From the Editor: The Unstoppable Power of Children’s Literature


Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany about the power of children’s literature. After reading Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo to my son for what must have been the 10,000th time (and still enjoying it), it occurred to me that by age two (or three at the latest), any child exposed to books knows what a “choo choo” is. This is not altogether remarkable, until you consider that very, very few children have ever seen a “choo choo” in person. This concept comes almost entirely from the books they read!

train sketch
Is there any child who doesn’t know what this is?

Sure, some will have seen diesel freight trains or mass transit trains, but these are not the archetypical image in children’s minds. (Nor is the British tank engine they might have seen on a certain television and movie franchise.) Their concept of a train is the 4-4-0 “American”-type steam locomotive, with the huge inverted-cone smoke stack atop a cylindrical boiler and a wedge-shaped “cow catcher” out front. It’s my firm belief that this image, inscribed so deeply and so early in a child’s mind, comes not from any direct experience, but entirely from books!

I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter, especially the list of great books about trains. Like the mighty engines they feature, these books are incredibly powerful!

Thanks for reading,

Andy Spinks, Editor

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