Written and Illustrated by: Jonathan Bean
Farrar Straus Giroux Books, 2013, Hardcover Edition
Target Audience: Ages 3-8
How We Discovered This Book: This book was in the new books bin at our library, and it looked like good choice for my kids who are very much interested in how things are made.
A girl and her family pack up their belongings and move from town out into an empty field. They live in a trailer for 1-1/2 years as they build their own home from scratch. Every member of the family has a part to play in the hard work and love it takes to build a home.
What I Liked:
Given the increased focus on non-fiction books in our schools, I’m very interested in books that take a non-fiction topic and put a twist on it. This is a fiction book, but is factually based on real events and a real building process. Rather than make it a dry book about construction, the author intertwines the family story with all of the work they did to build their own home. Kids will learn, without really being aware they are learning.
What Did My Kids Think?
Both of my kids enjoyed this book, and I think they now have a slightly better appreciation for what it has taken for us to renovate our own house. They had lots of questions that extended the discussion into other books and videos. The whimsical illustrations pair nicely with the story. The author includes some of his parents’ photographs from their house building at the end, which is an extra treat.
PBS has a fun activity where kids can measure and build a house for some of their favorite storybook characters.
Scholastic has an activity focused on the business process from plans to completion.
Improvise, and see what other kinds of houses you can build: birdhouses, gingerbread houses, or even a house for your guinea pig.