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Teaching Architecture to 3rd Graders.
Each year, I volunteer for a program called Architects in Schools, which is sponsored by the Architecture Foundation of Oregon. Architects in Schools gives each of its design professionals a 6-week residency in a Portland elementary school.
In my 3 years of volunteering with Architects in Schools, I’ve discovered that there are some amazing architecture books available for kids!!! Below is a list of these really great architecture books. Many of these books sit on my bookshelf, right next to my very complicated, nerdy books for Architects.
But first, I’ll give you a quick and dirty list of these books, then give you pictures and short explanations about each book.
15 Awesome Architecture Books for Kids (List Only)
- The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond
- Iggy Peck, Architect
- Look at That Building!: A First Book of Structures
- How A House is Built
- If I Built A House
- The Future Architect’s Handbook
- Cool Architecture: Filled with Fantastic Facts for Kids of all Ages
- Skyscrapers!: Super Structures to Design & Build
- Roberto, The Insect Architect
- Under Every Roof: A Kid’s Style and Field Guide to the Architecture of American Houses
- The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale
- Young Frank, Architect
- Architecture According to Pigeons
- The Aspiring Architect: An Activity Book for Kids
- Steve Caney’s Ultimate Building Book
15 Awesome Architecture Books for Kids (with Images and a Short Description)
1. The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon & Stephen Biesty
The book provides detailed explanations of how iconic structures, like the Pyramids of Giza came to be – including details about the people who made them happen. Accompanying the intriguing tales of the constructing of these architectural icons, are fantastic illustrations which help bring the words – and the structures to life on the page.
This bestseller tells the story of the brilliant Iggy Peck, a young architect with a penchant for building things, a creative mind, and a fantastic imagination. Iggy has to overcome various obstacles in his quest for architectural excellence – namely, the obstacle of doubt, from his Grade 2 teacher, no less. Iggy will inspire any and all who read this book to explore the architectural universe, regardless of who may doubt them.
A First Book of Structures introduces children to the building blocks of buildings – from foundations, to beams, frames and other fundamental elements of any structure. It does so in a unique way – by telling a story of five friends who’re seeking to build a doghouse for their dog, Max. Through detailed illustration and seamless, cartoon-esque dialogue, building a doghouse, becomes a gateway for building everything!
The book delves right into the complexities of house-building. Illustrating perfectly the teamwork involved, and the different roles each vocation plays in the construction of the house. Surveyors, heavy-equipment operators, plumbers and carpenters – among others, are all introduced to the reader. As the chapters meander on through the construction process, each role is brilliantly illustrated and conclusively, a couple moves into the finished house – to make it a home..
From the author of If I Built A Car, this inspiring read follows the whimsical, wonderful and imaginative mind of Jack – a young boy with a desire to build his own house! Complete, of course, with race track and a gigantic slide. Jack’s creativity and enthusiasm – ever present in the dialogue, will surely inspire a young and imaginative mind.
The Future Architect’s Handbook takes on a much different style to those before it in this list. It offers the aspiring architect a chance to see every step in the process of designing and building a house. Covering the architect’s four main drawings: the Site Plan, Floor Plan, Section and Elevation. It even teaches the reader how to draw each plan to scale, while introducing different design techniques used in modern architecture. It is ideal for children ages 9-12, though adults may also garner inspiration from this book.
This book is a filled with all kinds of interesting facts, from the Pyramids to the Corinthian column, from simple homes created by the earliest humans, to the towering skyscrapers of New York. The book provides a learning environment, where the reader is immersed in the architectural movements and advances throughout history, and the personalities that made them. It also takes the reader inside the most iconic buildings, from Greece’s Parthenon to the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai.
A book filled with fun activities, this book takes your child through the construction of a skyscraper, from concept to completion. It teaches problem-solving, as your child will have to navigate some of the issues that arise during skyscraper construction, ultimately, guiding the reader through to the finished structure – a magnificent skyscraper.
Roberto is a young termite with a big dream: to become an architect. In the book, he faces adversity, from his other wood-eating doubting his abilities, to trying to ‘make it’ in the big bug city. Although, once there he meets a slew of characters with nothing but encouragement for him and his dream. With fantastic illustration, Roberto architectural dream is brought to life on the pages, as he and his newfound friends construct a community for themselves.
10. Under Every Roof: A Kid’s Style and Field Guide to the Architecture of American Homes by Patricia Brown Glenn
This all-encompassing book, is a quintessential introduction for children to architecture. Turning the pages will teach them all about the modern architecture of America, while answering many questions they may have about the world around them – “Why are some houses filled with small windows? While others seem to be nothing but windows?” “Why do some people live in mansions, and others in mobile homes?” Along with myriad other questions, all are explored architecturally, with details about the different architectural terms for the many buildings found in today’s America – featuring more than sixty houses from 30 states. Complete with watercolour illustrations that allows the text to flow, with a healthy injection of illustrative humour.
You’ve almost certainly read “The Three Little Pigs”, actually, you’ve probably had that fairytale read to you – it’s a timeless classic. Well, this book takes that timeless classic, and applies it to architecture! Each of the pig’s homes are built in the style of three infamous architects: Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright. Each house is filled with homages to each architect, down to furniture and minute details. Unfortunately, not all are going to be able to withstand the huffing, puffing wolf… But which one will? Find out inside!
The book follows the architectural adventures of Young Frank, who lives with his aptly-named grandfather, Old Frank. Young Frank’s buildings like to weave and twist and spiral, that’s his style – despite disapproval from his “Architects only build buildings!” Grandfather, the book tells of Frank’s quest to expand his architectural world to include his creativity, weaving, twisting and spiralling his way to architectural excellence.
Ever wanted to see what the Colosseum of Rome looks like from above? Or the Taj Mahal? The Golden Gate Bridge? The Eiffel Tower? This book takes the reader on the journey of a pigeon – Speck – and his pigeon friends, flying around the world to the most famous architectural sites. Giving the reader a bird’s-eye view of the buildings, while also providing in-depth details about it’s construction.
This activity book allows kids to explore the world of architecture. Filled with activities that engage the reader – teaching them simple architectural concepts, it allows them to be creative while exploring topics such as Design, Geography and Architectural History. This thirty-page book is mainly geared towards younger (<12 y/o) audiences.
Released in 2006, in typical architectural fashion – it had been a work-in-progress for the past decade. The Ultimate Building Book really is exactly that – the ultimate in the architecture of buildings! Curiosity-stimulants are abound in this book, that explores all of the aspects of architecture, brilliantly detailed and packed with exciting projects guaranteed to be fun for kids! It is overflowing with awesome and creative projects that, when finished, can be played with! It also displays how commonplace household tools can be used for construction, and provides architectural insight into everything that is built – from the seemingly mundane (drinking straws), to the elaborate and historical Mongolian yurts.
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