I was never a car person and construction vehicles were not at all interesting either , until I became a mom. My son’s first word after Mama was Bama which we soon discovered meant garbage truck, after that Didder which was digger and so on and so on. It didn’t take long before I could tell a grader from a front loader and could hear the garbage truck from 2 blocks away so we’d never miss it. In those years of his obsession we read a lot of books about cars and trucks here are our favorites.
The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra and Sal Barraca is a about a stray dog in New York City who is rescued by a taxi driver and spend the rest of his days riding in the front seat soaking up the diversity of their fares. The rhyming text, and detailed illustrations by Marc Buehner work well together to make this a fun read .
Machines at Work by Byron Barton is a bold and bright book that is perfect for toddlers who are obsessed with construction vehicles. The text is brief but effective. My son loved this book as an infant and at 2 still enjoys reading it, aw well as counting the workers and trucks on each page.
Sputter, Sputter, Sput! by Babs Bell is all about a little car that zooms – until it starts to sputter! What could be causing that? It’s out of gas! The story is simple but the illustrations take it from basic story to a quirky and fun book. The concept of up and down is reinforced multiple times but with fresh and fun illustrations by Bob Staake each time. My son enjoyed this book but it was a quick read, I think it would have been a favorite a year ago though, it was a little simple for him now at 3 1/2. It’s definitely worth a look to see the illustrations !
The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race by Stan and Jan Berenstain shouldn’t be overlooked. I really enjoy this book but not as much as my son who has begged for it every day before nap this week. It’s a good story about being persistent and they sneak lots of learning into the rhyming text. Colors, opposites and more can be reinforced by this retelling of the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare.
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia was an instant classic in our house. My son loves vehicles and this book was the perfect length with the right amount of text and awesome almost Eric Carle like illustrations. Usually books about vehicles just name the trucks and diggers but this book shows children not only what they do but how they can work together to make something. Great book for the digger and backhoe obsessed!
The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon is a fresh twist on the classic Three Little Pigs with trucks instead of pigs. My son ate this book up, he loved it. The “wolf” in the story is a wrecking ball that smashes and crashes the Little Rigs garages, I thought he was a little scary but after reading the book I asked my son his favorite part and sure enough he said the wrecking ball. I loved the illustrations and was not surprised one bit to read that the author/illustrator has done work for Pixar.
Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a birthday gift for my son in November and he was not interested at first. Maybe because of the plethora of lego that was taking over our house – however, it has since become such a favorite he recently “read” it to my sister’s dog. It’s a story all about how a road is built , explaining what the crew does, and how each type of construction vehicle has a different role in building a road. I like that it explains the process from start to finish, in just the right level of detail for preschoolers. I also like that there is a female crew member and her participation is seamless .
Cars: Rushing! Honking! Zooming! by Patricia Hubbell has a fun retro look and is a whimsical look at all sorts of cars , places they go and who drives them. Like her book Trucks, the drivers in this book aren’t always conventional, or human. My son thinks it’s hilarious that zebras, ducks, and other animals are driving cars alongside humans. I love the rhyming text that never feels forced and zooms along with the illustrations.
Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble! by Patricia Hubbell was another hit with my son. The book is about all the trucks that one can find on the road, from armored trucks to diggers and of course garbage trucks! My son is a huge garbage truck fan and was elated when there wasn’t just one but two in this book! The text rhymes and chugs along well with the whimsical collaged illustrations by Megan Halsey. Many of the drivers in the book are animals and when I asked my son if elephants really drive trucks he looked at me seriously and said “Sometimes they do!” , regardless of my son’s take on reality he really enjoyed this book, and if your child is as into trucks as he is they will too.
When Daddy’s Truck Picks Me Up by Jana Novotany Hunter is not so much a book about trucks as it is about trust in your parents. A little boy is excited to see his dad who is a truck driver and away from home often, today is the day he comes to preschool to pick him up, or maybe not. What I like about this book is that your child gets to see that the dad is eager to get to the school to see his little guy as much as the little boy is eager to see his dad. Sadly sometimes even when parents try to get there on time they just aren’t, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get there as soon as they can and still love you . I can say that in all my years of teaching classes a late parent was almost a daily event, and while it was nothing to us teachers a young child is thrown for a loop! I think this book is a wonderful resource for parents to talk about the possibility of this happening.
My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck is slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.
Everything I Know About Cars: A Collection of Made-Up Facts, Educated Guesses, and Silly Pictures about Cars, Trucks, and Other Zoomy Things
by Tom Lichtenheld is hilarious! I grabbed it at the library today knowing I would need some car books to pair with this activity and didn’t preview it at all. All I knew is that it was a book about cars I had never read. At nap when I finally opened it with my son in his car Pjs- I realized it’s very long, and probably more appropriate for 4+. I didn’t put it down though because after reading “A collection of made-up facts, Educated Guesses and silly pictures about Cars, Trucks and other Zoomy things” on the first page I was hooked. The author had me at zoomy things. My son only made it through the first few pages, but I couldn’t wait to open it back up after he was asleep. The book takes the readers through the history of cars ( totally made up) , the basics of road trips, kid designed cars – and ends with a tutorial on how the reader can draw their own made-up car. I really liked this book and plan to buy a copy for my 4and 7 year old nephews who will love the humor ( yes some of it is potty humor) and the illustrations.
Trucks Go by Steve Light is a new find for us. I spotted this board book from across the library during preschool story time today. There were kids everywhere and I was not sure that I would get to it before someone else did. I kept my composure, didn’t have to elbow a single person and popped it in my bag. The minute of worry was worth it, what an awesome book! The illustrations are so beautiful that I would seriously consider framing every page. The book goes through different trucks ( garbage truck, cement mixer, fire engine etc..) and the sounds they make. My son was laughing and repeating the sounds while we read this at bedtime and enjoyed the water color illustrations almost as much as I did. Grab this one as I did.
Trucks Roll! by George Ella Lyon got a huge compliment from my son today when we read it. When he really really wants more of something not only does he ask for it with words but the sign language he learned so long ago comes out. This book got the “More Trucks!” out loud and the frantic more signs! The book is the perfect length for 2-4 year olds who like my son love anything you can drive. It also explains well what trucks drivers do and how so many things make it from one place to the next. Cute book, worth a read for sure!
I Stink! by Kate and Jim McMullen was the bain of my existence in my Pre-K class, the kids loved this book and I really liked most of it, but there are some gross things in it like puppy poo, dirty diapers, and kitty litter but we put all those things in the garbage so they are totally appropriate. Just know that they will also get a group of 4 and 5 year olds giggling and repeating the words for days on end. Overall though the book is effective and I own a well read copy. The garbage truck is sarcastic and rough, and the alphabet of garbage is creative.
The Truck Book by Harry McNaught is another favorite in our house, mostly because it has a forklift in it. There isn’t much of a story, instead, it’s a collection of labeled illustrations. If your child is like mine and loves , no obsesses over things that move this is a fantastic book. I admit I get bored reading it even if my son doesn’t. To fight that boredom we play I spy and both of us are happy.
Cool Cars by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker is a bright little book that talks about all different types of cars and even a little bit about the rules of the road in a zippy rhyming text! This author and illustrator pair have made a number of wonderful books that both my kids have enjoyed from early toddlerhood on. Completely worth checking out anything they do!
The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore is a rare book, it’s rare because it is a story about self esteem clothed in a truck book. The street sweeper isn’t the biggest, the fastest or the most powerful truck but it’s still mighty and proud. I really like this book, we read it before nap and again before bed and I liked it even more the second time. The message about being happy with who you are is really touching. I liked that the book says that you don’t have to be the best at everything to still be proud of your hard work. My son really enjoyed this book as well and it was excited to read it again at bedtime.
Construction Countdown by K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here! <– That was written in 2008 and now over 2 years later my son still likes this book and has grown with it, now doing the counting all by himself.
Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation-themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list.
I’m a Truck by Dennis Shealy is about Big Blue Bill a big rig on his way from the Big Tuna to the Big Apple! As he travels along the highway, stops at trucks stops, and runs into road construction he visits with his truck friends. Most every type of truck is covered in this book and the illustrations by Bob Staake are so detailed that you can spend extra time just finding things on each page. All the trucks are anthropomorphized and some hilariously so. I am quite fond of a logging truck named Leif who had a beard and toque ( winter cap for non Canadians ) , he makes me giggle. My son loves the part where Big Blue Bill is stuck in city traffic behind a garbage truck who is stinky! The text is a good length and I have a feeling this will be a favorite for a while at our house.
I Love Trucks! by Philoemen Sturges is about all sorts of trucks from firetrucks, bulldozers, ice cream trucks and of course garbage trucks! Each page has simple text that gives a brief description of the main action each truck does like roll, dump, dig, etc. My son eats this book up even though he enjoys much longer books as well. The illustrations by Shari Halpern (who also illustrated many others of this author’s ) are bright bold and have a cartoon like quality that grabs young children’s attention.
Truck Driver Tom by Monica Wellington is one of my son’s picks. The story is simple, Tom and his puppy drive produce from the farm to the market and see the country side and much more along the way. The best part of this book are the fun bright and detailed illustrations, there is a wide variety of trucks, cars , emergency and construction vehicles! Also it’s a great lesson about how our food gets from the farm to us.
Truck Stuck by Sallie Wolf was an awesome find. It immediately reminded me of “One Duck Stuck” by Phyllis Root and that is not a bad thing at all! The rhyming text is fun and the illustrations made me giggle, especially the Elvis impersonator in a pink Cadillac! My son was so impressed with this book, I was able to negotiate my reluctant eater to finish his lunch if I read it one more time . That speaks volumes!
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha is my favorite garbage truck book , and yes I have read a lot. Mr. Gilly is a hard working garbage man with one task, to clean up Trashy town. The text is so melodic I find myself singing while reading “Dump it in, Smash it down, drive around the trashy town”. It’s not all trashy time for Mr. Gilly though after a hard days work cleaning up Trashy town he gets into his bubble bath ! My son loves that this big garbage collector has a bath just like him. A super sweet and colorful book that explains garbage collection in a nice way.The links in this post include affiliate links.
Great post, thanks!
Thank you thank you thank you!!! love this list! and here I thought I’d read just about every car or truck book there is. Totally not my thing until, like you I became a mommy…now even I get excited when I pass a construction zone!
Alex @ teachthroughplay.blogspot.com
Great post! These are all wonderful truck books for kids!!
Melissa Taylor @imaginationsoup says
WOW – you put so much work into this post and have the motherlode of truck and car books!! I love the books you chose, thanks!
I would love to add Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry. Really, it is a great one!
I loved this post. We have read a lot of these books, but we are always looking for new ones. With three little boys there can never be enough books on cars and trucks. Can I also recommend I Am A Backhoe. My boys love it!
Great list! I have to also recommend truck duck. The whole book rhymes and while it’s incredibly simple, it’s hilarious.
I’ll check it out!
Julie Duffield says
Awesome! Some we have read and some new ones to add to our collection. A must read is Truckery Rhymes by Jon S. (same author as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs). He takes nursery rhymes and makes them truck related.
Love these! There are a few we’ve not read yet but now have ordered them from our library. We also recently discovered Big Truck and Little Truck by Jan Carr that we’ve really loved. Thanks for the list!
Great list, we’ve read a few of these! Can I suggest another great one to add to the list? Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. It has beautiful folksy illustrations by Jill McElmurry, and tells of the importance of friendship and helping others. There are lots of farm animals and the sounds they (and the trucks) make throughout!
Great list, Thanks! I will also add Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site to that list. We love it!
I love this list – thanks! My son also loves ‘garbage twucks’… We also have The little Blue Truck and highly recommend it. Also would recommend any of the Margaret Mayo books – Dig Dig Digging, Emergency Emergency and Choo Choo Clickety Clack – these are brilliant!
Dig Dig Digging was read so much in our house when my son was 18m-3.5 that I still know it off by heart and yet somehow I never reviewed it?! I love it and so do kids. The Emergency vehicle one is great too. Thank you!
Colleen Kelly Mellor says
Grandpa and the Truck: Tales (for Kids) by a Long-Haul Trucker is first of its kind–stories by a real, big rig driver, as he traveled the United States for 30 years…geared to little ones 4-8 years old (you know, a trucker’s biggest fan club.) We’re new, too. First book out last summer, second in October, third after the new year. A collaborative effort by the actual real-life trucker with his published author/retired 30 year teacher wife, test-driven on their three little grandkids. Our tag line: “We teach geography…and a whole lot more.” You see, the big rig goes through every state (but one) and stories incorporate geographic and regional differences, historical events (Woodstock Music Festival is backdrop for one), power of nature, human diversity and goodness…amazing life lessons. There’ll even be one story called “Grandpa Does the Math” showing how truckers need use math skills. Book 2 has “Girl Truckers” highlighting two women who made the men in this predominantly all-male industry sit up and notice (due to their skills.) We’re getting lots of buzz: Just named “Cool Gifts” by international trucking association, OOIDA’s Landline magazine going out to 200,000 truckers and their families.; we’re doing national radio interviews. Wholesome, fun, and comprised of many teachable aspects (each story has Lesson as focus, Question page, Trucker Terms (fun!), Maps (so kids learn other-than-GPS knowledge of our land and follow the big rig on its journeys,) we’re getting lots of industry buzz…
This is a great list. I linked to it on my own website. Keep up the good work!
Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for when I googled toddler books about cars and trucks.
Allison McDonald says
yeahhhhh..i feel you.i can now distinguish a crane from a backhoe from a bulldozer from a tractor..thanks to my son… haha.. i searched children story books about vehicles and your site came up.thank you for your suggestions 🙂
I know this is an old post but I feel the need to recommend this book although it’s similar to My Truck is Stuck. The wonderfully illustrated book is called The Little Blue Truck. It’s about farm animals and the Little Blue Truck getting together to help a bossy Dump Truck from being stuck in the mud. This book is quite lengthy for a board book but I introduced it to him at 3 months and I memorized the book entirely from reading it to him from 3 months to this day. Now he’s 18 months old. The text rhymes and it teaches what sound the farm animals make but also has a great message about how you should treat others.
Allison McDonald says
YES! Wonderful book – I have read it but never reviewed it, your review it perfect!
Thank you so much for sharing this list! This is awesome! My little boy would love these!
I used to LOVE car books when I was young, thank you for sharing these 🙂