Simple yet intricate. Yes, that’s possible when you’re in Donald Crews’ hands. Freight Train isn’t just for train lovers, but is also a vibrant introduction to colors.
Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a child (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1988 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.
Title/author: Freight Train by Donald Crews
Copyright date: 1978
Plot in a Sentence (or two): There’s not exactly a plot here: the parts of a train are introduced and colors named; then the train starts on a journey over a bridge, through tunnels, and on through the night until it is gone.
Why It’s Timeless: The simplicity of this book holds great appeal for young bookworms. This is a great medium for introducing colors and basic vocabulary (caboose, tender, hopper and the like; as well as trestle, bridge, daylight). It’s a quick read (I clocked it under 90 seconds), and it’s always great to have those in your arsenal. This one is part of our short books basket (see how we use this tool here.) Crews’ ability to evoke a sense of movement in his simple illustrations is fabulous.
While You’re Reading: The text is sparse, and the illustrations are award winning (Caldecott Honor!). So, linger on each page. Allow your bookworm to soak in & process the vocabulary as well as the illustrations. Color blending is also shown, and is a great way to talk with older bookworms about how colors combine to create new colors, and the spectrum of colors in the rainbow. (Who can forget good old ROY G. BIV?)
Just for Fun: Read here about how we used scarves to add a layer of fun & kinesthetic learning to our reading of Freight Train. You could also practice color matching with legos, colored blocks, or paper strips. If your older bookworm is interested in color blending, be sure to check out Mix it Up by Herve Tullet. Powered by the reader’s imagination and attention to the artist’s direction, bookworms learn about colors through interactive play.
Books mentioned in this post should be readily available at your local library, or at the Amazon affiliate links provided.