Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Trains, Trains, Trains and more Trains

Trains are big business in our house. E pretty much woke up one morning and decided that trains were the center of his universe and there was no going back. I've embraced it for the most part and the result is a bumper selection of train books on his shelf. Here is a round up of four of our favorites (scroll down to see each title):

Trains by Byron Barton
This little board book is the ultimate starter train book and perhaps the very source of E's devotion to the rails.  The drawings are modern, simple and clear and the text is very short and precise.  'On the track' is the opening line and that's all it takes for E to be instantly hooked.  He's been looking at it since he was about 12 months old and still finds it interesting over a year later. Barton highlights a variety of trains doing all the wonderful things that trains do - going in and out of tunnels, stopping at stations, driving at night and ultimately speeding away.

The Little Red Caboose
The is one of my very favorite vintage children's books (first published in 1953). It tells the story of the little red caboose at the back of train who saves the day by keeping the giant steam train from sliding backwards down the mountain. Up until this point the caboose has spent its days unnoticed while the children lavish their attention on all the larger (read more important) cars at the front of the train.  Much like the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the caboose finds itself an instant hero and proves to everyone that it's deserving of their attention despite its size and despite coming last. We spend a lot of time talking about the 'boose' at our house and I still hold out hope that in time we can discuss the moral of the story. 

The Little Engine That Could
This is another classic train book that is a must for your little reader - train lover or not. It again tells the triumphant story of the underdog saving the day. A train full of toys and candy is stranded on the track and trying desperately to reach the anxious children on the other side of the mountain.  Various engines pass by but they're either too important, too busy or too feeble to help.  Finally a little blue engine appears and agrees to give it a try.  She's the most unlikely candidate to pull this big train but by believing in herself and repeating that legendary mantra, 'I think I can, I think I can', she manages the unthinkable and pulls the train safely over the mountain.

Riding the Rails from A to Z
This is a beautiful title from Chronicle Books and I was pleasantly surprised that E choose it. It's an ABC book that uses a combination of bright illustrations and archive photographs to teach the alphabet through train lingo and vocabulary.  A is for all aboard, E is for Engineer, U is for underground and so on. I've found it to be a great book for keeping the train obsession fed and E's interest piqued, while also challenging him to engage with different types of pictures and to learn new words and phrases. It's not a story book but it still manages get him talking and I've learned a few new facts as well.

Please leave me a comment if you have favorite train books to recommend!


  1. The Little Red Caboose reminded me of this article http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/local-man-leads-library-s-little-golden-books-hunt/article_31c163dc-eab8-11e1-a2e9-0019bb2963f4.html - a library trying to collect all the Little Golden Books.

    As to train books, for the youngest of readers/listeners Freight Train by Donald Crews is stylish http://www.amazon.co.uk/Freight-Train-Donald-Crews/dp/1907912045/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346221193&sr=8-1

  2. Thanks for the article - I'm glad to know that the Little Golden Books will be properly archived in their entirety somewhere in the world! Freight Train is now on my 'official' train book list.