Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chug a chug a choo chooooo

For this post, I have consulted with my very own personal authority on trains -- hats off to my sister-in-law Tara!  Tara's three boys began their language with train vocabulary.  The eldest's first word was actually the compound word "hub cap" (I guess this is technically car vocabulary, but you see where he was headed.), shortly followed by "coupling," which I had to have defined for me.  Since then, the three have been walking train encyclopedias ~ we're talking about 2 to 3 year olds at the time.

Tara takes it from here:
Our family's love of trains began 9 years ago on our eldest son's first birthday.  He received a small Thomas the Tank Engine train set.  Well, that train set has grown greatly and so has our enjoyment of trains.  It probably helps that all three of our children are boys.  

We were fortunate to have a wonderful librarian in our town's public library.  We asked her about train books, and she opened the door to train literature for us - from the non-fiction picture books to wonderful fiction stories about trains.  Her first recommendation was Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga by Christopher Wormell.  The boys loved it so much that we bought it for Christmas that year.  
Another stellar recommendation was the Bill Peet books The Caboose Who Got Loose and Farewell to Shady Glade.  The stories are fantastic with a good lesson for our children, and the illustrations are the best I've ever seen.  To give you an indication, Peet worked with Walt Disney on many movie illustrations, including Dumbo!  

Along the way we have discovered other wonderful trains books.  The Rev. W. Awdry wrote all of the Thomas stories.  For the most part we find them to be very good, however, the British language sometimes throws our boys.  The stories sometimes show the trains dealing with bad attitudes and pride.  A wonderful board book for younger children is Red Train by Will Grace.  The book is helpful with counting and colors.  
The boys all love the Little Golden Book, a gift and recommendation by this blog's writer, The Little Red Caboose.  A list of wonderful train books would be lacking if it did not include the popular Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  
Another little known book that we discovered at the local library Steam, Smoke, and Steel:  Back in Time With Trains by Patrick O'Brien is better for the more mature children.  It is a clever book about a boy who wants to drive a train when he grows up.  It goes on to trace back the long family line of train drivers and the way trains were different in the past.  The illustrations are wonderful.  Each page contains a cat that the children can try to find; our boys showed us this.  The historical aspect of trains in this book is very good.  [Suggested reading level 4 - 9]

Happy journey with trains in literature!

Here's a few more for your Train Reading List:

Tara mentioned The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter ~ tells why children wait to wave at the little red caboose lagging behind at the very end of the train.

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper illustrated by George and Doris Hauman ~ a true classic!! ~ an excellent story in perseverance, with the familiar adage: "I think I can. I think I can."  Yes, I confess I took this to college with me!  Note: do check out the original illustrations as the publishers have recently updated the illustrations for none the better.

Freight Train by Donald Crews ~ perfect for the beginning train lover!  Also, this was a 1979 Caldecott Honor Winner.

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit ~ a classic in children's literature and Edith Nesbit's best known work.  When their father is called away, three siblings and their mother move from the suburbs to the English countryside.  The children, lonely at first, discover a railway tunnel where the Station Master befriends them and where their adventures with the neighboring railway begin.  This also makes a great book to give to a family that's moving away.  Suggested reading level: 9 - 12+.

Although, I have yet to read the following books, I'm quite familiar with the authors, so you may want to try them out for additional books to your Train Reading List:  Inside Freight Train by Donald Crews, The Little Train by Lois Lenski, Two Little Trains by Margaret Wise Brown, and All Aboard Trains by Mary Harding.  Readers, what are your children's favorite train books?  Do you have any childhood memories with train books?  Thank you Tara and boys for the train recommendations!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great list! I've found that as long as a book has any sort of train, he'll learn about anything else it covers!