5 New Thinking Train Titles: Picture books for the English class

We are excited about the five new titles in The Thinking Train series. The success of the first series of five books, which were nominated for the ELTons 2016 Awards in the Innovation in Learner Resources category, tells us that picture books are now essential resources for the language class.

Get on the Thinking Train!

The Thinking Train is a unique series of picture books which focus on the development
 of children’s thinking skills through the use of stories. These stories will encourage a love of reading and promote thoughtful interaction with books while developing children’s thinking skills. The activities, in carefully graded English, will automatically develop and practise their language skills, too. All these stories establish a context for the new language resources, and by contextualising, they provide a cultural setting for them as well. Through the situations we can see language in action, while the pictures allow learners to respond to and build upon them creatively.

Click here to find out about the series and the importance of thinking development, the idea of interactive reading and the power of visual stories. You will also find information about the titles, authors and illustrators of the the first series.

Go to this website dedicated to the series to see sample pages and more information about each title.

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Themes, characters and setting

The Bully, level a

This story is set in a school, and it talks about bullying and its consequences both on the victims and the bully himself. It also shows how thinking carefully about our actions gives us the chance to change our ways.

Through reading the story your learners will also learn and practise the vocabulary of school objects, the days and simple verbs, as well as the use of ‘can’ to talk about ability, and imperatives.

Let’s play!, level b

Even if a child has all the toys and games they wish for, he or she can still feel lonely and bored. What can help with this situation? Friends and some more friends!

In this story your learners will practise the vocabulary of sports, sports equipment, toys and verbs to talk about the games and sports they like playing.

The three seeds, level c

This story takes us to a farm in Ireland. A family with three children work and live on this farm, and the children help a lot with the sheep. What happens when they all want ponies? Their dad organises a  competition, and we learn that only honesty can guarantee a real win.

In this story you will read about farms, animals, plants and flowers, and learn to think about how the natural world changes as plants grow. Your learners will practise categorising, sequencing and problem solving.

A year without Mum, level d

How long is a year? And how can you make it pass more quickly? In this story we meet a boy whose Mum goes to work in Chile for a year. The boy has to learn about patience and with the help of his grandma he learns to transform his sadness into creative activities. He creates artworks each month which represent the natural world or the festivals that occur during those months.

Through reading the story your students will learn about the concepts of time and being alone but never lonely. They will practise the vocabulary of the natural world,  months and festivals. They will explore the map of the world and use common objects in the most creative ways.

Ruby runs the race, level e

If you are not good at a subject, it does not mean that you are not able to do it! Ruby hates P.E. and she finds herself in a challenging situation when one of her friends gets injured during a cross-country race. She learns that she is good at a lot of other things and she can even learn to like P.E.!

This story practises the vocabulary of school subjects, you will do some calculations and some real-life problem-solving!

Authors and illustrators

The authors are Günter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta, authors of several internationally acclaimed English language materials, course and resource books. And the activities have been developed with Marion Williams, an expert in the field.

The illustrators are Lorenzo Sabbatini, Marzia Sanfilippo, Cecilia Tamburini, Maria Sole Macchia and Fransesca Assirelli.


Would you like more materials for young learners? Here are some resource and course books to develop thinking and language skills.

For practical ideas and activities, visit our posts about young readers and young learners:

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