Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

Written by: Kevin Lewis

Illustrated by: Daniel Kirk

Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Let your little one explore the cover and illustrations. If your child is slightly older, ask simple questions that will get him/her to engage with the images on the page. Ask, "What is that in the picture? Can you point to the train? Where do you think the train is going? Can you see the wheels on the train?"

For younger children, point to and describe the things that you see in the illustrations. Say things like, "Wow, that is a really big train! I see 1,2,3,4 big red wheels on this train. There is a giraffe, a queen, a ladybug and a cowboy. They are all waving to the engineer, that's the person that drives the train!"

As You Read

Sing the Story

This book has wonderfully simple, rhythmic text so feel free to make up your own melody and turn the story into a song! It will be more audibly entertaining for your child and could be the perfect lullaby to sing your little one off to sleep. 

Vocabulary Building and Making Connections

Move your finger across the page with each word that you read and be sure to make connections between the text and the illustrations. For example, when reading "Engine black and red caboose", point to the engine and say "Here is the engine, it really is black. And the caboose is allllll the way at the end, and it is red."

Let older children tell you what they see and encourage them to make observations throughout the story by asking, "What are some things that you see in this picture?"

After Reading

Summarize and Discuss

Talk to your child about the story, regardless of whether or not s/he understands or can verbally respond. This will help build good reading habits as your child watches you contemplate the book beyond the written text. Ask slightly older children questions like, "Did you like the story? Which picture was your favorite? Why was it your favorite? Can you point to the engine?"


Activity: Train Role Play

Inspired by Heidi K.

Supplies: several plastic bins and rope or velcro


Create a miniature train right in your home with this fun and easy activity! 

  1. Line up your plastic bins in a row to create the cars of the train. Make sure that your little on can fit into one of the bins!
  2. Connect the bins using a rope or velcro strips. Your job is to act as the engine and drag your little one around while s/he enjoys the ride! You can move around the room and the rest of your home, picking up and dropping off toys and household items along the way. Make lots of train sounds and be sure to name all of the things that you are putting into the bins as you go. Also, describe where you are and where you are going. Say "Chooooo Choooooo, all aboard! This train is making its way from the kitchen into the living room. Let's make a stop here to pick up ________!" 


Parent's Corner

It's very important to start building your child's vocabulary and literacy from a young age, and the great thing is that it's not that hard to start! As your little one begins speaking and stringing together words to convey his/her thoughts and desires, be sure to build on what s/he is saying. For example, if your child says "more milk", say "You want more milk? Ok, I will get you some more milk." helping him/her better understand how language is used. Also, be sure to always have coloring and drawing supplies around for your child to use as s/he pleases. This will provide a foundation for writing as s/he begins pretending to write things using scribbly lines.

(Source: Zero to Three)