The Big Book of Trains

Book review by
Katherine Olney, Common Sense Media
The Big Book of Trains Book Poster Image
Draws in railroad buffs and reluctant readers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of information about trains -- record-breaking engines, workhorse locomotives, trains of the future -- electric, diesel, and steam varieties. Fun facts and figures and large photos to pore over. 

Positive Messages

Implied message that technology and invention keep evolving to improve transportation. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Salute to train builders and operators who keep trains evolving and helping people. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Big Book of Trains has a great balance of need-to-know facts and astounding tidbits that will keep little kids and older readers -- including parents -- interested.

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What's the story?

In THE BIG BOOK OF TRAINS, huge photographs, a big-book format, and some of the most powerful or unusual trains will draw young railroad buffs -- and reluctant readers -- into the realm of the locomotive. There's a lot covered here: record-breaking engines, workhorse locomotives, and trains of the future; electric, diesel, and steam varieties; and a grab bag of facts and figures.


Is it any good?

What better way to convey in a book the majesty of a train than a huge 13-by-10-inch photo of one? Even readers who aren't train buffs will enjoy examining these pictures over and over again. The size of the photographs and the book itself are especially appropriate for kids 7 and younger, but older children are more likely to enjoy the text details.

The section on monorail trains mentions that most have only two cars, but one child immediately asked why that was true. Another wanted to know whether most steam trains ran on both steam and coal, or just coal, after the text pointed out that both configurations existed. But these are minor quibbles -- overall, this is a great book for curious kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different types of trains shown in The Big Book of Trains. How have trains evolved over the years?

  • What's your favorite train in the book? 

  • What do you think it would be like to be a train engineer or conductor? 

Book details

Themes & Topics

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