Albert Whitman & Company Review: The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set

Monday, March 9, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.



We have been fans of the Boxcar Children books for years. Both my husband and I read them as children, and I was excited to introduce our children to the original chapter books once they started reading fluently! So I jumped at the chance to review The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set from Albert Whitman & Company. 

After we read the first chapter book as a read-aloud a few years ago, a friend told me that there was also a movie version of the book, and it's surprisingly faithful to the plot! Book 2, Surprise Island, is actually based on the movie version of the second book, but still faithful to the plot in general. The artwork is also based on the animated movie versions of the books, but I think I prefer the book artwork to the computer-animated movie art.

Gertrude Chandler Warner, the original book author, actually wrote The Boxcar Children as a children's book in the 1920s and then rewrote it in the 1940s to be used specifically as a school reader. I had no idea growing up that that was the case! She then wrote 18 more Boxcar Children books, and eventually the series was taken over by other authors following the success of the original 19 stories. This is one of the very first chapter books our twins read when they started being more fluent readers, and it's no wonder they had such an easy time of it, since it turns out it was specifically written for that purpose.


These newer books, though, are not chapter books - they're easy readers. They appealed to all my children, even the one-year-old!! But I would say the 3-year-old and 5-year-old appreciated them the most, requesting to have them read aloud multiple times each day.

They're on the longer side, as far as easy readers go, and definitely too difficult for Peter (5), but not too long that they can't keep the attention of younger children. I think this sort of book whets the appetite of young readers, since they know the basic plot of the stories and are eager to learn to read a bit better so that they can read the chapter books on their own (although I do think I'll read the original Boxcar Children book aloud soon, since the children have been enjoying these so much).



The books are available in hard cover and paperbacks, with 6 books currently published and a total of 8 expected by the end of the year. I always prefer hardcover books and these are very sturdy, I think they'll last us a long time! They've already taken up residence in our newly-organized library, amongst our other favorite early reader books. Recommended for ages 5-7, we've found these work best as a read-aloud for younger children, and are far below the level most of our children have typically read at between the ages of 5 and 7, but their reading skill is atypical! The pictures are engaging enough to please a more advanced reader and to satisfy non-readers alike.


My *only* minor quibble is that for some reason Violet gets to wear nice dresses in all the books, but Jessie is always wearing either very tight pants or awkward shorts (one pair is incredibly short! Who thought that was a good idea when she's exploring in the woods??). I think I'm the only one who noticed that, though!

We're going to check at our library next time we go to see if they have heard of these early reader versions of the books, and recommend they purchase them if they haven't already. They're definitely worth having on more shelves!

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