I think because we’re a house of architects (and perhaps because we’ve also done a lot of construction on our own house), the girls are frequently given books related to architecture or building. Some of them are really quite good, but we’ve also read some really dry ones – pages with lots of diagrams and terminology that, while accurate, aren’t really much of a story. They have a lift-the-flap book that they both enjoyed when they were younger – it featured all sorts of construction scenes and lots of technical words and details – but, yawn. I got a little tired of reading that book.
F came home from school on Friday (library day) with Building Our House by Jonathan Bean, and I was so excited to read it. Because it’s a story! (That just happens to be about construction, but also about family, and community and perseverance, and grit.) She LOVES this book, and so do I.
The story of how this family left the city to build their own home in the country is told from the perspective of the oldest daughter. It illustrates the various steps involved in residential construction from gathering materials, having a plan, staking out the foundation, pouring the basement walls – all the way through the big frame-raising party, exterior shell, interior construction, and finally, moving day.
The illustrations include a lot of detail in the cutaway sections of the house, but there are so many other pieces to the story beyond those four walls. I love how mom and dad and the kids (even though they are little) all work together to get each project done. There are added storylines that only appear in the pictures, not the text – like mom’s growing belly and the growing menagerie of pets along the way.
The construction story ties into the seasons as well, and I love how every choice that is made along the way seems so well thought out. Each time I read it, I notice something I missed the time before. We find ourselves rooting for this family as they near completion on this enormous undertaking – and there’s a delightful surprise at the end for everyone that secretly wishes that a story like this just might be true.
So if you are looking for a book about the building process that you won’t mind reading over and over again, Building Our House might be perfect for you.
Find this title at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!