Gear: These Are The Car Books Your Kids Will Keep Reading

These Are The Car Books Your Kids Will Keep Reading

By Benjamin Shahrabani
December 8, 2015

Have you noticed how children ask for the same book over and over again, sometimes even during the same sitting? Well, there’s a reason for that—they are learning a new language, and repeated readings boost a child’s learning and vocabulary. That’s a very good thing of course, but what is the petrolista father or mother to do to maintain their sanity?

Petrolicious recommends you check out these automotive-themed children’s books. Whether you have a reluctant reader, or bookworm in the making, these books will open your child’s mind to a wonderful hobby that will enrich their lives.

Title: The Little Red Racing Car: A Father Son Car Story
Author: Dwight Knowlton
Publisher: Carpe Viam
Pages: 26 pages

What boy hasn’t dreamed of driving a bona-fide race car? Dwight Knowlton takes the dream one step further, both writing and illustrating this happy tale of a boy and his dad who make a literal barn find—in this case, a 1955 Maserati 300S racer once driven by Stirling Moss—and together, proceed to restore it…once they extract it from the barn, of course.

The author’s illustrations are crisp, colorful, and above all charming, with a vibe reminiscent of a vintage racing poster. The writing is excellent, and will fire up a child’s interest in automotive history.

Title: Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go
Author: Richard Scarry
Publisher: Golden Books
Pages: 72 pages

Richard Scarry is one of the world’s most beloved authors, and has more than 150 books to his name. In Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, he takes children on a virtual tour of various modes of mechanical transportation, both real and imagined, like a pumpkin car and the “Broom-O-Cycle”. While there is a continuous story that spans the entire book, a child (or you) can still get lots of enjoyment by flipping through it in fits and starts.  How is a road made? Will Rollo Rabbit catch his runaway steamroller? What are the firefighters doing? And were is that Goldbug hiding on each page?

Title: If I Built a Car
Author: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Puffin Books
Pages: 40 pages

The concept of this book is the incredible automobile, and everything it can be made to do. Author Chris Van Dusen’s story is an illustrated ’50s-style book about a boy on a mission to build his perfect car. Written in rhyming verse, the illustrations are wonderful, and imaginative, and will provide a perfect jumping off point for you and your child to discuss what you would choose to include (or not to) in your perfect car.

Title: Car Science
Author: Richard Hammond
Publisher: DK Children
Pages: 96 pages

Penned by Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame, Car Science is divided into four sections: power, speed, handling, and technology. It’s packed with plenty of illustrations and pictures, too. The book serves as an introduction to children as to how cars are made, and how they work. While there is a lot of information perhaps better suited for older readers, the book also has plenty of material for younger readers (and pictures!) as well.

Title: The Racecar Alphabet
Author: Brian Floca
Publisher: ALA Notable Children’s Books
Pages: 40 pages

The title of Brian Floca’s The Racecar Alphabet is a bit of a misnomer. If you are expecting an “A is for…”, this book isn’t it, and to its betterment. Instead, this large-format book is a beautifully illustrated book about automobile racing, that happens to be organized by letter. There is a lot of nice history about the different marques, eras, tracks, and personalities— plenty to keep parents engaged—and a great way to teach your kids about the alphabet at the same time.

What are some of the books you read as a child that helped inspire you to become passionate about cars? Please share them with us!


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3 years ago

A really great and interesting article. My friend from homework service, are doing his best to earn some money to get his first car. Also he has a little son, who really loves cars and he dreaming of becoming a professional racer. Soon is his son’s birthday and I think that the best gift for his is a book about cars. So that is why I would like to thank you for this list. I hope that you will continue to sharing this interesting and useful type of content.

David Warr
David Warr(@3dawarr)
6 years ago

The best book I read when I was a kid was , ” The Red Car” .

6 years ago

I 2nd the comment about Go Dogs Go! When driving with my daughter in the car and the traffic light turns green she’ll say, “Go Dogs Go! The light is Green now!”
As a kid we also had a book based on the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” that definitely helped my interest in cars!

6 years ago
Reply to  Brent

I also already have The Little Red Racing Car – bought it the first time I read about it earlier this year . . . great book.

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss(@itsnicolas)
6 years ago

I enjoyed reading CATATTGo to my kids, but man, the calamity that occurs on every page! What a scary universe (misspelled pun intended).

6 years ago

Brian Floca’s illustrations are beautiful — his moon shot book is amazing. I hadn’t seen the racecar one but may need to pick it up.

Go Dogs Go! is awesome. And while not always car-centered, cars feature in a couple of other books by that author (Peter Eastman). They’re super simple but at the time I read them I thought they looked sort of like 50s-era sports cars, especially with the drivers wearing scarves.

6 years ago

Where the heck do you get a copy of Little Red Racing Car? The ones on Amazon are a thousand pounds or four dollars on kindle. I DON’T WANT it on kindle, I’m old fashioned!!!! If the illustrations are as good as they look, I want the real book!!

Wes Flack
Wes Flack(@wesflack)
6 years ago

Go Dog Go!
What could be better than riding in cars to a big party in a tree, really?