Brought to you by ReadingRockets.org
With support from the Park Foundation, Inc.
WETA.org

Start with a Book

Loading
Summer Books and Activities for Kids

Builders and Buildings

Builders and building

How to explore this theme:

  1. Choose books and book-related activities
  2. Explore more hands-on activities
  3. Try some summer writing
  4. Dig deeper with these websites
  5. Play and learn with interactive mobile apps

#1: Choose kids' books and book-related activities Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Alphabet Under Construction

Alphabet Under Construction

By: Denise Fleming | Illustrated by: Denise Fleming

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

An appealing mouse (also seen in Lunch) creates active letters of the alphabet, beginning by "airbrushing" the A and all the way to the zipped Z. The mouse keeps a calendar of work accomplished which astute readers will note at the end.

Purchase book

Build, Dogs, Build: A Tall Tail

Build, Dogs, Build: A Tall Tail

By: James Horvath

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Time to get rolling/Duke just got a call/Load up the bulldozer and big wrecking ball. Head foreman Duke and his crew of dogs are ready to pull down an old building and build up a new one! With cranes, bulldozers, dump trucks, and cement mixers all on the job, these busy dogs are the perfect construction team. But with so much to do, will they finish the building in time? [Barnes & Noble]

Purchase book

Building a House

Building a House

By: Byron Barton

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A machine digs a big hole. A cement mixer pours cement. Carpenters put up walls. Bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, and painters do their part. Through brilliantly simple words and pictures we follow each step, and before our eyes a house is built. [Amazon]

Purchase book

Building Our House

Building Our House

By: Jonathan Bean

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The oldest child narrates the family's move from the city to build their own house on farm land. How the family works together planning and building while living in a tiny trailer pays homage to the author's parents who are introduced in photographs and a note at the end.

Purchase book

How a House Is Built

How a House Is Built

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As readers quickly comprehend, building a house is a complex project requiring the cooperative efforts of many people. Beginning with the architect who draws the plans, readers meet the surveyors, equipment operators, carpenters, plumbers, and other people who produce a building. The book concludes with a family moving in, ready to make the house a home.

Purchase book

Look at That Building: A First Book of Structures

Look at That Building: A First Book of Structures

By: Scot Ritchie

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Introduce young readers to basic construction concepts through the eyes of five friends keen on building a doghouse for their pet pooch, Max. Yulee, Martin, Nick, Sally and Pedro head to the library, where they learn about foundations, beams, frames and other building fundamentals. Fun facts, bright illustrations and comic-book-style discussions among the characters add to the mix. An activity at the end of the book invites readers to make their own mini doghouse out of marshmallows, paper, glue and craft sticks. [Amazon]

Purchase book

Palazzo Inverso

Palazzo Inverso

By: D.B. Johnson | Illustrated by: D.B. Johnson

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The hero of the story is a young apprentice named Mauk. Like most kids, he loves to draw, but grownups like his Master will only let him sharpen the pencils. And when things go wrong, like most kids, he gets all the blame. One lucky circumstance saves our small hero: when Mauk turns the drawing of the palazzo right side up again, a magical thing happens — he alone can run on the ceiling of the Palazzo Inverso!

Purchase book

Shapes in Buildings

Shapes in Buildings

By: Rebecca Rissman

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Can you spot the shape? Crisp photographs help children learn about the different shapes you can find in buildings. [Amazon]

Purchase book

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A City Through Time

A City Through Time

By: Philip Steele | Illustrated by: Steve Noon

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Follow the progress of an imaginary city through six key periods of time, each captured by a scene of the city and zooming in on key buildings like a Roman bathhouse, medieval castle, and a modern skyscraper. Young readers are introduced to the people who lived there, from Greek slaves to modern-day commuters. [Amazon]

Purchase book

A House Is a House for Me

A House Is a House for Me

By: Mary Ann Hoberman | Illustrated by: Betty Fraser

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A lively rhyming cadence introduces many different houses for various residents. From spiders to birds to stories, each has a place to live — but always, "a house is a house for me!"

Purchase book

A Year at a Construction Site

A Year at a Construction Site

By: Nicholas Harris

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Send in the cranes! Bulldozers! Earthmovers! Would you like to watch how a building goes up? During the next twelve months, these construction workers are building a school. Check out these eight action-packed scenes for a bird's-eye view of the whole process. See how the workers make the foundation, add the walls, and put on the roof. Keep your eye on the calendar too. By spending a whole year at the building site, you can watch events unfold until the school is ready for students and teachers. [Amazon]

Purchase book

Amazing Buildings

Amazing Buildings

By: Kate Hayden

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Have you ever heard of a hotel made of snow? How would you put a building in space? And who washes the windows on the tallest skyscrapers in the world? Find out about the world's most famous and unique structures, from the ancient Coliseum to eco-friendly stadiums and more. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test

Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test

By: Carol Johmann, Elizabeth Rieth | Illustrated by: Michael P. Kline

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Historical and technical information on the design and construction of bridges with easy hands-on experiments. Learn about arch, beam, and suspension systems, the "care and feeding" of structures, and reflections on bridges of the future. Find simple projects involving building, measurement, or observation, such as testing the strength of varied paper shapes or constructing a Popsicle-stick truss bridge or-for literary types-writing bridge poems. The book concludes with a challenge for young minds to "think outside the box."

Purchase book

Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudí

Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudí

By: Rachel Rodriguez | Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Short sentences tell of the architect's boyhood in Catalonia, his love of nature, and his early influences and inspiration. Gouache illustrations playfully re-create Casa Batlló, Casa Milá, and other structures. "For Gaudí, building is serious./Everything must function./But he isn't afraid to use/his imagination." Gaudí incorporated nature inside and outside his creations. [School Library Journal review]

Purchase book

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

By: Christy Hale

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Recognizable constructions from childhood such as blocks and sandcastles and playful verse are juxtaposed to actual photos of architectural landmarks from around the globe. A note about the structure and the architects conclude this imaginative look at art and architecture.

Purchase book

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

By: Giles Laroche | Illustrated by: Giles Laroche

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

People all around have homes in which to live, but not all of them look alike. Dwellings old and new, in the U.S. and around the world, small and large, are presented in highly detailed, colorful collages and brief but informative text. A final map places the locations on a simple world map.

Purchase book

Iggy Peck, Architect

Iggy Peck, Architect

By: Andrea Beaty | Illustrated by: David Roberts

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials — who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers? When his second-grade teacher declares her dislike of architecture, Iggy faces a challenge. He loves building too much to give it up! With irresistible rhyming text and puckish illustrations, this book will charm creative kids everywhere, and amuse their sometimes bewildered parents. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Let's Build a Clubhouse

Let's Build a Clubhouse

By: Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by: Timothy Bush

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Short, snappy verses invite young readers to participate in the building of a clubhouse, from drawing a plan to brushing paint on the walls. In addition to the poem, there are facts on each spread about each tool and how to use it. Many of the tools will be familiar to children, such as the hammer and the wrench, but this book also introduces some less familiar tools, such as the plane, square and level. For the child who dreams about having a space of their own. {Amazon review]

Purchase book

Monumental Verses

Monumental Verses

By: J. Patrick Lewis

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning color photographs and poems combine to pay homage to some of the "world's enduring man-made constructions" while introducing a range of poetic forms. The result is a memorable collection of visual art, information, and literary art sure to stand up to multiple examinations.

Purchase book

Skyscrapers! Super Structures to Design and Build

Skyscrapers! Super Structures to Design and Build

By: Carol A. Johmann | Illustrated by: Michael P. Kline

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

From Chicago's Montauk Block, built in 1881, to the Millennium Tower in Tokyo, still in the planning stages, this lively text describes the history and structure of the world's tallest buildings and offers some facts and enticing projects. Activities include laying a concrete floor with sand, cornstarch, and two Popsicle sticks; testing a building frame made from toothpicks and marshmallows; and building an elevator with a small cardboard box and an empty thread spool. [School Library Journal review]

Purchase book

The 13-Story Treehouse

The 13-Story Treehouse

By: Andy Griffiths

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Terry and Andy are friends who live in a huge tree house complete with a bowling alley, game room, laboratory, and much more all of which lead to fantastic, funny adventures. Comic cartoon illustrations vary the format which ranges from traditional to comic book.

Purchase book

The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale

The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale

By: Steven Guarnaccia | Illustrated by: Steven Guarnaccia

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this quirky, retelling of “The Three Little Pigs,” the pigs and their homes are nods to three famous architects — Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright — and their signature homes. Each house is filled with clever details, including furnishings by the architects and their contemporaries. Of course, not all the houses are going to protect the pigs from the wolf’s huffing and puffing. Which one will? The wolf, and readers, are in for a clever surprise ending. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing

By: April Jones Prince | Illustrated by: Francois Roca

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

This well-researched, handsomely illustrated picture book captures the anticipation and uncertainties of those who witnessed the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Focusing on Phineas T. Barnum of circus fame, the author describes the pachyderm procession up Broadway, past City Hall, and over the bridge to Brooklyn. The sparse, yet powerful text contains both alliteration and occasional rhyme, making it a pleasure for readers and listeners alike. [School Library Journal]

Purchase book

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Amazing Buildings

Amazing Buildings

By: Philip Wilkinson | Illustrated by: Paolo Donati

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Full-color artwork, including cutaway illustrations and exploded views, explores some of the world's most famous architectural landmarks, including the Paris Opera, the Taj Mahal, and Grand Central Station. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Building (Eyewitness Books)

Building (Eyewitness Books)

By: Philip Wilkinson

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Discover the history of buildings — why they were built and the techniques used in their construction. Color photographs offer a unique view of buildings from the ground up. See incredible stone gargoyles, learn how stained glass is made, learn how medieval tiles were made, and discover what the three Greek "orders" were and how houses are built on mountainsides. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Building Big

Building Big

By: David Macaulay | Illustrated by: David Macaulay

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Why this shape and not that? Why steel instead of concrete or stone? Why put it here and not over there? These questions take [readers] back to the basic process of design from which all structures begin, from the realization of a need for the structure to the struggles of the engineers and designers to map out and create the final construction. The author engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day — bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Built to Last

Built to Last

By: David Macaulay

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Three books, each a sophisticated examination at how structures were built — a cathedral, castle, and mosque — have been revised, refreshed with current information, and put in one volume. The author/illustrator's work is complex but will intrigue young readers especially if shared with an adult.

Purchase book

The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers and Architects

The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers and Architects

By: Mario Salvadori

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Students discover the basic principles necessary to build all types of structures used in everyday life including bridges, skyscrapers, and other architectural gems. Line art illustrations help to explain projects that demonstrate how these principles keep structures solid. Perfect for kids who wonder why, and love to figure things out! All projects are easily done with materials found around-the-house. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

What It Feels Like to Be a Building

What It Feels Like to Be a Building

By: Forrest Wilson

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Have you ever felt squashed? Squeezed? Pulled? Tugged? If so, then you know what it feels like to be a building! Here, with playful drawings and humorous text, award-winning author Forrest Wilson uses human figures (plus some dogs and rams) to show that architecture and people have more in common than you might have believed. This book will delight everyone who is fascinated with the buildings around us.

Purchase book

More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Get tips (In English and 10 other languages) >

Downloadables

Downloadables

Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

Download and print >