Teaching Values with Thomas and Friends

I’d been trying to find story books to help me teach Gavin about values when it occurred to me that the best character to teach Gavin about values is Thomas.  If I thought Gavin was crazy about Thomas when he was little, he has gone into a whole different level of madness that borders on obsessive.

What’s the level of his obsession? Well, I’m no longer Mummy.  My name’s Edward.  Gavin’s Thomas, of course.  Gareth is Henry.  Daddy is Gordon.  My SILs are James and Percy.  Ah Kong and Ah Mah are Emily and Toby.  He won’t answer to the name Gavin and keeps insisting that we call him Thomas.  He won’t address us by our proper names either.  Instead, he keeps calling me Edward.

We don’t eat food, we take on coal.  Anything we drink is taking on water.  We don’t shower, we go to the wash down.  We don’t hold hands, we couple.  When he’s tired, his wheels (read: feet) are broken.  Instead of sitting in the pram, he’s on a flatbed.  When the car stops at the traffic lights, we’re stopped at a signal.  When the car passes a toll booth, we’re at Knapford Station picking up passengers.  His head is a funnel and when his tummy hurts, he tells me his “boiler aches”.  And it goes on but I’m sure you get the drift.

Of course he’s still a child with a fanciful imagination so it is probably premature to get too worked up about it.  In the mean time, why not take advantage of the obsession?  We got through the ABCs, numbers and colours using Thomas and his friends, why not values?

I was initially planning to make up my own stories when I realised there were already some handy Thomas stories which could work.


Honesty and lying can be taught with the story “Thomas Breaks a Promise” by Random House.

The story is about an important task that the Fat Controller sends Thomas on.  He is supposed to check out a new route to make sure all the signals are working before the grand opening.  Halfway through his duties, Thomas sneaks off to attend a carnival.  He forgets to check the rest of the signals on the new track and lies to the Fat Controller about it.  Planning to check the rest of the signals in the morning, he doesn’t realise that his best friend Percy is being sent on the new route that night.  One of the signals fails and Percy nearly has an accident.  The Fat Controller asks Thomas what went wrong, Thomas confesses the truth and is sent to check all the signals on the Fat Controller’s railway to make amends.


There are several Thomas stories that can be used to talk about prejudice.  Harvey to the Rescue and Rocky (My Thomas Story Library) are just two examples.  In Harvey to the rescue, Harvey is a crane engine who has just arrived on the Island of Sodor.  Because he is different, none of the other engines like him and they don’t think he is useful and they don’t want to be his friend until he rescues Percy who gets derailed during an accident.

Similarly, in the story of Rocky, Edward and Gordon think Rocky is useless because he doesn’t have an engine.  In order to get from one place to another, Rocky needs one of the engines to push him.  Then Edward and Gordon are involved in an accident and Rocky saves the day.  Because of his size, Rocky can lift much heavier loads compared to Harvey.

Team Work

Calling All Engines is a terrific story for communicating the importance of team work.  In this story, the steam engines and the diesel engines on the Island of Sodor refuse to work with each other.  When they work alone, they find they cannot get the work done in time for the opening of the new airport.  Thomas and Mavis help to rally the engines and convince them to work together so they can meet the deadline.

These are just some of the stories I can think of.  There are other Thomas stories which can be used to communicate other important values, too.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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