Book Summary:

The story of The Polar Express is that of a young boy who believes in Santa Claus, even though his friends do not. On Christmas Eve the boy lies in bed listening for the sound of Santa’s sleigh, but instead he is greated by the sound of The Polar Express, a giant steam engine filled with children headed to the North Pole to see Santa. Once they arive at the North Pole Santa chooses the young boy to recieve the first gift of the year and the boy requests a bell from Santa’s sleigh. He ends up losing the bell on the way home, but it is returned to him on Christmas morning by santa in a small gift box and when he rings the bell only his sister and himself can hear it and even as an adult many years later he is still able to hear the bell’s sweet chime as he never stopped believing in Santa Claus.

APA Reference:

Van Allsburg, Chris (1985). The Polar Express. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


This is a wonderful story about faith (not the religious kind)  and staying steadfast in your own beliefs. It is light hearted while also having some serious and solemn moments that add to the overall story. The Illustrations are breathtaking as well and any art lover is sure to fall in love with the illustrations.  It is easily one of the best Christmas stories ever written and is considered to be a classic for a reason. As a side note I would like to mention that the movie is excellent as well and I watch it every year at Christmas time at least once.

Professional Review:

“The Polar Express is definitely a book that should be read by not only children but also adults. The author does a great job with the theme of the book and really makes you want to believe. This is a great Christmas book and is read by many families around the winter holidays. We see a young boy wanting so badly to believe that Santa is real. We as readers see the adventure that he goes through and really understand that every child does go through a stage in their life where they don’t know whether or not they should believe; especially when it comes to Santa. I think it is important that children read this book to understand that it is okay to still believe. Even if they don’t believe it is still a great book to read because as the author puts it some people believe and some don’t it is up to you to decide if you do or don’t.” – Krista Kildea (2001). The Polar Express. Children’s Literature Book Reviews.

Library Uses: 

Since this is a Christmas book it could be used for a Christmas themed story time event that the library could host. In addition the movie could be shown after the reading and arts and crafts could also be done (such as coloring pages) for children in conjunction with the book.


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