12 Books About Trains

I haven't written a book list in a couple of months—not since posting Trees, seeds, and growing stories, back in May.

So, it's time to do another one, and this time, it's about...trains!

We've read a fair number of train stories, so this list was relatively easy to put together.

Train, by Elisha Cooper

Train, by Elisha Cooper 

We found this book by chance at the library and enjoyed the story and pictures immensely. The book introduces a lot of different trains, but it does so through a sort of traveling story—as each train pulls into the station at the end of its journey, another sets off, from the lowly commuter train to the high-speed train racing into a large city.

Steam Train, Dream Train

Steam Train, Dream Train, by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 

You may have heard of this one—a newer, but very popular classic-in-the-making. The story has a lot of fun action/sound words, along with gorgeous illustrations.

Choo Choo

Choo Choo, by Virginia Wise Burton 

A classic, by the author of Mike Mulligan and Katy and the Big Snow. As an author & illustrator, I personally love this story for its artwork and the clever way the text is worked into many of the pictures. It's also a fun story to read.

Thomas the Tank Engine, by Wilbert Awdry 

A list about train stories? You know I’m going to include Thomas the Tank Engine on it somewhere, right? But, yes, we like this one too. It’s one of the first ‘big’ books that we’ve read, since it’s mostly a set of short stories, and of course—it’s Thomas!

The Little Engine that Could

The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper 

Like the other classics above, I read this one as a kid. As an adult, reading it to my kids, it’s easy to laugh at it—‘milk, apples, bananas, lollipops…all that good food for the kids on the other side of the mountain, and they won’t have anything at all if the toys can’t find someone to help them!’ But, it is a nice story about being helpful and trying your best. (Plus, there is a newer edition now, illustrated by Loren Long, who wrote and illustrated the really awesome Otis stories.)

Mailing May

Mailing May, by Michael O. Tunnel, illustrated by Ted Rand

The true story of a five-year-old whose rides across Idaho to visit her grandmother…in the train’s mail car. When May’s parents can’t afford a train ticket for her, they find an ingenious loophole in train policies that let them send the girl on her trip. We found this book by chance at the library and found it entertaining. It sparked a few questions too, and I imagine older kids would enjoy it as well.

The Caboose Who Got Loose

The Caboose Who Got Loose, by Bill Peet 

This might be the train book I read the most as a kid: Katy the Caboose is tired of dragging along at the end of the train, and wants to sit quietly for a change. (Trains are also a big part of another of Bill Peet’s books, Chester the Worldly Pig.)

The Little Red Caboose, Marian Potter 

This is an older story as well, but one we found only recently. It’s very similar to The Caboose Who Got Loose, but instead of escaping drudgery as Katy does, this caboose saves the day and gets the recognition it longs for. I’m tempted at times to extemporize and create a version where the caboose doesn’t get recognized for its work, but is still happy to do a job well-done, even without the fame. I refrain, though. Mostly.

The Little Train, by Lois Lenski 

Lois Lenski has a series of short, cute stories about daily life, told by various workers. This one is about trains. The engineer and his crew load their train and drive it through the countryside to the city and back. And that’s all about Engineer Small!

Trains, by Hal Rogers 

A non-fiction book about trains. It's not the best reading book, per say, but my kids liked looking at the pictures.

mi primer libro de trenes

Mi Primero Libro de Trenes, by Chris Dunst 

This is a fun, fairly simple story, told by a child about the trains his father drives. We have the Spanish version, but there is an English version as well. Dunst is an Indie author, so unfortunately, the book is only available as a Kindle book. Because of that, we only read it while we are traveling (when we use an iPad instead of carrying a dozen books along with us.) However, we do read it every time we travel, so there’s that to say for it.

Trains from A to Z, by Tarang Warat 

This is another Indie-author, Amazon-only book, but in paperback form. To be honest, I haven’t read this book yet, so maybe I shouldn’t have it on this list? But the author posted it in one of my Facebook groups, and when I took a look, it moved immediately onto the Christmas wish list for my kids. It looks like the sort of simple, semi-encyclopedic train book that my preschooler would enjoy.

What about you? Do you have any favorite train stories?