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Top 10 Children’s Picture Books About Cars, Trucks, and Diggers


Children's picture books about cars, trucks, fire engines, ditch diggers, steam shovels and other equipment seem to particularly appeal to young children. Some of the children's picture books below are classics, while some of the other recommended books are more recent. Most of these picture books are for children six and under, but several are for older children interested in learning more about specific types of vehicles.

1. Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

This large picture book, with its pages and pages of illustrations, in pen and watercolor, of animals driving different vehicles alongside one another is a family favorite. Hundreds of vehicles are depicted. Text includes both captions for each vehicle and short scenarios describing what’s happening. This 69-page children’s picture book by Richard Scarry is a classic. I highly recommend it for 2½ -6 year olds. (Golden Books, 1974. ISBN: 0307157857)
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2. Katy and the Big Snow

Youngsters love the story of Katy, a big red tractor, and how she saves the day when a huge snowstorm hits the city. Katy responds to cries of “Help!” from the police chief, the doctor, the fire chief and others with “Follow me,” and plows the streets to their destinations. The repetition in the story and the appealing illustrations make this picture book by Virginia Lee Burton a favorite with 3-6 year olds. (Houghton Mifflin, 1943. ISBN: 0395181550)
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3. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Virginia Lee Burton’s classic story of Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne is a three generation favorite at our house. Although Mike and his trusty steam shovel had helped build highways and cities, steam shovels are becoming obsolete. How Mike Mulligan’s loyalty to Mary Anne, Popperville’s need for a new town hall, and a little boy’s ingenuity lead to a new life for Mike and Mary Anne makes a very satisfying story for 3-6 year olds. (Houghton Mifflin, 1939. ISBN: 0395169615)
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4. Trashy Town

The residents of Trashy Town are lucky to have Mr. Gilly as their trashman. He takes pride in his work and spends the day going from one place to the next, emptying trash cans and filling up his trash truck. The rhythm, the repetition, and the recurring rhyme, along with the striking artwork and design, make this book an excellent read-aloud for 2 ½ to 6 year olds. The authors are Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. The illustrator is Dan Yaccarino. (HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN: 0060271396)
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5. On the Road

The author and illustrator of this picture book, originally published in England, is Susan Steggall. The text consists of directional phrases, such as “into the tunnel” and “up the hill.” The artwork is captivating – bright cut and torn-paper collages of a family’s journey by car through city traffic and along rural roads to the sea. There are a lot of details to talk about, and 2-5 year olds who enjoy “reading pictures” will particularly enjoy the book. (Kane/Miller, 2005. ISBN: 1929132700)
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6. Fire Truck

This large nonfiction book features 15 two-page spreads, each with multiple color photographs and information about fire trucks and other fire fighting vehicles. It include fire scenes, pumpers, rescue units, airport fire trucks, firefighting planes used to fight forest fires, helicopters, fireboats, and more. The book, which is part of the DK Machines at Work series, was written and edited by Caroline Bingham. I recommend it for 6-12 year olds. (DK Publishing, Inc., 2003 ISBN: 0789492210)
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7. DK Big Book of Race Cars

Subtitled “The Fastest Racing Vehicles in the World,” this 32-page large nonfiction book features striking color photographs by Richard Leeney and information about some amazing race cars. Among the topics featured on the two-page spreads are NASCAR, Rally Car, Dragster, Formula One, Kart, Sports Car, Baja Buggy, and Classic Race Cars. This book by Trevor Lord also includes a glossary and an index. I recommend the book for 8-12 year olds. (Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2001. ISBN: 0789479346)
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8. The Fire Engine Book

This classic Little Golden Book was illustrated by one of my favorite children’s book artists, Tibor Gergely. The brief text and the illustrations capture the excitement of a fire alarm. The fireman rush to get ready and head to the fire in their bright red fire trucks. With fire hoses connected and ladders in place they fight an apartment building fire and save a little dog. Kids 2 ½ -5 years old love this book. (Golden Books, 1950. ISBN: 9780307960245)

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9. Dig Dig Digging

The rhythmic text, with its repetition and alliteration, was written by Margaret Mayo. Alex’s Ayliffe distinctive cut paper collages are featured in double page spreads, each of which emphasizes a particular vehicle. These vehicles include earth movers (diggers), fire engines, tractors, garbage trucks, cranes, transporters, dump trucks, rescue helicopters, road rollers, and bulldozers. This picture book will delight 3-6 year olds. (Henry Holt and Co., 2002. ISBN: 0805068406)
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10. The Good Humor Man

One of the things that makes this book so appealing to many young children is that they have experienced the fun of listening for the sound of the ice cream truck and getting to have an ice cream bar from the ice cream man. As a result, the story seems somewhat familiar to them. This is another classic for 3-5 year olds illustrated by Tibor Gergely. (Golden Books, 1964. ISBN: 0307960293)
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Share Your Favorite Children's Picture Books About Cars, Trucks, and Diggers

What are some of your family's favorite children's picture books about cars, trucks, and diggers? Share your recommendations on the About Children's Books Forum.

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