The Boxcar Children are the leading characters in a series of children's books by the same name. These books have been popular with American children since the 1940s, and the series continues to be produced, although the original author has passed away. Many children's bookstores carry the Boxcar Children, and it is also possible to find them in boxed sets through various retailers. The reading level for the books is around second through fourth grades, depending on the abilities and interests of the individual child.
The first book in the series, The Boxcar Children, was published in 1942. The book introduced readers to the four children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden, who have been orphaned. Because the children are afraid that their new guardian will be mean, they run away, taking refuge in an abandoned boxcar, supporting themselves with odd jobs. Ultimately, the children are introduced to their guardian, who turns out to be a very nice man, and they move in with him. He even sets the boxcar up in his back yard to make the children feel more at home.
After the introductory novel, the rest of the Boxcar Children books involve the children solving various mysteries. The original author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, also aged the children as the series progressed, although books written by later authors retained the children's original ages, which can be a bit confusing. Warner wrote the first 19 books in the series, and the books were so popular that the publisher decided to continue producing books under her byline after she passed away.
Many children enjoy reading the series because the Boxcar Children are resourceful, compassionate, and intelligent, and the stories are often fun and interesting. Each child has a distinctively developed character, allowing many readers to find something in common with at least one of the characters, and the books encourage people to develop problem solving skills and an awareness of and responsibility to others.
Modern readers might find some of the content in the Boxcar Children old fashioned, especially in the case of the earliest books from the 1940s, but the books are still enjoyable. If you have a child in your life who likes the Boxcar Children but wants something a bit more meaty, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins are all good series to consider branching out to.