8 Picture Books for Train-Loving Toddlers

1-2015-03-13 Before I had a child, I secretly thought I could steer my child's interests. I was convinced my son wouldn't be just into "boy things." However, his obsession with loud noises and things that go started young.

Trains are definitely on the things that go + loud noises list. My dad gave Liam a little battery-powered Thomas train for his first birthday, and he loves him. Rumor has it that Thomas will be at a nearby children's museum this summer, and we can't wait to go!

Here are some of our favorite train books. All are well-loved and have been read dozens of time. There's also a link at the bottom to Liam's favorite train Youtube videos (they're a bit weird, I know).

Steam Train, Dream Train (Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld): This one wins "the most beautiful book about trains" award (yes, it just became a thing). Written by the authors of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, the reader watches as the animals load the train with all sorts of wonderful things (there's even an ice cream car!) and then go to sleep themselves. The rhyme scheme is similar to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, and the illustrations are even more wonderful. Liam loves talking about all the different trucks in the book, as well as the animals.

The Goodnight Train (June Sobel and Laura Huliska-Beith): In a lot of ways, this one reminds me of Steam Train, Dream Train with a bit more whimsy.The Goodnight Train carries sleeping children into dreamland (after baths and teeth-brushing, of course). I love the little bedtime routines along the way (like grabbing the teddy bear) and the quirky illustrations.

The Rain Train (Elena de Roo and Brain Lovelock): A cross between The Goodnight Train and The Polar Express, the Rain Train comes out "when the windows are foggy enough for my name." I love the whimsical illustrations and especially the colorful umbrellas. Liam enjoys the jazzy rhythm and the lightning storm.

I Love Trains (Philemon Sturges and Shari Halpern): This book was a random find at our used bookstore. It's a fairly simple story with clear illustrations and a simple rhyme scheme with short sentences. It focuses mostly on the things trains carry. The little boy loves waiting for his dad who rides the caboose at the end. The outfits at the end make me think that the story takes place in early America. It's not quite as lovely or elaborate as some of the others on this list, but Liam requests it a lot!


Chugga Chugga Choo Choo (Kevin Lewis)I bought the board book version of this for Liam's first Christmas. We read it daily for months and months. The rhythm is fabulous with the constant "chugga chugga chooooo chooooo." I have it memorized, and I love that it takes place in a little boy's room (though you can't tell until the end). Crossing the fish tank "river" is one of my favorite parts.

Two Little Trains (Margaret Wise Brown and Leo and Diane Dillon): This is one of Margaret Wise Brown's lesser known books. It tells the story of two trains--a real one and a toy one--on their way to the West. It has a sweet, unusual rhythm and ends at bedtime, where all good children's books end. The illustrations are done in subdued but lovely colors.

A Train Goes Clickety Clack (Jonathan London and Denis Roche): This picture book focuses on the noises trains make. The illustrations are bright and cheerful, and the noises are a lot of fun. The reader follows a little boy and his family as they ride a train and see many more. There are also airplane and truck versions of this book that are great.

Train Man (Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha): I love this little series of books! They are all about a little boy who wants to be a train man (or fire engine man or digger man). The illustrations are bright and cheerful, and there's a sweet big brother element to each story. In Train Man, the little boy shares his desire to be a conductor and all the plans that will result (including teaching his brother how he, too, can be a train man). The sentences are simple, and the story flows.trains9

My Big Train Book (Roger Priddy): This book has sturdy, board pages with pictures of actual trains. It's great for learning the names of different types of trains, and Liam also loves the page of different colored trains. The focus is on the colorful photographs with names below. The link takes you to the updated version, which I haven't seen. The version we have is great, and I love board books for car trips because I know the pages won't get accidentally (or purposefully) ripped.

Train Videos: For some reason, Liam loves these short promotional videos of Brio trains (here and here). If you have a train-lover in your house, you might want to check them out.

Note about links: These aren't affiliate links, but I do encourage you to look at the format of the book before you purchase as some are board books and some are not.

More of our favorite books: 0-6 months, 6-12 months, and 12+ months.

Post updated 3/20 to add My Big Train Book. 

Do you have any favorite train books?