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The Boxcar Children

post written by Emma Filbrun

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler WarnerTitle: The Boxcar Children
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Major Themes: Orphans
Synopsis: Four children whose parents have died are trying to hide from a grandfather they think dislikes them, and make a home in an abandoned boxcar in the woods.

This has been a favorite book of mine since I was able to read! I must have come across it in the library when I was only about seven, because I can remember reading some of the sequels when I was seven or eight. Now, I’ve had the privilege of reading it to my own children four times! I’m glad that Sonlight curriculum uses The Boxcar Children, which gets me to read it again. My current five-year-old absolutely loved it when I read it to him over the past few weeks.

The story opens with four children looking into a bakery. They tell the baker and his wife that their parents are dead, and they are wandering around. They spend the night in the bakery—until they hear the baker’s wife telling her husband that they will send the youngest to the orphanage in the morning. The children do not want to be split up, so they take off down the road and hide. A day or two later, they find an empty boxcar on an abandoned railroad track in the woods, and make it into a home. Henry, the oldest, finds a job in the town nearby, and they have an idyllic summer in the woods.

The Boxcar Children appeals to all children who have ever dreamed of living in the woods away from adults. The story is a bit unrealistic, but so charming! Truly a classic, and it will always be treasured in our home.

A note about the series: There are over 130 books in the Boxcar Children series. Only the first 19, however, were written by the original author. I have read all of them, and they are all fairly good, although the first four or so (Boxcar Children, Surprise Island, Yellow House Mystery, and Woodshed Mystery according to memory) are my favorites. The rest, after #19, were written by other authors long after Warner’s death, and the few I read were pure twaddle. I wouldn’t bother with them. The original books are clean and original although after the first several they seem to follow a formula, but don’t bother with the ones that say “created by Gertrude Chandler Warner”.

No warnings!

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12


Links to buy The Boxcar Children:


Paperback | Kindle | Hardcover | Audio CD (unabridged)


Keywords: Orphans

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