What kid hasn’t gone through a train phase. They carry toy trains around everywhere, they want to hear train themed books read night after night (day after day) and the sight of a train chugging along, well! Stop the stroller, it’s time to watch the endless line of cars make its way down the tracks.
And I mean, what’s not to love? Trains go places, they make cool noises, come in all shapes and sizes and best of all, there is always an adventure waiting at the end of the line. So hitch up one of these train gifts to the holiday engine and your youngest engineer will never want to get off the ride.
I’ve only recommended items for this gift guide that we have experience with, or own ourselves. This is an unsponsored gift guide; products links below are affiliate links.
Train. This brand new book by Elisha Cooper is getting a lot of use in our house. It follows various trains across the country on their journey. Cooper’s trademark attention to detail makes this book a real treat. I love how it opens up wide so the trains really stretch across the pages.
Old Tracks New Tricks by Jessica Peterson. A refreshing change from all those tedious Thomas the Train books. A trio of tracks with friendly faces teach their friends how much fun being creative can be. Delightful.
Locomotive. I am waiting for an upcoming book fair to actually purchase this book; we’ve had it checked out from the library for a while. Oversized, with loads of detail, stunning illustrations and no shortage of addictive train noises, this book follows an 1869 transcontinental journey. It’s one of the few books out there that is good for both preschoolers and older kids and is immensely satisfying for kids with a train obsession.
How to Train a Train. This is a humorous look at what it might be like if kids kept trains as pets. What things would you need to take into consideration when taking care of a train? Does it like warm baths? A gentle goodnight story? An afternoon snack? This book will answer all those pressing questions — and more. It’s also an oversized book, which is great for kids who like to sprawl out on the floor to examine their picture books independently.
Steam Train, Dream Train. This is the followup companion to the best selling Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. An animal crew loads freight on a train before it takes a special night time journey.
The Best Book of Trains. This is a short, non-fiction book that has been poured over by both my kids. Its main appeal lies in the photographs of numerous kinds of trains. It includes all the train facts you can possibly memorize as well as a history of locomotives and diesels.
Here’s the thing – Thomas is cool and all that, but if you really want to make an impression on a play date, you must have Wooden Railway NYC Subway Cars, preferably one for each line. Not that I know any kids who have dozens of NYC wooden subway trains. Ahem. Not a NYC fan? (I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.) Try a NJ Transit Locomotive, LIRR: Long Island Rail Road Train Cars, Metro North Rail Road, Chicago ‘L’ Train or a SEPTA Regional Rail train car. Not that we have any of those, either. Ahem. Ahem. What can I say, we are train-cool.
Brio Signal Station. My kids don’t have a lot of bells and whistles for their tracks but they do have a Brio station. Ours is slightly different than this one (I guess they keep changing the models) and it is nice to have at least one little extra add on to the standard tracks.
We have a classic Train Whistle but it is not easy for kids under the age of 3 or 4 to blow. It makes a great sound though.
Train Stickers. Who doesn’t like stickers? New Kid likes to add stickers into his writing journal and they make a frugal stocking stuffer.
Wooden Train Track. I don’t have any experience with this particular track set, since we got our tracks at IKEA. This is the most economical set I could find that is compatible with name brands and the reviews are great. Can’t have trains without a track, right?
Thomas The Tank Engine. I’m afraid, that these days it’s just not childhood with a Thomas train. If you are lucky, you can supply your child with a wooden Thomas train and avoid reading the awful Thomas picture books. (Choose one of the above selections instead!)
Train Puzzles and Games:
Train Floor Puzzle. I sort of miss doing large scale floor puzzles with the kids, although sometimes I was jumping over them for days before we finally picked them up!
Melissa & Doug Train Sound Puzzle. We had a slightly different version of this puzzle. It makes sounds when you place the pieces but unlike many battery powered toys, the noises are brief and unobtrusive. Needless to say, the boys loved it.
Rivers, Roads And Rails Players take turns matching tiles to create a network of roads, rails and rivers. I love that both my kids (ages 4 and 8) enjoy it and it can be played competitively or cooperatively. Learn more about it at my game of the month feature.
Ticket To Ride. We love this train themed games. It’s best for ages 8 and up but the whole family will love playing it train nut or not!
More useful gift guides:
- STEM toys and book combinations
- Math gifts kids will actually want!
- Star Wars gifts that promote learning (say what?)