Thursday, May 23, 2013

Trucks and Trains

Whenever Jack sees a truck, he points and gets very excited. He's not so much with the language yet, so his usually shouts "Dooooo! Guck!!!" which I think translates into "Look! Truck!" So naturally his favorite books center around trucks. And trains (or "tyoo tyoo" in Jack speak).

If you've got your own little truck/train enthusiast on your hands, here are some books you might want to pick up from the library the next time you go. (If your library is cool like mine, it might even have a drive thru so you don't ever have to run the risk of a middle-of-the-library meltdown!)

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? (Sayres)
This charming little book takes you through myriad truck scenarios, asking where not only diggers, but fire trucks, car transporters, snow plows, and monster trucks (among others) sleep at night. A sample verse (since I have them all memorized):

Where do fire engines sleep
when they've won their firefights?
Do their flashing fire-red beacons
make for super bright night lights?

Highly recommended for bed time!

Little Blue Truck (Schertle)
This book features a lot of sound effects for kids who like trucks and animals. The illustrations are really beautiful, too. There is a lesson to this book, but it's not overt. Essentially, little blue truck (the protagonist) is very friendly and greets everyone he passes. But when a large dump truck (the antagonist) rumbles by in a hurry, the dump honks loudly that he's very important and very busy and doesn't have time for such things. In his hurry, he doesn't see a large mud puddle in the road. What happens next is a testament to the importance of friendship and making time for relationships. The rhyming text and beautiful illustrations make this a book I don't mind reading over and over. 

Down by The Station (Hillenbrand)
Down by the station, early in the morning
See the little puffer bellies all in a row.
See the engine driver pull his little lever.
Puff, puff, toot, toot! Off we go!

This tune might be familiar to you. In this version, the train makes its way through the zoo, stopping at each animal exhibit to pick up a baby animal (elephant, panda, seal, tiger, etc.). The destination is the Children's Zoo, where kids get to play with the animals. (Bonus: Jack loves to spot the school bus in the pictures!) When the seal unwittingly jumps right into the alligator pond, Jack loves saying "UH OH!" and then "WHEW!" when he's rescued.

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo (Lewis)
This is another good bed time book. The story is a day in the life of a train - waking up, being loaded with freight, traveling across the country, and arriving in the city where the freight is unloaded. Then the train goes to bed. The cute part is that the pictures show it as a toy train. The engineer is a doll, and the train is being loaded by various toys. When the train goes "across the river, swift and wide", the illustrations show it crossing an aquarium. At the end of the book, you see the train track laid out all around a little boy's room. The little boy is in bed, snuggling the toy engine. Jack always always yawns at the end of this book, and for awhile it was the only book he'd let me read him right before bed.

Trucks (Priddy)
This is one of Jack's favorite books. It's mostly informational, with a lot of text on each page. We often don't read all the text, but that just means it will grow with him. As he gets older and his attention span increases, he'll listen for longer on each page. This is also a lift-the-flap book, so it's very interactive even for younger kids. The illustrations are brightly colored and simple. The squares along the outside are tabs, so Jack often skips pages, and just goes to whichever truck he wants to see. His favorite is the fire engine. He makes the "whee-oooh whee-ooh" sound every time.

Others to look for:
Any of the Thomas readers (like this one), Or even Thomas board books (like this one), That's Not My Tractor! (here), That's Not My Train! (here), The Wheels on the Bus (the Raffi version)

Unfortunately, some of our favorites were picked up at various used book stores or dollar stores and are not available for regular purchase. These include: Rollin' With Rowdy (Chuck brand), Choo Choo (Horacek), Fire Trucks in Action (link), How Many Trucks Can a Tow Truck Tow? (link), Let's Build (shaped book from dollar store), and an informational book whose title I can't remember detailing a day in the life of firefighter Tom.

With most children's books, the deciding factor in how popular it will be is how many times the parent can stand to read it over and over. These all definitely make the cut! Make a call to your local library and ask them to check if they have them. They'll do it right over the phone, and even place a hold for you so they're ready when you get there! Happy reading!