Children’s topic books about transport. This list of books for children aged 5-11 in primary school years 1-6 in KS1 and KS2 contains recommended topic books to appeal to all reading abilities. We have picked a range of picture books, nonfiction and children’s novels to read aloud, discuss in groups, or individually, or as an impetus for discussion in geography, science, STEM, during class time or book clubs. This list of reading suggestions is revised regularly and includes nonfiction and stories by Uijung Kim, Emily Hawkins, Giles Chapman, Vivian French, Vashti Hardy, and Ian Fleming.
Transport – Our recommended children’s books
Big Book of Boats by Luogo comune
There are big boats, small boats, boats from history, boats from stories, boats from around the world, boats for exploring, boats for war, boats for travel, boats to live in and boats for worship and ceremony. This is a truly fascinating large-format book that can’t fail to surprise and inform every reader through a sheer variety of riveting facts and illustrations. A marvellous read that’s perfect for primary school libraries.
Mash-Up Machines: Obstacle Attack! By Ty Bird and NS Blackman
Lexie and Jace would never dream of cheating in the all-electric Mash-Up Machines racing competition. But they’re not so sure about Deesol Dragg with his expensive supercar. This fun and action-packed first-chapter book will appeal to children in years 2-4 who love fast cars and fixing things.
William Bee’s Wonderful World of Things That Go! by William Bee
Covering every type of truck from fuel tankers and fire engines to tractors and combine harvesters this is the ultimate book for young vehicle lovers. The easy to read font and accessible text set to bold and intricate line work illustrations is a winning combination. There’s also one of William Bee’s toy rabbits cleverly hidden on each page. Can you find them all? This glorious hardback would make a wonderful gift for children aged 6-10 or a perfect book to share in primary school and classroom libraries. Guaranteed to keep KS1 children and reluctant readers in lower KS2 engrossed for months, it’s also an ideal text for teachers looking for visual comprehension material that doesn’t involve complex words.
Professor Wooford McPaw’s History of Cars by Elliot Krusynski
This lively and vibrant hardback combines cartoon strips with a tour through time exploring the worldwide history of motor vehicles, all hosted by the engaging dog expert Professor Woofard McPaw. With lots of short bursts of facts, details and statistics, this book is bound to appeal to reluctant readers in KS2. Highly recommended for years 3&4.
Who’s Driving by Leo Timmers
An eyecatching and colourful board book that asks the reader to choose which of an unlikely group of creatures would drive a particular vehicle. Visual clues from the animals’ outfits and accessories help develop children’s visual comprehension. This is a fun book to read and discuss with EYFS children, and a useful book to encourage younger readers to slow down and examine the illustrations and text. The safari hippo is definitely a highlight.
Underground: Subways Around the World by Uijung Kim
A tremendously fun look at ten different subway systems around the world – Beijing, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, and Tokyo. Each double-page spread depicts the underground system with funky stylised graphics, facts, and statistics. A flap reveals a series of objects unique to that country for the reader to spot amongst the throng of travellers. An ideal book to share for children aged 4-9.
Convertible: Race Car by Amy Johnson
A great concept series where the book unfolds and reconfigures as a vehicle that the 2-4 year old toddler can sit inside. There’s plenty of interest in the colourful pictures and racing car story to look at and share, but nothing beats getting inside and pretending to drive.
The Train to Impossible Places by PG Bell
A captivating fantasy story – ideal for children in year four and five – that revolves around a fantastical train which travels to magic lands filled with peril and danger. A good book to use as an impetus for creative writing.
Amazing Transport by Tom Jackson and Chris Mould
A fascinating series of timelines that tell the story and the development of transport through the ages – including Viking longships, the Montgolfier brothers’ balloon, a Japanese bullet train, and Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 rocket. Great for KS2.
Trains (What’s Inside?) by David West
A fascinating book that looks at every aspect of a train in meticulous cross-sectioned detail. With accessible text and lots of labelled pictures, this book is ideal for reluctant readers in KS2 who want to understand the mechanical workings of a train.
How Airports Work by Lonely Planet Kids
A riveting guide to all the process and inner workings of an airport, including baggage carousels, the maintenance hangar, the control tower, preparing an airliner for flight, and a detailed history of airports. Ideal for KS2 classes.
All Aboard the Voyage of Discovery by Emily Hawkins and Tom Adams
A spectacular large-format hardback which places the reader onboard the Discovery, an ocean liner from 1927. The book is designed as a detective puzzle, with the reader tasked with using clues to solve the mystery amidst a wealth of Art Deco details, double-page spreads, and lift-up flaps. Perfect for children in years 5 and 6.
The Boy Who Biked the World: On the Road to Africa by Alastair Humphreys
Ideal for reluctant readers in upper KS2 and lower KS3, this enthralling story follows Tom, a boy who wants to travel everywhere and see everything, using a bicycle as transport. A real page-turner and great for anyone interested in cycling.
The Story of Flight by Jakob Whitfield and Us Now
A gorgeous book that examines different periods of flight through beautifully realised double-page spreads filled with stunning artwork – including WW2, the history of cabin crew, and flying as a fashion. With detailed yet accessible text, this book is ideal for upper KS2 and lower KS3.
The Car Book by Giles Chapman
An incredibly comprehensive history of cars told through a collection of developmentally important vehicles. Each amazing car is described through stunning photography, precise text and performance stats. A must-have for car fans aged 9-13.
Brightstorm: A Sky-Ship Adventure by Vashti Hardy
Twins Arthur and Maudie travel to the South Polaris on a fantastic flying ship to try and find their lost father and redeem the family reputation. A gripping and imaginative transport-related story that is ideally suited for class reading in Years 5 and 6.
Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel by Simon Reeve
A history of travel told through spectacular illustrations on every page. The thematic book covers travel through ancient civilisations, trading breakthroughs, key explorers and pioneers, industrial mechanisation, the space age, and iconic travel posters. Exploring history, STEM, politics, geography, art, and culture, this is the perfect cross-curricular transport topic book for upper KS2.
Cycle City by Alison Farrell
In Cycle City, the transport of choice is the bicycle, or tricycle, or unicycle – anything with pedals, a chain, and wheels. When the city plans a parade, invitations for every type of bike must be sent out. Very imaginative and detailed – the factual descriptions of the bikes are wonderful – there’s so much to spot on every page. A great book to inspire artwork, creative and nonfiction writing in KS1 and lower KS2.
The Hundred Decker Bus by Mike Smith
This fun book for EYFS and KS1 tells the story of a bus driver that picks up more and more people on a bus that gets bigger and bigger. Children can create their own versions of the story, and there’s a giant elongated pull out with 100 bus decks at the end of the story. Really useful as an impetus for sequencing and story planning, particularly in groups; and artwork.
Cars, Trains, Ships and Planes: A Visual Encyclopedia to Every Vehicle by DK
A captivating visual history of transport which claims to look at every vehicle ever invented. That’s a lot of cars, trains, bikes, tractors, planes, balloons, helicopters, JCBs, steamrollers, ships, hovercraft, etc. A great book – with well written and accessible text for KS2 children to dip into.
The Steam Whistle Theatre Company by Vivian French
Set in Victorian times, this novel for children aged 9-12 follows the Bottle family theatre troupe which travels across the country by train. Dark and dastardly villains and the threat of financial disaster haunt the family – can young Rose and Charlie prevent disaster and help pull off the first performance? A gripping transport-tinged thriller that will keep Year 6s engaged until the final page.
Into the Unknown by Stewart Ross and Stephen Biesty
A visually spectacular series of cutaways depicting key transport vessels used by famous and important explorers. Including a Viking Knarr, the Apollo 11 lunar module, Marco Polo’s caravan and Piccard’s stratospheric balloon, this is a spellbinding book for children interested in how machines are constructed.
Train (Journey Through the Pages Book) by Mike Vago
An imaginative transport book for EYFS and KS1. Set in America, this picture book features a pull-out train that can be used to follow the journey through mountains, deserts, cities, and prairies. Each double-page includes a line of rhyming poetry to tell the story. A useful impetus for creative writing, narrative journeys and artwork.
At The Garage: A shine-a-light book by Carron Brown
Perfect for EYFS and KS1, this clever book makes use of pictures and facts that can be revealed by shining a torch or holding the page up to a light. More text detail is included on the following page. A great book for children who want to understand what happens when a car goes in for a service.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
The classic story of a magical swimming and flying car with a mind of its own that leads the Pott family into a series of amazing, thrilling and dangerous adventures. Ideal for KS2 and good for inspiring imaginative narrative writing.
Transport topics – useful websites
- Railweek activity packs.
- Global trade lesson plans by the Royal Geographical Society.
- Lesson plans for transport and logistics from the Geographical Association.
- The London Transport Musuem resources and courses for KS1.
- Coventry Transport Museum.
- Transport for London Junior Travel Ambassadors scheme.
- Network Rail transport safety for children in Y1-6.
- Stem.org’s transport topic packs for KS1 and KS2.
Transport magazines for topic work
- The Railway Magazine
- Canal Boat Magazine
- Ships Monthly
- Tractor and Machinery
- Trucking Magazine
- Aviation News
Transport topic videos
Looking for more topic books? Try our books for topics in KS1 and KS2 page.
We also have lists of recommended reading books for children aged 3-11.
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