September 2014


The Little Engine that Could

Watty Piper

The Little Engine that Could shares the story of a train filled with toys and gifts for little boys and girls that breaks down before reaching the children. After asking several passing trains for help over the hill, a little blue train agrees to help the stranded toys. Even though she is small, the blue train tries her best to bring the toys to the children on the other side of the hill.


  1. What lessons can be learned from the The Little Engine that Could, and the Little Blue Engine’s chant, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”? Why do you think Dolly Parton selected this book as the first book for children to receive through the Imagination Library?

  2. Trains serve as the main characters in The Little Engine that Could. What do you already know about trains? Have you ever seen or ridden on a train? Did you know that trains carry many things besides people? Start to notice the many different types of transportation around you, including trains, buses, cars and bikes. Take a minute to think about their different uses and how they work.

  3. The Little Blue Engine perseveres through many challenges to deliver toys to boys and girls on the other side of the mountain. The clown and other toys also face challenges in their quest to get over the mountain. Talk to your family about challenges that might be hard for you to face and why these things are difficult. How can you apply the Little Blue Engine’s attitude to your life to help overcome challenges?

  4. This book was first published in the United States in 1930 during a time called The Great Depression, a severe worldwide economic depression that lasted for more than a decade. Think about what life might have been like for families living during this time. Why do you think the values highlighted in the book, including hard work and optimism, might have been very important for readers at the time it was published?

  5. If you enjoyed reading The Little Engine that Couldvisit your local public library or look through your book selection at home to reread books you enjoyed as a beginning reader. When you reread books, you can discover a new lessons, new words, or deeper meanings behind a story.