Like most little boys, my son was really into trains. Really, really into trains. As in, those were the only books we read to him. He wasn’t really into Thomas though, and I love vintage illustrations, especially those from the 1930’s-50’s. We were able to find quite a few books that made us both happy: trains for him, vintage illustrations for me. Eventually, our collection of train books grew to fill several baskets, and here’s a list of my ten favorites.
Vintage Style Train Books for Kids
Locomotive – Brian Floca. Winner of the Caldecott Medal (2014), this book is the longest of the group at 64 pages. Set in 1869, readers experience the Transcontinental Railroad.
The Little Train – Lois Lenski. This book was originally published in the 1940’s and is filled with adorable vintage illustrations. Engineer Small drives his train from Tinytown to Union Station.
Tootle – Gertrude Crampton. “Little Golden Books” have some of the best vintage illustrations; they certainly are the most identifiable. Originally published in 1945, Tootle is often distracted from his job.
The Little Red Caboose – Marian Potter. Another “Little Golden Book”, with great 1950’s era illustrations. Caboose wants to be as popular as the powerful engines.
Steam, Smoke, and Steel – Patrick O’Brien. Beginning with the earliest trains in the 1830’s, the narrator traces the history of trains and his family’s connection to trains, as each generation drives a different style of train.
Crossing – Phillip Booth. Set in the 1950’s, this charming poem is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. My favorite book on the list.
The Little Engine That Could – Watty Piper. The little train carries toys and gifts for children, but when she train breaks down, none of the big trains will help her get to the city. Eventually, she decides, “I think I can.”
Country Crossing – Jim Aylesworth. This is a magical book. An old Model T car pulls up to a rural railroad crossing, and we enjoy the quiet summer night as they wait for the train to pass. That peacefulness is broken by the train, with all of its lights and noise. As the train moves farther and farther away, the peacefulness returns.
Curious George Takes a Train – Margaret & HA Rey and Martha Weston. George wreaks havoc in the train station, meets a young boy, and eventually gets to ride in the front of the train.
All Aboard Trains – Mary Harding. More of an informative text, this book will give your little reader all the train vocabulary they’ll need.
I hope you’ll check out some of these great books. They will make your little train lover happy.