May 13 – National Train Day


About the Holiday

It’s hard not to love the train. With its storied past and iconic whistle, train travel is imprinted in our minds as a fun, efficient way to get from here to there and back again. Today’s holiday was established to commemorate the May, 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad, a feat that united America as nothing else had done. Suddenly, distances didn’t seem as far, and those seeking a new life out West or wanting to visit family back East had a safe, quick way of spanning the miles.

Traveling By Train: a Want to Know the World Book

Written by Pierre Winters | Illustrated by Tineke Meirink


Sam loves playing with his train set and is excited to be going on a real train ride. At the station, he loves all the hustle and bustle of people getting off and on trains. When his train pulls up, he “quickly gets in and looks for a place to sit. The train is about to depart! Are you coming too?” Train lovers will definitely want to get “aaall aboard” this tour of all things railroad related.

The first stop is a quick look at trains old and new. Kids learn about steam trains and how they worked by burning coal. Next up readers discover diesel trains before moving on to today’s electric and high-speed trains, which are “really fast. They sometimes drive nearly two hundred miles per hour. That’s three times faster than a car on the highway.” Where are these trains? Everywhere! Trains provide transportation all over the world and come in all shapes and sizes. There are trains that carry people, freight trains that “transport goods,” subway trains that move people from place to place in big cities, and even trains that travel through an underwater tunnel between England and France.


Image copyright Tineke Meirink, text copyright Pierre Winters. Courtesy of Clavis Publishing

All of these trains require an engineer to drive them; a signaller, who “sets the switches and makes all the traffic lights turn green or red; a conductor who helps passengers get on and off and checks their tickets; and maintenance workers who “make sure the trains and tracks are in good shape.”

But what about the trains themselves? Readers can go inside a carriage where they see the seats, the luggage rack, the doors between cars, the bathroom, and even the roof and undercarriage. Want to ride? Kids learn all about buying a ticket and how important it is to get to the station on time so they don’t miss the train.

Of course, there are many kinds of trains, depending on where they go and what they are used for. Passenger trains that travel long distances requiring a multi-day trip have “bedrooms, restaurants, and little shops. They are like hotels on wheels!” In some countries the trains can get so crowded that people hang off the sides or ride on the roof. In Japan some very modern trains don’t have a driver. “A computer knows exactly when everyone has gotten on and where the station is. Other trains don’t even use wheels anymore. Thanks to very powerful magnets, they float just above the ground!”


Image copyright Tineke Meirink, text copyright Pierre Winters. Courtesy of Clavis Publishing

Train stations are growing more and more modern. Some are made entirely of glass, and buying tickets and checking on arrivals and departures are all computerized. The biggest trains station in the world is in America, in New York City. It has forty-four platforms and sixty-seven tracks.

Readers will love the double fold-out spread in the center of the book that takes them into the midst of a busy station where trains wait on the tracks, ready to carry passengers on new and thrilling journeys. Following the text, train-related activities continue the fun. They include a poem, step-by-step instructions for drawing a train, directions for making a conductor’s whistle, matching games, and a mini-quiz.

Pierre Winters’ easy-to-understand, yet engaging text invites kids to explore one of the world’s most-used and best-loved methods of travel. Interesting facts presented in a conversational style will entice children to keep chugging through this well-conceived book and will pique their interest in traveling by train themselves.

Tineke Meirink’s bright, colorful illustrations offer readers close-up views of trains, inside and out, as well as the station control center and lively stations full of passengers and those waiting to meet them. Children will want to linger over the double-page spread to catch all the action and details.

For children who love trains or those taking their first trip, Traveling by Train is a wonderful introduction for young adventurers.

Ages 4 and up

Clavis Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373409

National Train Day Activity


All Aboard! Word Search Puzzle


Traveling by train is such fun! Get on board this printable All Aboard! Word Search Puzzle and find the 21 train-related words! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review