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A group of people standing next to Mavis the train.

When you hear about trains and their fictional representations, your mind may first go to Thomas the Tank Engine™  and all of his train friends. While Thomas is certainly one of the most famous fictional trains, he is far from the only one.

Read our blog to discover how trains in fiction have shown up in various media. From cartoons to movies, books, and TV shows, perhaps you will find something new you and your kids will thoroughly enjoy!

Fiction Books About Trains

Countless books cover all sorts of topics related to trains. How they work, the different parts they contain, the history of railroad developments, etc. And while there are books like these geared towards kids, fictional train books are without a doubt entertaining reads to share. 

Here are a few books you may want to share with your kids, perfect for introducing them to the world of steam engines and adventure.

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

One of the most popular and well-beloved children’s stories, The Little Engine That Could tells the story of a different blue fictional train engine and its willingness to lend a helping hand. 

When a train engine carrying toys for the children of a town breaks down attempting to climb a tall mountain, other trains are asked to assist in delivering the goods the rest of the way. All of the trains refuse for various reasons, except for one: a little blue engine.

Despite the many doubts about the engine’s capabilities due to its small size, the little blue engine is successful in making it over the mountain and completing the delivery. All while repeating the little blue engine’s famous motto: “I think I can, I think I can.”

This book is perfect for teaching kids the value of not giving up and never doubting their abilities simply based on the perception of others. When kids are encouraged to believe in themselves, they can achieve great things.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Another beloved classic, The Boxcar Children is a book series that elementary school children are sure to love. Though the story itself does not feature any famous fictional trains, as the title suggests, the story features an abandoned boxcar that the main characters frequent/live in.

Following the death of their parents in the first novel, siblings Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden travel to avoid being separated and eventually take up residence in an abandoned train boxcar

They eventually meet their Grandfather, who convinces them to live with him but manages to find a way to move and renovate the boxcar so the kids can continue to play and hang out in it in their backyard.

From there, the Alden kids go on to live happily in their new home, solving mysteries around town. If your kids are looking for a lighthearted mystery series to explore, then this series cannot be recommended enough.

Where Do Steam Trains Sleep At Night by Brianna Caplan Sayres

A good read and bedtime story for young kids, Where Do Steam Trains Sleep At Night is a perfect train book to read before bed (and even during the day for kids who claim the story to be their favorite).

Follow a variety of locomotives and engines as they prepare for bed, accompanied by beautiful illustrations and fun rhymes that are sure to bring smiles to readers. All while teaching kids about the many types of trains that exist and what they do!

Thomas the train traveling on train tracks with train cars attached to him.

Train Movies for Kids

If you’re looking for train movies that you and your kids are sure to love, then we’ve got a few that are sure to spark your interest and imagination!

Take a look at some popular picks that will be fun watches for any fan of all things locomotive.

The Polar Express – Directed by Robert Zemeckis

A staple for the holiday season, The Polar Express features one of the most famous holiday train rides and adventures beloved by both kids and adults, featuring one of the most well-known trains in fiction.

Following a boy who has been doubting and losing his Christmas spirit on Christmas Eve night, watchers are invited to come aboard the Polar Express, a magic train delivering kids to the North Pole to meet Santa and find the true meaning of Christmas along the way.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the holiday cheer that Tom Hanks brings through the many characters he voices in this film. Both you and your kids are sure to love, and hopefully remember what it means to cherish the true spirit of Christmas.

Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends™ Movies – Directed by Britt Allcroft, Steve Asquith, Greg Tiernan, etc.

Nothing beats a classic Thomas the Tank Engine™ movie. With more than ten films having been produced since the early 2000s, a plethora of movies about trains (starring the famous blue engine himself) awaits all fans of the Thomas franchise.

And if your child has yet to hear about Thomas or the other engines on the Island of Sodor, take the opportunity to introduce them to the magic of the films!

Train TV Shows for Kids

Of course, we cannot forget about the many television shows geared towards kids and their love of steam engines. Many train cartoons are created with the specific purpose not only to teach children about trains, but also other skills to prepare them for school.

See a few popular train TV shows we’re sure your kids will enjoy, and perhaps even learn something from them.

“Chuggington” – Produced by Ludorum PLC, and Herschend Entertainment Studios

A show featuring talking train characters learning lessons about how to be good individuals and trains, “Chuggington” is a great show to introduce kids with an enthusiasm for trains.

Follow young “trainees” Wilson, Brewster, and Koko as they learn from the adult “chuggers” about important responsibilities while exploring the town of Chuggington. With a catchy theme song and plenty of skills to learn, the show is an excellent watch for any young train fan.

“Dinosaur Train” – Created by Craig Bartlett

In this train cartoon, “Dinosaur Train” takes place in a prehistoric world where young dinosaurs such as Buddy the tyrannosaurus rex and his pterodactyl siblings and many others can explore the region via the Dinosaur Train.

Many adventures await the characters and the young viewers as rides on the whimsical train are accompanied by lessons on understanding the differences between others and knowledge of the prehistoric era. Perfect for kids who have a passion for both trains and dinosaurs.

A steam engine is sitting on a train track next to another train.

Looking for more ways to engage with your child’s interest in trains? Consider coming to the Strasburg Rail Road, and purchasing tickets for one of our many engine rides!