Aiden is obsessed with books and with trains. We have come across a number of train-related books at swaps and library sales and have supplemented our library with several other train books. Based on my research, we’ve covered pretty much every well-known train book, plus a few others.
If your toddler also loves trains, I hope you’ll find these reviews helpful!
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo - this has been a favourite of Aiden’s for a long time. Written in a sing-song style, the book is easy to read and fun to listen to: Aiden loves to chime in on the “whoo whoo” parts. The story is of a train that needs to pick up and deliver its freight through city and country alike before the train goes to the roundhouse… using toys to build the scenery, it’s also a story of the boy who imagines the world for his trains.
When he was younger, we used to elaborate on the characters of the book and often stopped to talk about them or sing about them (such as Humpty Dumpty). Even though his reading level is much higher now, this continues to be a favourite.
Also fun by the same author is Tugga-Tugga Tugboat.
The Little Engine that Could – a classic story about a train that breaks down and needs another engine to help deliver toys and food to deserving girls and boys. Several engines refuse to help before the little blue engine comes along – though she’s small, she believes in herself and the cause and makes the long ride up the hill. It’s a sweet story.
Aiden is able to recite a great deal of this book from memory and loves the pictures. He often pretends some of his trains are the characters from this book, with “shiny new engine” being his favourite character.
Busy Trains - this was our first non-story-based book about trains and we were tired of it long before Aiden was. The book itself is ‘busy’ in its complexity of detail, which toddlers seem to adore: there’s always something new to look at and talk about.
The book introduces kids to different kinds of trains and what jobs they can do. Aiden’s favourite page is the one where the engineer needs to tell the cow to get off the track. He thinks cowcatchers on trains are fascinating.
Train Song – even though our copy of this book is missing a page, and is a little worse for wear, it is nonetheless a fun read. I made up a tune that seemed to fit the ‘song’ and do actually sing the book to Aiden whenever I read it.
The story tells of a little boy eagerly awaiting the arrival of a train each day, as well as the components of the train and where it travels. The book is bright and simple but compelling from its use of rhyme.
Two Little Trains – also written in a sing-song manner, this book compares a toy train with a shiny train, both heading West. We watch as they pass through tunnels (a book tunnel for the toy train) and rain (a shower for the toy train) to head out West. It’s a fun story that shows how a little child could bring a story to life in his own home.
This is one of my favourites, even if the story is not as relatable now.
Train: Eyewitness Books - this is our first ‘encyclopedia’ for trains. Though there are many pages that “Aiden no like”, since they show details of train interiors rather than exteriors, this book has taught us a lot about trains. We’ve been able to impart a lot of knowledge to Aiden about how trains work and how they’ve evolved.
Aiden’s favourite activity is to read this book and tell us that “One day, Aiden will go on this train with ___ [insert chosen person}”. Perhaps one day he will.
Thomas and Friends Series: we are big fans of Thomas in this house, so it should come as no surprise that we own many Thomas books.
We have the Thomas the Tank Engine Story Collection, a huge anthology containing several dozen stories and their original artwork. While not as vibrant as most kid books, Aiden is still mesmerized by the stories of all the Thomas characters. He’s able to identify most of the trains thanks to all of these stories!
To supplement our collection, we have some of the newer stories including Thomas Goes Fishing, a fun story about Thomas’ wish to fish, Hero of the Rails, a fun story that goes along with the movie about a lost train named Hero who is found again. Our first Thomas book was the Thomas & Friends Musical Treasury: Really Useful Engines book with a built-in music box that plays the theme music. Aiden went through stages where he was obsessed with this book, though this is the first time I’ve been able to find it online to write about it. Our most recent purchase is Blue Train, Green Train, a story that incorporates the rhymes of Dr. Seuss. Though this book is very simple, I thought Aiden would enjoy it as he’s just beginning to enjoy Dr. Seuss books.
The Polar Express – this is a seasonal favourite of Aiden’s. Though I put away Christmas books in the off season, in part to retain my own sanity, we read this book nearly every night for 2 months. We also watched the movie dozens of times.
I definitely prefer the book over the movie and love the tradition of reading Christmas books each year. The fact that this book ties in with an adventure in Squamish means that this will be a go-to book for several years for us.
All Aboard Trains – also a recent purchase, as above. I purchased this book because the reviews indicated there was a great balance between pictures and information, allowing Aiden to grow into this book as he gets older.
I think he will probably outgrow this book before he outgrows the Eyewitness Book we have (featured above), as this one is not quite as comprehensive. That said, it did contain more information on the types of cargo cars that a train can carry, so those facts are new and appreciated.
My Train Book - based upon some research I did online, I recently purchased this book for Aiden. The book was a little more sparse than the online reviews had indicated, which is rather a pity. He will likely outgrow this book soon.
The trains featured are varied and colourful, but the text is very limited and random. This is probably my least favourite of all train books we own at the moment.
Do you have other favourite books involving trains for your toddler or elementary school-aged child? If so, do share!
Aiden loves reading. He can (and has) spent hours in a row reading. Most other parents call us “lucky” for having a child who loves to read. Indeed, in many ways we are. But, until they’ve spent several hours every day reading books… well, we set limits. ;)
We have a set of shelves in our living room that organizes most of Aiden’s toys and has one shelf that can hold about 15 books. I rotate books into this shelf every few months, as these serve as Aiden’s primary reading when he’s downstairs. He would prefer to read (or watch tv) to playing with toys, so we often negotiate that he play before he reads, or he reads X number of books then has some playtime.
Aside from this unscheduled reading time, Aiden reads 1-2 books before his nap, spends about 30 mins reading after his nap (most days) and reads 4 books before bed. All of this reading is in his room where most of his books are.
As much for our own sanity as for Aiden’s benefit, we have a large collection of books. Most of our books have come from swap meets or library book sales, though many have been purchased or given new as well. We tend to be overwhelmed when we get new books, as Aiden wants to read them constantly, so I actually visit the library very infrequently. We’ll see if that changes in the future.
Aiden’s new bookshelf arrived just today – I’m SO happy with it. It definitely beats having some books up too high on his hutch, stuffed into his side table, or simply piled up on the floor. I’ve taken away a few dozen baby books, moving them to baby #2′s room, and now have a fairly organized system for his books. He has a dozen or so anthologies, which I’ve organized into his side table shelf, and the rest have a new home on the above shelving unit. Off-season books, or books he’s not ready for, are up on his hutch.
I <3 organization.
Aiden has an astounding memory. He wants to know the details of everything - every kind of tree, kind of car, kind of dinosaur and part on a train. He never stops asking questions and is great at showing off his skills by retaining an endless stream of facts.
Not only does Aiden have a great memory for facts (which he gets from Ianiv), he also has a fantastic situational memory (which he gets from me). He loves to tell stories of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. We have always encouraged Aiden to talk about his day, but it goes far beyond that. Aiden will talk about things he’s done a LONG time ago.
Aiden continually talked about how Babby had “forgotten” money for the tractor at his last visit to Maplewood Farms. This time, there was no getting around renting that tractor.
Some examples of Aiden’s memory in action:
- He talks about Hawaii all the time. In detail. He recounted, unprompted, how we took a green bus to a cruise ship where we saw girls wearing flowers dancing. All of this was correct. His most common things to bring up are the airplane, the penguins, trolley busses and swimming.
- We recently went to a butcher we hadn’t been to since last summer. Aiden immediately remembered that we bought crackers last time we were there and asked for them again. This was nearly a YEAR later.
- He brings up and compares different situations. He will tell you how the sloth in his Animals Encyclopedia (he loves this book) is the same as the blue sloth in the Dora video.
- He told me about a birthday party 6 months after we went there, out of the blue. He told me how much fun the bouncy castle was and that he liked the goldfish snacks.
- He recently told me the entire plot of a book we’d only read 2 times. He was really looking forward to reading said book before his nap.
There are endless examples of Aiden’s memory in action. I am daily astounded by the things he talks about with me and how he shares not only his current day but events in the past that really made an impression on him.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Aiden has begun calling out the names of logos he recognizes of stores, restaurants, cafes and delivery trucks (as examples). In the same way he insists on knowing the title of every book we read, to ask for it by name, he also wants to know the names of every place we pass or go to. ;)
I’m already finding myself having to research things to fulfill Aiden’s desire for facts. Crazy!
Aiden loves to read. Without being diverted, I’m pretty sure he’d spend his entire day reading (or rather, being read to). Even at Strong Start, he’ll ask to sit down and read with me several times during the morning and will read until I shoo him away to play. I have many personal conflicts in stopping his reading, which feels like discouraging his interest, but there really is only so much time you can spend reading.
With that in mind, you can imagine that we have a LOT of favourite books. I buy a lot of books for Aiden, particularly at big library book sales. If we go to the library, we would spend a week sitting on the couch reading those books after, so I tend not to take out as many books as you’d expect. Still, our library is quite impressive.
These are some of Aiden’s favourite books at age 2:
- Curious George - Original set or the newer Treasury – Aiden reads one or more of these stories every night, and sometimes also during the day. “Daddy read the Curious George book” is common with most bedtimes. The original series is very old-fashioned in its morals, almost criticizing curiosity, so we have steered Aiden to the newer collection. He loves that the index page has pictures so he can choose which story to read.
- Hide and Seek First Words - this one book could keep Aiden occupied for an hour. He loves to choose things to find, to be challenged to find things in a new way, to count items, to talk about the pictures, etc. There’s no end to how creative you can be with a series of photos and no story.
- Busy Trains - this is a very old book and very cluttered, but with so many things to look at, the story varies often. Aiden likes that.
- The Little Engine That Could – this book was popular, though it may now be waning. He likes the pages that describe the contents of the train the best.
- Chugga Chugga Choo Choo - this was a favourite long before Aiden was 2. It’s very musical if read cover-to-cover, but also plays to Aiden’s desire to have a ‘changing’ story. I know I spent several months pausing to do the Humpty Dumpty rhyme on the page with that toy. Very whimsical.
- Poky Little Puppy (not exact link) - we have the story about Poky wanting to join in the Golden Book Land Games race. Silly story, but he likes it.
- The Polar Express - we just put this away, but it was a staple of our nightly reading all month. He was crazy for it.
- Cars and Trucks and Things That Go - the pages are so cluttered and creative that it always changes.
- Train Song – I actually made up a tune for this one, so probably that’s why Aiden likes it.
- Whatever Wanda Wanted – a funny story about a little girl who was spoiled, whisked away, and learned a lesson in humility
Aiden doesn’t read any of his board books anymore, nor does he enjoy the ‘first word’ type books, in general. They were big for a long time. He prefers books with stories or with lots of pictures that can be extensively examined. He has little patience for books by Dr. Seuss, though he will happily sit through Winnie-the-Pooh. From time-to-time he will go back to Mother Goose rhymes (we have many compilations).
I try to rotate books around every 3 months or so, moving books from Aiden’s room to his shelf downstairs and reorganizing his shelf in his room. I try to bring other books to his attention, but he often has favourites that he’ll return to. He’s most likely to explore a new book if it’s in his play area, though if he doesn’t like a book, he’ll stop asking for it very quickly.
What books do your kids like at age 2?
We received a copy of Sounds of the Ferry by Whistler-based author Sara Leach a couple of weeks ago to review. As you all know, Aiden loves his books. Although he’s past the read-to-me-all-day stage, he still loves to read with us.
This book is filled the colourful pictures and a rhythmic story about a trip across on a ferry boat. For those of you who have taken your children across on a ferry trip, it can really bring the memories back. Although the fun sounds and bright pictures appeal to my nearly-two-year-old, there are recurring pictures in the book that are great for the older kid to seek out and explore.
For Aiden, the only ferry boat trip that he’s taken was a short one on the aquabus with his Babby some months back. However, he shouted out “Babby” as soon as I told him that the “Big Boat” was a ferry. Amazing memories, these kids have!
Sounds of the Ferry has made a welcome home in our book collection.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.