14 Best Children’s Books About Trains Update 05/2022

Children's Books About Trains

The sound of a train whistle, especially at night, still makes me want to go somewhere new and exciting. I can’t help but think about how long the journey will be (the longer the better) and where it will end up (somewhere remote and exotic is best). I like the idea that the train is its own little world, with all the people and stories and interesting places it might have. In The Boundless, I just made my train bigger than most and filled it with as many interesting things as I could.

Besides Murder on the Orient Express, I can’t think of any book that takes place mostly on the train. I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of any that take place mostly on the train. What I have instead is a list of books that have interesting train scenes, or at least interesting references to trains.

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

There are, of course, a lot of interesting ways to get around in this fast-paced book. One of my favorite parts is the train ride across the American West, which includes uncooperative bison, a rickety suspension bridge, and a Sioux Indian attack.

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

When the book starts, our brave heroine is waiting for her guardians on a train platform in Prince Edward Island. This is a bit of a stretch, but I’m putting it in because it’s such a well-known Canadian classic and a great book! She’s just arrived from an orphanage and is looking for a new home and a new life. She doesn’t know that they asked for a boy, not a girl.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

I can’t think of a better way to start the school year than on a magical steam train, especially one with a food cart that had so many great chocolates and candies. European-style compartments with sliding doors are my favorite. They’re an oasis before the chaos of school, where friendships are made or rekindled, and where friendships are made or rekindled again.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

There are a lot of train trips in the movie, but it’s not all about trains. One of them is on the Orient Express, where our heroes travel across Europe to find out what happened to Count Dracula and defeat him.

Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Aiken wrote some great books, but this one starts with a very exciting scene in which our heroine is on a train at night, going north to a new home. Outside, she hears the howling of wolves, and then they attack. They hurtle at the glass and almost break into her compartment.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Some people find it a little sad, but the images of the magnificent train (and its cozy interiors) and the beautiful landscapes it passes through on its way to the North Pole make them feel excited and awestruck.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Again, this is a stretch, but trains do play a big role in two places. It all started with our hero being left at a train station as a baby. He was put in a piece of luggage and left there. A second time, when asked why she brought her diary with her on the train, Gwendolyn Fairfax says, “One should always have something exciting to read on the train.”

Locomotive by Brian Floca

A beautiful picture book that tells the story of a family’s trip across the Union Pacific in 1869, from Omaha to Sacramento. It’s a detailed picture record of the steam train and its time.

When Floca’s book is read, anyone will become a train fan. It was the winner of the Caldecott Medal. For older kids, Floca’s book is full of facts about the transcontinental railroad and a free-verse story for kids who love trains. It’s a great choice for kids who love trains.

The Last Spike by Pierre Berton

The Last Spike by Pierre Berton

It is a companion book to Berton’s book, The National Dream. Berton’s non-fiction account of how the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) was built in the 1880s is written with the flair of a good novel. It brings the people and events of that time to life. An important tool for me while I was writing The Boundless.

Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

When a cricket from Connecticut gets on a train, it ends up in New York City by mistake. In his new home at the Times Square station, he becomes a musical star. But he eventually goes back to his peaceful home by train.

The Little Train by Lois Lenski

Mr. Small: The Little Fire Engine and Policeman Small are also part of this series. Engineer Small drives his train to the city and back. In case you’re curious about how the train works, this text is for you!

Sleep Train

by Jonathan London, illustrated by Lauren Eldridge

Are there better ways to go to sleep for a train fan than to count the cars? This is a very detailed book. Each page is a 3D illustration that is very well done. The story-within-a-story takes kids to dreamland with a little boy who is reading a train book before bed. This new entry is sure to be a hit with train fans.


by Susan E. Goodman, illustrated by Michael J. Doolittle

This book is for people who like trains of all kinds, from old steam locomotives to high-tech bullet trains. It will show them how they work. Also, the train from Scotland that was supposed to be the Hogwarts Express makes a cameo in the movie.

Steam Train, Dream Train

by Sherry Duskey Rinker, illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld

This sweet goodnight rhyme, written by the same people who wrote Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, has beautiful illustrations (animals like polar bears packing a train car full of ice cream while elephants manage tankers of paint). Train fans will have a good time when the song moves along. You’ll be able to remember it, because this will be read over and over.

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