Our Experts Answer Your Questions

« Back

I would like to offer ‘Station Story Time’ to our local primary schools on WBD, providing a period-costumed story reader in our waiting room at the steam railway. Can you suggest any suitable books with a railway theme for KS1 or 2?

Gosh, this is a very specific question, and I have had a lot of fun asking publishers and friends for their favourite train books!

You won’t be surprised that the most popular response by a long way for Key Stage 1 readers was Thomas the Tank Engine which Egmont publish a variety of formats from board books to story books.  Books are available through Bounce Sales and Marketing (ikudeiko@bouncemarketing.co.uk)  and Publications International.

Trains are such a perennially popular subject with young readers that you are spoilt for choice in terms of picture books.  Non-Thomas favourites included THE POLAR EXPRESS by Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen Press); BIG BLUE TRAIN by Julia Jarman and Adrian Reynolds (Orchard Books); and  CHOO CHOO CLICKETY CLACK by Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe (also Orchard Books).  Random House also republished Benedict Blathwayt’s classic LITTLE RED TRAIN series a few years ago in paperback,  and have now also produced an app which might be interesting to look at.

Moving on to Key Stage 2, it’s more difficult to find fiction stories which are specifically about trains.  My favourite, and the first one which came up from everyone I asked, was E Nesbitt’s THE RAILWAY CHILDREN, which has wonderfully dramatic scenes for reading out loud.  Other classic books in which trains feature importantly include A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON by Michael Bond (HarperCollins);  WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT by Judith Kerr (HarperCollins), in which the author and her family flee Nazi Germany by train; HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE, of course – the steam train to end all steam trains!  And, moving away from classics to more contemporary fiction for 7-9 year olds, you could look at the delightful THE TROUBLE WITH WENLOCKS by Joel Stewart, which begins with a boy and his dog being thrown off an old-fashioned train…

I’ve focused on fiction, as this seemed more appropriate for Story Time.  If you are looking for non-fiction I recommend starting on Usborne’s website.

Good luck! It sounds like a wonderful event.