When I was a little girl, the Boxcar Children series was my absolute favorite. There was something so intriguing about kids who were able to manage so much on their own, their lives so very different from mine.
The Boxcar Children books tell the story of four orphaned children – Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, who fend for themselves by creating a home in an abandoned boxcar in the woods.
It was the romantic idea that a group of children could fend for themselves which appealed to me, and to so many other young kids.
In a world dominated by adults, feeling like these kids could possibly be so capable spoke to me in a way few other books did. The notion of independence and adventure are themes that have continued to resonate with kids throughout the life of this series.
Raising readers is an exciting process, and finding books that stand the test of time is a good step in the right direction.
This series hits the mark:
The National Education Association named the original book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children,” and the original novel was also ranked among the all-time “Top 100 Chapter Books”, or children’s novels, in a survey by the School Library Journal.
The books have sold 50 million print copies over the span of decades.
Clearly, this book series has a lasting, wide appeal.
What are the Boxcar Children books about?
The Boxcar Children books follow the adventures of four orphaned children – Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden – who fend for themselves and solve mysteries together.
The children eventually reunite with their grandfather, who helps to care for them while preserving their boxcar in his backyard.
The books could be categorized as “juvenile mysteries,” where the Alden kids solve some really basic whodunits.
Who are the main characters in the Boxcar Children books?
The Boxcar Children books are about the Alden children – Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny.
Fourteen year old Henry is the oldest child in the Alden family. He is capable and has a lot of responsibility for his siblings in the books.
Jessie is twelve years old, and is a “take charge” type of kid. She’s super organized which is useful as the children attempt to solve their various mysteries.
Ten-year-old Violet is the creative and shy Alden child. She likes art and is able to notice details that escape her brothers and sister.
Benny, the youngest Alden, is an impulsive, playful 6 year old. He is curious and eager to help is older siblings solve mysteries.
How did the parents of the Boxcar Children die?
The manner of death for the parents of the Alden children is – weirdly -never revealed.
In the opening paragraph of the original book, Warner writes “One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No one knew where they had come from.”
How many Boxcar Children books are there?
Today, the complete series includes upwards of 150 titles. The original series by Gertrude Chandler Warner consisted of 19 books, and the subsequent books in the series were written by ghostwriters.
What age group is the Boxcar Children for?
The Boxcar Children books are written for children ages 8-10, or roughly kids in grades 2-6. This age range indicates the readability level of the books, rather than being an indicator of content appropriateness.
Generally speaking, the middle to later elementary and early middle school grades would be the logical time to introduce your child to the series.
What level reading is the Boxcar Children series?
The Boxcar Children series is geared toward children reading at a second or third grade level.
Who wrote the Boxcar Children books?
The Boxcar Children book series was created and written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, a first-grade teacher from Putnam, Connecticut.
Warner was born on April 16, 1890, to Edgar and Jane Warner. She grew up in a family that included a sister, Frances, and a brother named John.
Gertrude dreamed of becoming a writer from the time she was a little girl. Gertrude would write stories for her Grandfather Carpenter, and give him one as a gift each Christmas.
Today, Warner is best remembered as the author of the original Boxcar Children mystery books.
Gertrude imagined how amazing it might be to live in the caboose of a freight car, and this idea prompted the creation of an overwhelmingly successful series.
The books were originally published in 1924, and although Warner wrote the first 19 books in the series, there are now many more books (150+) created by different authors.
Warner died in 1979, and continues to be credited on new Boxcar Children books as the original series creator.
The authors of the newer titles are not always named directly, although two authors, Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohen are credited as the ghostwriters behind “many of the Boxcar Children books.”
Who is the illustrator of the Boxcar Children?
Various illustrators have worked on the books over the years.
Anne Yvonne Gilbert and Gretchen Ellen Powers illustrated the 75th anniversary edition of the classic series.
L. Kate Deal was also an illustrator on the series.
Where can I find the Boxcar Children books?
You can buy the Boxcar Children books on Amazon.