Friday, October 17, 2014

The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper {1930}


The Little Engine that Could can be such an enjoyable family reading experience- the various trains just beg for funny voices to fit their characters, and the colorful pictures are total eye candy.

I grew up with the version illustrated by George and Doris Hauman, so I tend to prefer that edition for nostalgia's sake. However we've checked out the newer edition illustrated by Loren Long from the library, and my three year old likes it very much. Either way, you can't go wrong with this classic tale.

The two of us with our respective editions :)
Plot. A train carrying toys and food for the little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain breaks down. Who will bring these goodies to all the children? When all hope is lost, rescue comes from an unexpected {and unlikely} source.

Author. The saga of The Little Engine that Could is extensive- early versions of the story appeared in print as early as 1906, and key phrases of the story {"I think I can"} came in a 1902 article of a Swedish journal (source). Watty Piper is a pen name of Arnold Munk, owner of the publishing firm Platt and Munk, who published the famed version we are all familiar with, in 1930.

Thematic Elements. It doesn't take the biggest, strongest or best to accomplish a difficult task. Rather, one simply needs a willing and helpful heart, with a can-do-it attitude. The text also highlights the ugliness of self-importance, conceit, and selfishness. A Biblical parallel that comes to mind is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Reading this book, then the parable from your Bible, can be the springboard for great discussions with your child about loving and serving others with humility.

Educational Opportunities. While there aren't many mathematical, scientific, or English lessons to be had in this story, it conveys much education in laws of kindness and hard work- life skills we all need to develop. You could also use it as a starting point for learning more about trains {if your children show extra interest}.

Activities. 
Other Resources. There is a fun read-aloud version on YouTube. 

Be sure to also check out... For all of your little train lovers, Thomas the Train is a classic series to dig into!


Looking for more great books to read with your preschooler? Check out the rest of this 31 Days series here!

Some of the links above are affiliate links- which means that if you make a purchase through them, I receive a small profit at no extra charge to you. But you should know that I am an avid believer in reading for free through both local and church libraries ;). Thanks for supporting The Purposeful Wife!

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