One of my grandson's is three and a half, and comes over to spend the day every other Saturday. I showed him my layout and ran the train a little for him about 4 months ago, but it was weird, because he just couldn't mentally comprehend that the train was moving and controlled by the transformer throttle. He kept wanting to lean over and push the train along by hand like his toys. He quickly got bored and wanted to play on the floor with his push trucks and toys.
I have a copy of the Lionel 120th Anniversary Catalog, though, and keep it on the coffee table in my den. I have never bought anything in it, but occasionally flip through it, because it is a beautiful catalog and you can learn alot about O Gauge just by reading about the products.
About two months ago, when he came over, I was looking through the catalog and he wanted to see what I was reading. I sat him up on my lap and started showing him all of the trains in the beautifully colored pictures. He got really interested.
When we got to pages 110 through 119, he went crazy. Those pages have all of the Thomas & Friends, and Disney Toy Story, Frozen II, and Mickey Mouse engines and cars. He watches all of those shows on t.v. all of the time, and was t facinated by those trains.
He wanted to take the catalog home with him, but I said no, because I knew it would just end up in a pile with his other books and toys, and soon be forgotten. So, I told him it was "Pop's Train Book" and had to stay on my table, but he could look at it whenever he wanted.
Now, whenever he comes over, the first thing he says is "I wanna look at Pop's Train Book." He takes it over to his little chair and table, and spends about a half an hour by himself, looking through those nine pages and talking to himself. He is an extremely careful child, and treats the book like its made of gold. When he is done, he walks it back over to the table and gently sets it down.
Just thought I would pass this along to others. Maybe this is a way to kindle the hobby interest in a small child, and help him grow it as he gets older.
The little train shop down the street has a stack of the newer catalog for free, so if the pictures of those products are somewhat different, I think I'll go down and get one of those for him look at, just to keep his interest fresh.