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The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children #1)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  61,166 ratings  ·  1,684 reviews
The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.
ebook, 160 pages
Published December 14th 2010 by Albert Whitman & Company (first published 1942)
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I read this book as a child and oh, did I ever cherish it. I'm a detail-oriented person, and this book speaks to the super organized control freak in me. Warner weaves so many details into the lives of the Boxcar children that, as a young'un, I found myself mentally picturing their home in exquisite detail. Over a decade since I last read it, I still remember the milk kept cool by the waterfall, or the kids carrying the cherries back to the boxcar between them. These details are the strength of...more
When I was young, around the age of 7 I think, my mother was hospitalized for several months. I went to stay with my aunt and uncle. I missed my parents dreadfully. One warm afternoon while wandering around around on their property, I found a box of old books in a barn of sorts. I picked up The Boxcar Children and begain to read. My loneliness disappeared, and my life changed forever. The story pulled me in and I couldn't put it down. I felt as if I was a part of their adventures and the boxcar....more
Never having read any of The Boxcar Children series as a kid, a friend recently gave me a copy of an ebook comprising the first 12 volumes to see what I missed out on. As a boy, I had been a fan of Enid Blyton's books, which were largely set in Britain, so I was curious to see how something similar from the US would read. I had also read that The Boxcar Children series is still very popular among kids despite having started in the 1940s.

As the book was first published 70 years ago, I was expecti...more
If I had just given this a rating instead of feeling the need to re-read it, I would have clicked five stars and moved on with my life. I remember REALLY liking these books when I was a kid. And I like to think of myself as fundamentally the same person. Turns out, The Boxcar Children series is terrible! The only reason I gave it two stars was out of respect for the sliver of memory I have left of enjoying it. The writing is uninspired, the situations are improbable, and the stories aren't even...more

I read this in 1993 when I was in 3rd grade and just loved it.
I never thought of all the gender stereotypes because I knew that it was an old book and you often see that in old books.
Come on, there is a "horse and cart" coming down the road, the boys are wearing short pants and stockings, and the girls have on kerchiefs over their heads.
Clearly this is not a modern book and we don't need to expect it to be modern.
Kids reading it should not be changed or affected by the gender stereotypes bec...more
I happened to stumble across this and I was addicted to these when I was younger so I thought a re-read was in order. It was a little different than I remember but just as charming. I can see why I wanted to live in a boxcar when I was little. However, there is some weird gender things and other stuff that I never would have noticed as a child but seems glaringly obvious and weird as an adult. Overall reading it again was a heck of a lot of fun.
Bonus review (not following the rules, but very heartfelt): I re-read this book out of sheer nostalgia, after typing up my review of the very unfortunate graphic novel adaptation. Though I probably read it a dozen times as a child, I hadn't looked at it since about fourth grade. I was impressed, when I read the graphic novel, how much I remembered from the original... Benny's pink cup, the swimming pool, the wonderful domesticity of everything, to the point of spending scarce money on salt and s...more
Feb 01, 2008 Stacy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: babies
Recommended to Stacy by: Mom
I wanted to read this book because my mom said it was one of her favorites from her childhood. She said she identified with the children who had to take care of themselves. I don't think that's a compliment to my grandparents.

Anyway, reading this makes me realize how much children's literature has changed. The plot is like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - orphan siblings using their own resources to help themselves. But the tone is so sugary sweet it gives me a toothache. The c...more
I never read these as a child and don't think I had much interest in them until searching for more books for my son to read. He's 7, in 2nd grade, but reads on a 5th grade reading level. I'm always trying to find books he can read that are on his level where the content isn't too old for him. This was one of the books I picked off the library shelf in hopes that it would meet that criteria. I thought it was a nice story and look forward to reading a few more of the boxcar books to see how they m...more
Genre: fiction, chapter book
Topic: runaways, life in a boxcar,
Theme: independence, trusting adults, becoming self-sufficient,
Illustrations: There are very few illustrations in this book. The few there are depict scenes from the story.
Use: read aloud, guided reading, independent reading
Reading level: Fluent
Literary Elements: vivid descriptions


Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, four orphaned brothers and sisters, suddenly appear in a small town. No one knows who these young wanderers are o...more
Admit it -- when you read this book, you obsessed for the next six weeks over the idea of running away from home, building a ladle out of scraps found in the junkyard, and picking cherries for a kindly elderly family. This series wasn't *nearly* as fun after they got adopted....
Kris Irvin
I read The Boxcar Children as a child. I think I was 7 or 8 when I started reading them. It was the first series I ever collected and I loved these books.

I wanted to introduce them to my 5 year old. He's mildly autistic and has a very short attention span, but surprisingly, he sits still and listens to the story here. He loves Benny and Watch, and though he may not understand all of what is happening, I think he is getting the gist of it all. It's been a great experience to read these and re-li...more
Michelle [Helen Geek]
One of the first books I ever had read to me. I remember my third grade teacher - Ms. Murray. I loved this book. I just bought it to read to my grand-girl. Third grade for me was in 1969. Wow! I never read others in the series and frankly didn't know there were others. I hope she likes this one so we can read them all!

Happy Reading!
Aug 21, 2007 Bookwormdragon rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children
Shelves: dont-own, reviewed
This is one of the many classics from my childhood. I greatly enjoyed the whole series as a child, and would certainly recommend them to other readers in the targeted age-group, but I can't say that I have an overwhelming urge to re-read them as an adult. The Boxcar Children books fall into what I like to call the 'Library' category: worth checking out from the library, but not worth buying sight-unseen. While young children will probably enjoy them, I doubt that they will want to read most of t...more
Melissa Mckee
Warner, Gertrude Chandler. The Boxcar Children. Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company, 1977. Print.
Genre: Children’s Chapter Book
The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner is about four orphans running away from their orphanage due to mistreatment. They find a boxcar and make it into their home because they fear their legal guardian, their grandfather. While living in the boxcar, they encounter some issues that determine their future will not be as they’d hope living on their own. This bo...more
The boxcar children is about 4 kides named Henry. Jessie, violet, and Benny. There parents both died so the cildren run away so there grandfather dosen't find them. The think that there grandfather is old, and mean. the go to the bakery and as they look at the display window when the backers wife comes and lookes at them with a verry bad look she hates kids. As the walked in they bought a lofe of bread and Henery asked if they could sleep ther at night if they helped do the dishes in the morning...more
Apr 22, 2013 Irene rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elementary school aged kids
Shelves: children
I remember loving this series as a child. I even have a specific memory of looking for books in this series on the library shelves - up high on the last shelf before the windows in the children's area.

Somehow, though, I managed to forget every single detail about them except that there are four children, and they live in a boxcar. Re-reading this book for the first time since I was a kid, I was surprised to learn that the children were reunited with their grandfather! I honestly didn't remember...more
Grade/Interest Level – Upper Elementary (3rd-5th)
Reading Level: Lexile 490L
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Main Characters: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny
Setting: Rural area in a fictitious town and in a boxcar
POV: Narrator
Rating: 5 stars

This story is about 4 orphaned siblings (Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny) and their search for the necessities of life, namely food and shelter. The children stick together by helping each other find food and comforting each other when resources run scarce. They preten...more
I loved these books as a child. I just re-read this one again, now as an adult. In reading many of the comments made here, I realize that most of you may not know this book was published in 1942, right after the Great Depression. This is a book about children who start off with nothing, but managed to survive and even thrive on their own resourcefulness. This was probably a very powerful book in 1942 and it is still relevant, perhaps even more so, today.

I love that these children are respectful...more
Elesa Hagberg
I loved this book as a kid. It wasn't till I read it out loud to my own kids that I realized how silly it is. "Sure, lets just let these kids fend for themselves and live all alone in the woods because they are having such a great time even though they just lost their parents. Everything is fun!"

But really, all that stuff is beside the point. Who doesn't want to go live in a boxcar by themselves for a while?

The language and the story and the way it was told were just perfect to hold my two litt...more
Cathrine Bonham
I remember reading this as a kid (actually I think might have been my first book) and loving it. It is still a great story even after all these years. I re-read it now because this book has recently been turned into an animated direct to DVD movie. The movie is nicely done and holds up well when compared to the book.

The story has all kinds of short comings, such as the children are always polite and never fight but you don't care about that as a child. All the kids sees is how wonderful it is l...more
The Boxcar Children = most read series between the ages of 6 and 9 for me. I think of these fondly. Every child should read this series.
This original 1924 edition of the Boxcar Children has some changes from the edition that I grew up with. The children's drunk father is in the picture until he dies (at the beginning). Many details are the same, but many are different. Jessie is "Jess," Alden is "Cordyce," and the place names have changed as well. There were several changes that I enjoyed reading about: ginseng hunting, printing with blackberry juice for ink, and haircuts for the girls.

If you're a fan, you might enjoy reading t...more
Kathryn McCary
I know I read this as a child--I remember it rather differently. Everything you read as a child seems ever-so-much-moreso, and this is no exception.

Commentary available on the web about Gertrude Chandler Warner repeatedly mentions that she wrote the book because her elementary school students lacked books with exciting incidents but a very simple reading level. She definitely succeeded in filing that gap. They also note that the book was criticized because "the children were having too good a ti...more
Jun 29, 2011 Juanita rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pre-teens
Recommended to Juanita by: My mother
Shelves: my-baby-s-reads
A brilliant read for any child!

I realize that Mrs. Warner set out to make a book - a novel - that would be an easy read for children while being entertaining to them. She kept the kids away from adults as much as possible, allowing them to make their way in the world with as little parental instruction as possible in this story - the dream of every child. :) That's why this book has been a staple in every home with youngsters since before I was born.

The Boxcar Children teaches important truths...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: This is another book from the Random Bookshelf that I am reading from this year.The Boxcar Children have played a big part in my and my children's lives. I intend to acquire a complete set of the first 19 books (the others hold no interest to me) and keep them as keepers on my juvenile shelves for my future grandchildren.

When I read these books from the library is the mid '70s, they were hardcover's with picture boards and I was entranced with them. I'd always go over an pick...more
I read this book aloud to Jacob and Graham, one or two chapters a night at bedtime, and they loved it. The chapters were short and simple enough to keep even my two-year-old interested. It is simple and sweet--a very good first novel for independent readers or for reading aloud to young children. The characters are so sweet and the story is charming. There is nothing offensive in this book whatsoever. As an adult, I was a bit bothered by the fact that we never understood why the children's grand...more
I've read some reviews that say this series may not hold for modern young people, but really, I read it in the mid-late 80s and I enjoyed it, and I think there is still plenty of entertainment value for today's kids. Maybe some kids will be deterred by the lack of technology, but if they enjoy a good adventure, I'm not sure they'll miss it. After all, the adventures that the children go on are often the kinds of adventures that many kids dream of (like spending the summer all by themselves on an...more
Jenna Leigh
When I think of the best children's books, this one is right up there at the top of the list for me.

The Boxcar Children follows the adventures of 4 orphans living in an abandoned boxcar, because they're scared of their supposedly "mean" grandfather, even though they've never met him...

The children's resourcefulness is the best part of this book. As a kid, I loved reading about the contraptions they made and how they made do with what they could find at the dump and through Henry's job. It made...more
Andrea Carter
I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading the first book in the popular series 'The Boxcar Children' written by Gertrude Chandler Warner. This was one of my absolute favorites when I was younger. I specifically remember my third grade teacher reading us the first chapter and instantly I was hooked. I can also remember my librarian eventually telling me I was too old to read the series. The classic book follows orphan children Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny and their mysterious journeys. I would recommen...more
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Who else loves this book? 46 113 Feb 25, 2014 05:13PM  
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Gertrude Chandler Warner was born in Putnam, Connecticut, on April 16, 1890, to Edgar and Jane Warner. Her family included a sister, Frances, and a brother, John. From the age of five, she dreamed of becoming an author. She wrote stories for her Grandfather Carpenter, and each Christmas she gave him one of these stories as a gift. Today, Ms. Warner is best remembered as the author of THE BOXCAR CH...more
More about Gertrude Chandler Warner...
Surprise Island (The Boxcar Children, #2) The Boxcar Children 1-4 (The Boxcar Children, #1-4) The Yellow House Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #3) Mystery Ranch (The Boxcar Children, #4) The Lighthouse Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #8)

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“How they love the old boxcar!” 1 likes
“While the mystery element is central to each of Miss Warner’s books, she never thought of them as strictly juvenile mysteries. She liked to stress the Aldens’ independence and resourcefulness and their solid New England devotion to using up and making do. The Aldens go about most of their adventures with as little adult supervision as possible—something else that delights young readers.” 0 likes
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