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15 Picture Books about Cars, Trucks and Trains

About seven years ago, my sister Merrick and I were driving in the car together with no children.

At the time, we both had two year olds and so, in the middle of a perfectly calm, adult conversation, I interrupted her mid-sentence to say, “Look! There’s a . . . ”

And then I realized she probably didn’t care one bit that there was a horse in a pasture next to the road.

She burst out laughing and then said she and her husband had frequently caught themselves pointing out construction vehicles to each other, by their proper names no less, even when their little guy wasn’t along for the ride.

It’s funny how you become an expert on the topics your child is obsessed with.

So if vehicles happen to be that topic in your house, I’m willing to bet these fifteen picture books about cars and trucks will be big hits at your house.

Plus, you never know when you’ll want to show off your knowledge of technical terms for construction vehicles.

books about cars

15 picture books about cars and trucks for kids

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. I see this as the classic vehicle book. The sweet story and vintage illustrations about Mike’s mission to prove his beloved steam shovel isn’t antiquated has been a favorite for generations (and for good reason!).



Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld. Who knew bedtime rhymes and cement Mixers, bulldozers, and excavators would mix so well? Each of the vehicles settles in to rest at the construction site after a busy day. Plus, there are more books in this series so if your child is a fan, you’ve got more up your sleeve!



Freight Train by Donald Crews. This train book won a Caldecott Honor and I never get tired of the beautiful colors against the crisp white background as each train car is introduced and then zips along for a speedy ride.



Fire Truck by Peter Sis. What could be more thrilling than waking up to discover you are a fire truck? Flashing lights, speedy tires, and emergencies to solve, it’s a pretty good life for a little boy. But when pancakes show up on the breakfast table, it might be time to turn back into a human again.




I’m Fast! by Kate McMullan and Jim McMullan. A race between a train and a zippy little race car speeds through the desert, over mountains, and into a city. And you’ll have to wait until the very end to find out which one wins!



Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. Doesn’t every transportation lover secretly just really want to drive that big truck or bus or car? The pigeon does too. And it’s your job to keep him to the rules.




Truck Stuck by Sallie Wolf and Andy Robert Davies. When a truck gets stuck under a bridge, the whole community gathers together trying to figure out how to get it unstuck and life back to normal.



Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. I love a book with clever die-cuts, and this one, where you have to guess what vehicle is on the next page based on the lights shining through the cuts in each page is beautifully designed. My girls loved this one just as much as I did.




Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld. I love this wacky book about various matchups between a shark and a train. The train might be better speeding through the flat desert, but the shark wins a diving contest every time. And who is a better at ping pong? Or bowling?




That’s How! by Chistoph Niemann. This clever book shows two kids checking out a bunch of different vehicles and wondering how they work. One of the children has all sorts of wild ideas about what’s inside that makes them run. Ella and I giggled through every page.




Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim. I don’t know how the idea for writing a book about poetry featuring trucks came about, but it works better than you might expect!




Trucks Go by Steve Light. For the very youngest truck enthusiast, this book features all the sounds various trucks make, in a simply-illustrated board book format that can stand up to 10000 readings (if you can stand up to that many readings).


Machines Go to Work by William Low. Showcasing nine machines in beautiful detail, this book with giant flaps shows all the kinds of things these amazing machines can be used for.




Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle and Jill McElmurry. Does it get better than this classic book about a little truck that gets stuck while pushing a dump truck out of the muck? Blue has made a pack of farm animal friends along his route and so when he’s in trouble, they’re ready and willing to help. Plus the truck sounds and animals noises make this one an extra fun read-aloud.


Backseat A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout. Set against deep black pages, you see all different kinds of traffic signs from the vantage point of a small child in the backseat of a car. I LOVE this book about cars – it’s definitely one of my favorite ever alphabet books.





And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

And other favorite vehicle books I missed? I’d love to hear – leave your suggestions in the comments. It helps make these posts more useful for other families and I appreciate your input so much!


If you liked this list of books about cars, trucks and trains, you might like these book lists too:

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  1. OMG! I LOVE ‘The Goodnight Train’ by June Sobel (Author), Laura Huliska-Beith (Illustrator)
    One of my absolute favorites!

    Thank you so much Janssen for this list! Can’t wait to read the new to me titles. :))

  2. My youngest went through a HUGE transportation kick for a few years, and he loved a lot of these. Shark vs. Train was his favorite, but he always called it “Choo Choo Shark.” Some other ones he loved are Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go”, “Bulldozer’s Big Day” by Candace Fleming, “Love is a Truck” by Amy Novesky, “The Mixed-Up Truck” by Stephen Savage, and “Go!Go!Go!Stop!” by Charise Mericle Harper.

  3. My oldest was obsessed with truck/vehicle books, and we read a lot of the books on your list. I loved Mike Mulligan but hated reading a large one we had that was just pictures and descriptions of different vehicles. Unfortunately, my little guy used to want to read that particular book every night. At first I tried to talk him out of it, but I eventually resorted to hiding the book. Then one day we were in the car, and I tried to make polite conversation by asking what kind of construction vehicle we were passing. My normally sweet son replied condescendingly, “That’s an excavator, mommy. You would know that if you ever read the truck book.” He made his point!

  4. The Mixed Up Truck by Stephen Savage is a very popular book at our house. In fact we still refer to cement trucks as mixed up trucks when we see them on the roads.

  5. We love the whole ‘Amazing machines’ series by Tony Mitten and Ant Parker. Cool Cars, Marvellous Motorbikes. Tough Trucks, just to name a few….

  6. Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way are some of the best board books (although maybe they also come in hard or soft cover?) I have read to either of my boys. Fantastic. My almost 2 year old LOVES Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? Just like his older brother did at this age. I’ve read that one countless times since becoming a parent!

  7. Steven Savage’s books are the best! I can read them over and over without wanting to pull my hair out 😂. Super Truck, Mixed Up Truck, and Little Tug are all some favorites of ours too.
    And seconding Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. It’s incredible and gets my oldest through quiet time.

  8. Oh my goodness. For younger kids “Love is a Truck” is so incredibly darling. It captures their little hearts and big love for trucks perfectly!

  9. We found Old McDonald Had a Truck at the library a few years ago and had to add it to our collection. Really cute!

  10. My oldest was obsessed with trucks when he was little. Some of our favorites were Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman, Dig, Dig, Digging by Margaret Mayo (a whole series), Cars, and Trucks, and Things That Go by Richard Scary, Tough Trucks by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker (great rhyming series), and Twenty Big Trucks Stuck in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee (my favorite one). Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown series was also a hit as well as Cynthia Lord’s Hotrod Hamster series.

  11. If you were a garbage truck or other big-wheeled worker! by Diane Ohanesian is a great read aloud and lots of fun.

  12. One of our favorite vehicle books was “Alphabeep: A Zipping Zooming ABC” by Deborah Pearson. It’s a great read-aloud.

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