the dangerous, mean old rocks - the terrible Jaggedy Daggers! But just as the sea brings mischief, it brings surprises too . . . A story about being brave. Even if you are very small and have only a teacup and a rusty teaspoon. Jan Fearnley is the best-selling author of Mr Wolf’s Pancakes and Arthur and the Meanies. Her beautifully crafted picture books are terrific for sharing and make for popular bedtime stories.

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Books About Vehicles and Tractor

McToad Mows Tiny Island book
#1
McToad Mows Tiny Island
Written by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato

I wrote this book off when I first read it, but my son immediately took to it. He asked to read it over and over again. I found that with each iteration I actually enjoyed the book more and more (which is untrue of many books). The story follows a cheerful McToad who goes to great lengths to mow Tiny Island each Thursday. To reach the island he must transport his lawnmower by airplane, boat, helicopter, and train which seems like a great deal of effort, but not for McToad who seems to enjoy every minute of the journey.

Every Thursday, as a break from mowing Big Island, McToad and his tractor make their way to Tiny Island, using various modes of transportation and types of machinery to get there and back.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book
#2
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

There are some "classic" books that are classic for a reason, and for me this is one of them. It's wildly popular because it's truly that good. The clever, rhyming text clips along at a great pace and is simultaneously both instructive in its vocabulary and soothing as a going to bed book. The illustrations are phenomenon as well, and simultaneously detailed and beautifully stylized. Even if you don't particularly love construction vehicles, I think you'd still truly enjoy this book.

The #1 New York Times bestseller As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest—so they'll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play! With irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text, this book will have truck lovers of all ages begging for more.

Otis and the Puppy book
#3
Otis and the Puppy
Written and illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Otis and his farm friends love to play hide-and-seek. Otis especially loves to be “It,” finding his friends as they hide. Yet when the newest addition to the farm—a bounding puppy who can’t sit still and has a habit of licking faces—tries to hide, he finds his attention wandering and is soon lost in the forest. Night falls and Otis, knowing his new friend is afraid of the dark, sets out to find him. There’s just one problem: Otis is also afraid of the dark. His friend is alone and in need, though, so Otis takes a deep breath, counts to ten, and sets off on a different game of hide-and-seek. From the critically-acclaimed illustrator of The Little Engine that Could, Of Thee I Sing, and Otis.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Digger, Dozer, Dumper - Each truck and big machine in these enticing rhyming poems is different — and little readers are invited to find a vehicle that’s like them. Sixteen boisterous, rhyming poems — each one highlighting the job and personality of a different vehicle, from a backhoe to an ambulance to a snowplow — invite young children to meet their favorite trucks face-to-face. Cheerful illustrations show each one in action, digging (or dozing, or dumping) away. Engaging visual details like an anxious turtle crossing the street just ahead of a steamroller are sure to keep preschoolers poring over the pages as they consider the question, "Trucks as far as eyes can see. . . . Which truck would you like to be?"

  2. Little Excavator - B is for Bookworm - I liked that this book about the Little Excavator is something little ones can relate to--they may not be old enough to do all of the big jobs, but they can do specific jobs really well and help in ways no one else can. This book goes through the names of some of the construction vehicles, has sounds to accompany it, and shows the process of a specific building project completed at the end.

  3. Tractor Mac Plane Jane's Journey - Plane Jane soars over clouds and mountains in this original Tractor Mac board book.

  4. Construction Site on Christmas Night - VROOM and ZOOM into the holidays with this new Christmas classic from the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty, Construction Site! The trucks are gearing up for Christmas by building a special gift! But, there's a surprise waiting for each of them, too! Presents await for Excavator, Bulldozer, Crane, Dump Truck, and Cement Mixer as each finishes their part of this big, important job and rolls off to a sweet and sleepy goodnight. Playful rhyming text from the bestselling author of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and vibrant illustrations from the acclaimed artist AG Ford make this a perfect gift for construction fans everywhere.

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Books About Vehicles and Cars

Cars Galore book
#1
Cars Galore
Written by Peter Stein and illustrated by Bob Staake
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Black car, green car, nice car, mean car. Near car, far car. Whoa! Bizarre car! Ready to hit the road? Gear up for a nonstop parade of shapes, sizes, sounds, and even smells in a wild array of cars packed with big personalities, awesome features, and eccentric passengers. Driven by Peter Stein’s bouncing verse, Bob Staake’s high-powered artwork merges vibrant color and crisp, dynamic design with humor, warmth, and whimsy. This rousing excursion is sure to thrill all fans of things that go, as well as aficionados of the illustrator’s signature style.

The Three Little Rigs book
#2
The Three Little Rigs
Written and illustrated by David Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"Little rig, little rig, let me come in!" "Not by the chrome on my chinny chin chin." "Then I’ll crash and I’ll bash and I’ll smash your house in." When the three little rigs set out to build their own garages, each one thinks that his is going to be the strongest. But then the big bad wrecking ball comes to call and threatens to smash their new homes to smithereens. The brothers learn that it’s only by bravery and teamwork that they can win the day. A comic sequel to the ugly truckling.

If I Built a Car book
#3
If I Built a Car
Written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Jack describes the kind of car he would build--one with amazing accessories and with the capability of traveling on land, in the air, and on and under the sea.

Honorable Mentions
  1. The Little School Bus - A happy little school bus and Driver Bob wake up early to pick up children, drop them off at school, then head to the garage for some minor repairs.

  2. Gus's Garage - Gus's workshop is chock-full of odds and ends. When his friend Rico comes over with a problem—his scooter seat is way too small for a rhino—Gus finds just the thing to fix it. One by one Gus's friends bring him their vehicles and Gus solves their troubles with ingenious solutions. No job is too difficult for Gus! Soon the workshop is almost empty. Is anything left to solve Gus's own problem at the end of a long day? Gus's Garage is Leo Timmers at his best: effortlessly simple text, intricately detailed illustrations, and vehicles galore.

  3. Animobiles - Some vehicles go VROOM! Some animals say ROAR! Put them both together and find out what's in store Imagine a different kind of hybrid on wheels: animalvehicle! The subway-snake slithers for commuters, the cowcars stop to graze in the field, the bear-bus scoots to the den for hibernation. What could be better than a mash-up of two of the best things: animals and things that go vroom!

  4. Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go - On their way to the beach for a picnic the Pig family encounters almost every kind of transportation vehicle imaginable--and imaginary.

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Books About Vehicles and Farm

Old MacDonald Had a Truck book
#1
Old MacDonald Had a Truck
Written by Steve Goetz and illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

Super cute and original take on the classic Old MacDonald, jam packed with awesome trucks and other construction vehicles! Super fun to sing or just read out loud and adorable illustrations. I particularly enjoyed when the E-I-E-I-O transitioned throughout the book to different sounds and actions associated with each new truck (E-I-E-I-mow!) and the big reveal at the end of what Old MacDonald and all his helpers created.

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O. And on that farm he had a...TRUCK?! With a DIG DIG here and a SCOOP SCOOP there, this classic folk song just got revved up! Beloved machines—the excavator, dump truck, bulldozer, and more—will have the vehicle-obsessed of all ages reading and singing along.

Otis book
#2
Otis
Written and illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

This is a sweet little story with a refreshingly unique premise and characters. Kids will have fun exploring the idea of a tractor as the main character, but the plot goes beyond the character as a premise--not only is Otis a tractor, but he's a tractor who has a story arc! The illustrations have a distinctive style as well. All these components come together to create a book that is original and memorable. It wasn't a total home run for me, but it was cute and something I wouldn't mind reading aloud from time to time.

Meet Otis, everyone’s favorite tractor, created by the bestselling illustrator of Love by Matt de la Pena and The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper New York Times bestselling author/artist Loren Long creates an unforgettable children’s classic. Otis is a special tractor. He loves his farmer and he loves to work. And he loves the little calf in the next stall, whom he purrs to sleep with his soft motor. In fact, the two become great friends: they play in the fields, leap hay bales, and play ring-around-the-rosy by Mud Pond. But when Otis is replaced with the big yellow tractor, he is cast away behind the barn, unused, unnoticed . . . until the little calf gets stuck in Mud Pond. Then there is only one tractor—and it’s not big or yellow—who can come to the rescue. It is little old Otis who saves his friend. It is Otis who saves the day. In a wonderful new palette, and in the tradition of classics like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Story of Ferdinand, Loren Long has crafted an unforgettable new story—and character—celebrating the power of friendship and perseverance.

Otis and the Kittens book
#3
Otis and the Kittens
Written and illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

On the farm where Otis the tractor lives, it hasn’t rained in a long time and farmers all over the valley have grown anxious with water in such short supply. One hot afternoon, when Otis and his friends are resting beneath the shade of the apple tree, Otis spots something moving down in the valley—an orange tabby cat headed straight for the old barn. But then Otis sees something else that causes his engine to sputter . . . a swirl of smoke coming from the same barn. A fire! As Otis races toward the fire with his friends in tow, he spots the tabby cat mewing in alarm. Otis rushes inside to discover the source of the cat’s worries–her little kittens are perched up on the hayloft, scared. Otis never hesitates. Yet even after he delivers a tractor full of kittens safely outside, their mama remains upset. Re-entering the burning barn, Otis discovers why: one tiny kitten, still too scared to move. With a friendly chuff, Otis coaxes her down and she scampers out the door. That’s when the floor collapses with a CRASH, trapping the tractor. Now Otis, the friend everyone can count on, must count on his friends. Told with a sense of play and devotion, this is a heartwarming tale that reminds readers that sometimes even those who we count on to help us need a little help themselves. From the creator of Otis, Otis and the Puppy, and the illustrator of The Little Engine That Could and Of Thee I Sing by President Barack Obama.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Tractor Mac: Autumn Is Here - Tractor Mac and his vehicle and animal friends return in a jacketed hardcover about the seasonal changes of autumn. Fergie the calf does not like change, so when his pleasant routine on Stony Meadow Farm begins to change as summer turns to autumn. Fergie is not happy. Luckily his pals on the farm help him acclimate to, and even embrace, the change of seasons.

  2. Otis and the Tornado - Otis and all his farm friends are enjoying a summer’s day, but the bull has no interest in playing and stays in his pen. Suddenly the day turns frightening and stormy: it’s a tornado! Otis takes all of the animals to safety, but the bull is still locked in his pen! Quick as his tires will take him, Otis putt puff puttedy chuffs back to the farm to save the day.

  3. Tractor Mac Harvest Time - When the nights start to get cooler and the corn is ready for picking, it's time for autumn fun at the farm! Tractor Mac loves the fall, but he's just too big for the orchard, where he is stuck harvesting apples that Farmer Bill will make into delicious treats. Across the road, Small Fred the tractor is busy with the Pumpkin Picking Festival, but he's just too small to pull all of the people who want to go on a hayride. Working together, Tractor Mac and Small Fred figure out a way to share their chores and share the fun.

  4. Tractor Mac Family Reunion - Tractor Mac loves that he is the only tractor in his farm family. Then one day, his friend Iron Dave the train brings him to a tractor dealership and shows him a whole lot full of big red tractors that look just like him. Are these tractors his real family? Tractor Mac is excited to find a place with so many familiar faces, but sad that he might have to leave the farm to be with them. Then all of the big red tractors in the lot help him to understand that his real home is with the family he's found with the animals and machines on Stony Meadow Farm.

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Books About Vehicles and Trains

The Caboose Who Got Loose book
#1
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
#2
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!

Locomotive book
#3
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!

Honorable Mentions
  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. How to Train a Train - 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.

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Books About Vehicles and Rhyming

Alphabet Boats book
#1
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.

Alphabet Trains book
#2
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.

Miniracer book
#3
Miniracer
Written by Kristy Dempsey and illustrated by Bridget Strevens-Marzo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Ready, steady, green light, go! Mini Racer won't go slow. Twelve little vehicles are lined up and ready to race. With speed bumps to jump and corners to round, who will take the lead? The winner just might surprise you. This rhyming text is filled with onomatopoeia sure to tickle the funny bones of little readers. Beep, beep! Watch out as they race to turn the pages and follow each animal's themed story. And the chase doesn't end with the last screech; little ones will beg to read it over again to discover all of the details in the art. Mini Racer is a must-have for story time!

Honorable Mentions
  1. Let's Go ABC! - The alphabet comes to zooming, vrooming life with vehicles for every letter, A to Z! A big, boxy bus drives up for letter B, a kayak floats by for letter K, and a rocket blasts off for letter R. A fun and thrilling range of planes, trains, automobiles, and more take readers on a ride through this charming early-learning book. Beloved picture book author Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrator Daniel Kirk join forces for another classic rhyming story for every fan of things that go!

  2. Farmer John's Tractor - When the river floods and a family is trapped in their car, will Farmer John's rusty, trusty tractor save the day?

  3. What Do Wheels Do All Day? - Yeah, what do wheels do all day? Well . . . they push . . . race . . . stroll . . . fly . . . whiz . . . and spin . . . all day long! Simple, direct text, combined with brilliant cut-paper relief illustrations, captures kids’ fascination with “things that go” and opens their minds to the wide variety of wheels and what they do.

Want to see more children's books about rhyming?

Books About Vehicles and Trucks

How to Track a Truck book
#1
How to Track a Truck
Written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by John Rocco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Want a pet truck? Rumble up to this handy guidebook offering everything you need to know. Bone up on habitat: monster trucks like abandoned parking lots; moving trucks live in busy neighborhoods; ice-cream trucks and snowplows migrate in the winter. Pick the right breed for your home (a car transporter in a small apartment would not be a wise choice). Learn to identify your truck by its tire tracks, and soon, with the lure of some orange cones, you’ll have a loyal vehicle following you home, a happy hum under its hood. With an eighteen-wheeler-size nod to pet-care guides, Jason Carter Eaton and John Rocco put young readers in the driver’s seat for a road trip to truck-dreamer bliss.

The Road That Trucks Built book
#2
The Road That Trucks Built
Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Erica Sirotich
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Join the ride as a team of adorable vehicles work together to build a new road in this fresh, cement-mixing spin on the classic nursery rhyme, “The House That Jack Built.” This is the traffic that’s moving too slow. Cars and buses have nowhere to go. What is the answer? I’m guessing you know. The trucks need to build a new road! Bulldozers, scrapers, graders, and more are hard at work making sure that every car, truck, and motorcycle can get where they’re going fast! With smooth writing by Susanna Leonard Hill and heavy-duty illustrations by Erica Sirotich, The Road That Trucks Built shows the importance and effectiveness of teamwork in a picture book that’s perfect for on the road readers.

Demolition book
#3
Demolition
Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Illustrations and rhyming text show the enormous and powerful machines that are used to demolish a building so that a playground can be built.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Pedro's Monster - Despite his father's reassurances, Pedro is frightened by the monsters in his dreams--until he finds a way to use his love of monster trucks to defeat his dream monsters.

  2. Construction - Big machines and their drivers work together to build a library.

  3. Little Blue Truck's Christmas - "Little Blue Truck is spreading cheer by delivering Christmas trees to his animal friends. Can you help count each green tree?"--

  4. Cars and Trucks on the Road - This charming and witty "can-you-find-it" large-format board book follows one purple car from road to road while a succession of other vehicles joins it. Each spread also features a certain number of hidden items for children to find. Will kids be able to find the 10 bluebirds alongside the lone purple car? What about the two black limousines and nine potted plants? It all culminates in the final gatefold spread, which reveals a tremendous traffic jam with every car from the previous spreads! Children will spend hours poring over this book as they search for their favorite vehicles and reoccurring characters on every page. They’ll also find mini-stories within the main story (will the giraffe bike messenger find his lost wallet?), and several hidden items on every page. Numbers and colors are clearly indicated on each spread, and although certainly busy, each spread is carefully designed to provide just the right amount of challenge to young children.

Want to see 16 more children's books about vehicles and trucks?

How about children's books about trucks?

Epilogue

11 books that are just too good to leave off of our vehicles list.

  1. Old MacDonald Had a Boat - Old Mac and Mrs. Mac are at it again! This time, these DIY-happy farmers wield a host of noisy tools—from hammers to sanders, and even a blowtorch—to soup up their rusty old fishing boat. With a BANG BANG here and a BUZZ BUZZ there, this silly, summery sequel to the wildly popular Old MacDonald Had a Truck is sure to make a splash—and have the whole family singing along.

  2. The Antlered Ship - An inquisitive fox named Marco and a bored flock of pigeons join the crew of deer Captain Sylvia, setting sail in her antlered ship in search of a wonderful island and finding friendship on the way.

  3. Three Bears in a Boat - From the co-creator of the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series comes a high seas adventure inspired by the classic picture books Little Bear and Where the Wild Things Are. Three bear siblings break their mother’s favorite blue seashell, and rather than tell her, they decide to set out in their sailboat to find her a new one. On their quest they encounter salty sailors, strange new islands, huge whales, and vast seas but no blue seashells. When a treacherous storm suddenly blows in, the three bears find themselves tossed about in their little boat, far from Mama. What will become of their search, and what will it take to bring them safely home? This read aloud shares its best qualities with classic picture books: breath-taking illustrations, epic adventure, and a subtle message about taking responsibility for your actions.

  4. Vincent Comes Home - Jessixa Bagley, author and illustrator of Laundry Day, Before I Leave, and Boats For Papa (winner of the 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best picture book text) and Aaron Bagley (illustrator of Rocking Fatherhood) have been drawing and writing together since they met in art school more than a decade ago. What started off as a courtship of doodling in sketchbooks and belching in lockers soon turned into a marriage of doodling in sketchbooks and belching with their son. Their artistic partnership is a balanced collaboration of overlapping their individual styles and painting techniques—creating one cohesive language. Vincent Comes Home is their first picture book together. And much like Vincent, they have moved around a lot but their home has always been each other.

  1. Everything Goes: In the Air - Follows Henry and his father through an airport as they see and talk about different forms of air transportation, including airplanes, helicopters, and hot air balloons.

  2. Boats on the Bay - 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.

  3. Everything Goes: On Land - Cars and trucks and bikes and trains! Rvs and construction vehicles too! Everything goes Ride along with Henry and his dad as they visit the big city and check out all the amazing vehicles around them. Full of mini-story lines, endless seek-and-find activities, and hundreds of funny details, Everything Goes: On Land is an interactive book that provides hours of fun!

  4. Everything Goes: By Sea - Everything Goes: By Sea, the third picture book in the Everything Goes series of picture books, board books, and I Can Reads, is a wonderful celebration of sailboats, submarines, and many other interesting sea vehicles. Featuring fun mini–story lines, seek-and-find activities, tons of hilarious details, and cool cutaways, Everything Goes: By Sea is an interactive book that provides hours of fun!

  1. Night Light - Count the nighttime lights on a train, a helicopter, a fire truck, and seven more vehicles in this bold picture book with die-cut surprises. 1 light, shining bright? A train! 7 lights, flashing red and white? A fire truck! And so on all the way to ten lights. Part guessing game, part counting book, NIGHT LIGHT is a boldly imagined book for the preschool child who loves cars, trucks, and anything that goes. With die-cuts on every other page, this rhyming story features vehicles and counting, combining a high interest preschool subject with important preschool concepts.

  2. Ocean Meets Sky - It’s a good day for sailing. Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

  3. Everything I Know About Cars - Stop! What's Your Car I.Q.? The fastest kind of car: A. A jet-powered dragster B. An invisible spy car C. Any car that is red and has flames painted on the sides Cars were invented by: A. Karl Benz B. Professor Flubber C. Two horses in Ohio who got tired of carrying people around all day Souped-up cars are made with what kind of soup? A. Chicken noodle B. Pea C. No actual soup is used Answers inside!

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

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