Steam Train, Dream Train

Steam Train Dream Train

Story Summary

Familiar animals work to load up a train before taking off on a journey into the night. 

Is your child a fan of Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site? Same author, same style. If your child loved Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site, this is the perfect opportunity to stretch a line from an old favorite right into a new story. Steam Train, Dream Train is a wonderful addition to any collection of good night books.

Talk Before Reading

Look at our new book! Do you remember Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site? The author wrote another book: Steam Train, Dream Train. What do you think this story is about?

Yes, I used the word “author” intentionally! Although not necessarily a word you would think to use with a young child, using a new word–in context and over time–builds understanding.

Take a few minutes to look at the cover and some of the pictures. If your child is now talking about trains–perfect! Maybe your child has seen trains in action, has some toy trains, or has read about trains in other books. Ask him to tell you something he knows about trains.

Talk While Reading

Lots of rhythm and rhyme fill this book. Give an emphasis to the rhythm when reading aloud to help your child see and feel the train pounding down the track:

Through the darkness, clickety-clack

coming closer, down the track…

hold your breath so you can hear

huffing, chuffing drawing near.

This pictures can be used in a variety of ways to help your child use his own words to connect with the pictures and the words of the story. Animal names, toys, action words, train car types--it’s all here.

The first time you read the book, he might focus on the animals. Another time, the toys might catch his attention.

The animal helpers aren’t mentioned by name, but ask your young listener to say the animal words. Point to the picture and ask your child the animal names (monkey, rabbit, camel, giraffe, kangaroo and more) and to describe what they are doing. Which toys does he like best? Fill in with your language, as needed.

Look at all those kangaroos! They like to jump up and down in the load of bouncing balls!

Talk Later

Train Talk. Next time you see a train, ask: What book does that remind you of? 

Use some of the train car words from the book: boxcar, hopper, tanker, reefer, gondola, autotrack, well car, flatbed.

I wonder what could be inside that boxcar? What’s your idea?

I see a hopper car. What’s it filled with?  Yes, looks like lots of black rocks. That’s called coal.

Toy Talk. Encourage some imaginative play with some toy trains. What can you put in your steam train? Your child may follow the example of the animal crew in the book and look for toys–or he may come up with some completely new ideas about what a train might carry!

No toy trains around? Borrow a couple of pairs of shoes from whomever has the biggest feet in the house and tie the ends of the laces together (but not too tightly!) to make a temporary train. Add some small toys for this shoe train to carry around the house.


Dream Train, Steam Train coming through!


Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books. 2013.

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