A Childhood Favorite

One of my favorite childhood books was The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. It’s a story of four children, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, who are orphaned and on their own, even though they have a rich grandfather they’ve never met. They thought their grandfather didn’t want them, so they’ve run away. They find an old boxcar in the woods, and turn it into a home, being very creative in how they make it a nice place to live. The four children are so kind to each other and slowly get to know many of the townspeople nearby, especially the kindly doctor who helps them in many ways and who figures out who they are. They do finally meet their grandfather, and discover that he’s really a kind old gentleman, and all ends well.

My students have been reading this book as a “novel study.” They take turns reading aloud and have then done little projects and assignments for each chapter. I’m delighted to say that they’ve enjoyed it as much as I did when I first read it. There’s a whole series of books based on these characters, the first 19 written by Gertrude Chandler Warner herself, and the rest by other authors. This first one, however, captured my heart many years ago, and continues to capture children’s hearts today!

8 thoughts on “A Childhood Favorite

  1. rachele

    This is one of my childhood favorites also, and was performed locally last year by one of our children’s theaters. I checked it out of our very small elementary school library in 2nd grade and was completely captivated by it, and would love to read it again.


  2. Chris

    I can’t tell you how much I used to love these books when I was a kid! I used to want to live in a boxcar so bad after reading them. It seemed like one of the most magnificent things to live all on your own in your own little place that you had set up for yourself. I’d love to read these again, I’m going to have to go get a copy!


  3. Bookfool

    One of my childhood wishes was that some day I’d own my own boxcar (although I also really liked the idea of owning a caboose, with that upstairs window) because of the Box-Car Children. I hadn’t thought about them in years, but I’d love to reread them. They were such creative children and made living in a boxcar sound like great fun.


  4. Bybee

    This is ***the*** book of my mother’s childhood, but although she talked about it all the time, we never sat down and read it together. I suppose I should give it a go one of these days.


  5. Robin

    Hi Rachele, I think I read it the first time in 2nd grade, too. I’ll bring you a copy next time we see you!

    Jenclair, sometimes when you revisit a favorite book from your childhood you can be disappointed, but I loved it all over again as I read it with my students.

    Chris, me, too! I wanted to live in a boxcar, too. I loved that they were living on their own and fixing their own little place up so nicely. It’s a fun book to reread.

    Bookfool, I loved the children’s creativity in this story, as well as their independence. It was fun to revisit it with my 2nd graders.

    Nan, I don’t think I ever read it to my kids. Oh dear! How could that have happened? I’ll have to double-check with them.

    Bybee, after reading your comment, I realized that I don’t think I read it to my own children when they were growing up! I wonder what happened? Anyway, you might really enjoy seeing what it was your mother loved about it.


  6. Bellezza

    I agree with Chris; this book practically made me want to run away! My kids still love it today, as much as all of us commented here. I remember like The Yellow House Mystery when I was in third grade, but none of hers can top the first as you said.



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