Whether your kids have an interest in architecture or simply marvel at engineering, these eight picture books feature something for everyone. From drawing historical structures to Frank Lloyd Wright, strong female architects to seeing buildings from above, each book is an excellent building block to your child’s understanding of architecture and the places we live, work, play, sleep, gather, and eat in. If your kid constantly questions how buildings are made, bridges are born, and cities are planned, these books will not only help answer their questions, but entertain them and educate them in the process.
Maya Lin: Thinking with Her Hands, by Susan Goldman Rubin
Born in Ohio to Chinese parents, college student Maya Lin submitted an idea for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., thinking she didn’t stand a chance at winning the competition. Not only did she win, but she went on to become one of the most renowned architects of our time. Raised by a father who was a potter, Maya was used to thinking with her hands and building structures out of clay. This book takes you from her childhood to her current, and last, project, all while exploring American history, civics, art, and different cultures. An accessible biography for kids ages eight and up, this book is full of beautiful photos and makes an excellent addition to any home library.
The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright, by K.L. Going and Lauren Stringer
All architects were children at some point, including Frank Lloyd Wright. This picture book is full of colorful illustrations that reflect the era of Wright’s childhood, as well as the colors so often found in his work. The author deftly imagines his early years, from a young child playing with blocks and discovering the shapes each block made, to Wright exploring the shapes found in nature. The second half of the book shows the structures Wright built and their relationship to the natural world, ultimately revealing how he changed the shape of architecture.
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Iggy Peck, Architect, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
Iggy loves nothing more than building, no matter the materials on hand. When diapers become towering skyscrapers his mother is surprised, yet supportive. But when he meets his second-grade teacher, she forbids his building, citing her disinterest in architecture. Iggy becomes discouraged, and a little bit bored. He decides he loves building too much to give it up. He and his classmates construct a bridge to save the day while out on a picnic and Iggy’s talents are put to the test. The book features watercolor illustrations over graph paper images to create an architectural style that is approachable for kids and appealing to parents.
If I Built a House, by Chris Van Dusen
Has your child ever wished for a water slide down the stairs, or a trampoline in the kitchen? If so, they’ll perfectly relate to Jack. With a big imagination and a lot of enthusiasm, Jack wants to build the house of his dreams. With a racetrack and a flying room and the aforementioned slide, his would be the house of most kids’ dreams. The detailed illustrations provide retro, yet futuristic images that pair well with the text. Your kids will be inspired to design their own creative spaces before long.
Draw Me A House: A Book of Colouring in, Ideas, and Architectural Inspiration, by Thibaud Herem
If you have a kid with a budding interest in drawing buildings and designing spaces, this book is a great tool. With a range of architectural styles and all different types of structures, including an igloo, each page offers an opportunity to color, add, enhance, or re-imagine architecture. Going beyond just a building or large structure, the details are in here too—from doorknobs to lighting and to boats and bridges. Your child’s inner architect will be begging to come out and play.
Roberto: The Insect Architect, by Nina Laden
Roberto is a termite who isn’t living up to his job description. Instead of eating houses, he is building them. When this small-town insect moves to the big city, he has the freedom to pursue his passion of wanting to work with wood (amongst other materials). Creating neighborhoods for homeless insects and making beds for bed bugs are just some of his projects that bring him international fame. Witty and wry, parents will appreciate the references to known personalities, such as Hank Floyd Mite, and kids will enjoy looking for the pictures within the picture on every page.
Cool Architecture, by Simon Armstrong
When your kid wants just architecture facts, this is the non-fiction book to go to. Brimming with information and fun illustrations, readers will learn all about the various eras and styles of architecture. From Greece to Dubai and New York to medieval times, this book thoroughly covers architecture all around the world and throughout history. Prepare your passports, because your child may just want to take a trip to visit a few of their favorites after reading this book.
Architecture According to Pigeons, by Speck Lee Tailfeather
Before drones, we had pigeons. We still do, and it’s safe to say they have some of the best vantage points for viewing architecture. Lucky for us, this illustrated picture book gives us that bird’s-eye view of some of the world’s greatest buildings. Speck is a pigeon with a passion for great architecture, who knows all the facts when it comes to how some of the famous structures were built, including the number of stones in the Great Pyramids of Giza. From tall buildings to homes that are integrated with nature, Speck takes the reader on a great adventure of architecture from a slightly different perspective.
What books would you recommend to young architecture enthusiasts?