11 Books to Hook Tweens on Architecture

Great Books About Architecture for Children Ages 7-12

A girl give a photogenic kiss to the great Sphinx in the Giza Necropolis
Blow a Kiss to the Sphinx in Egypt. Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images

Children who are old enough to read and to complete simple crafts may be ready for these fun and educational books about buildings and home design. For a total experience, combine quiet reading time with activities that let the child put ideas into action. Great books about architecture and engineering for younger children may be a more appropriate introduction for some, but the following books can be a great starting point for examining "the built environment" in which we all live.

Author Barbara Beck is a real, live architect who wrote this book because it's what she needed when she was 8 years old. It tells the story of design and construction, the different "plans" that architects devise, and how concepts are turned into reality. Buy this book along with the well-known DVD video by "Bill Nye the Science Guy," and you have a great set to inform and inspire.

Princeton Architectural Press continues to publish winning "informational picture books" by French writer, designer, and illustrator Didier Cornille. The most enticing book may be Who Built That? Modern Houses. Subtitled An Introduction to Modern Houses and Their Architects, this book may not illustrate the house you live in, but Cornille's choices should evoke lively conversation, especially the inclusion of Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban's Cardboard House.

The companion Who Built That? books may be easier sells to your youngster: Skyscrapers: An Introduction to Skyscrapers and Their Architects and Bridges: An Introduction to Ten Great Bridges and Their Designers. Who doesn't like bridges and skyscrapers?

How do they wiggle?  Like a Fish! Designed to awe and inspire, this jewel of a book by Philip M. Isaacson combines lyrical language with lush, detailed photographs. Young readers will gain appreciation for the unique features that give famous buildings their beauty and character.

Subtitled A Kids' Style and Field Guide to the Architecture of American Houses, this 112 page book published by Wiley has 170 color drawings and descriptions of more than thirty different house styles. Author Patricia Brown Glenn explains why houses take on particular features, and also provides information for historic houses kids can visit.

A lively mix of activities, crafts, and biographical information, this fun book lets children experience the life and work of America's most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Illustrations of Wright's buildings appear throughout the book.

From the Kids' Career Library (Rosen Publishing), this 24-page picture book describes what architects do during a typical day. Do your children think architecture is for boys? This slim little volume by Mary Bowman-Kruhm puts a woman architect in the spotlight. One can only wonder why it's not been updated since 1999....

These 6-inch wide notepads were made for smaller hands to sketch big geometric forms. Each of the 3 pads has 150 blank sheets of graph paper, so all you need is one package for three kids to have an afternoon of creative fun — yourself included. This is another gem from Princeton Architectural Press.

Lucy Dalzell's 2014 book tells a long tale about architecture. Subtitled A Wallbook of Architecture through the Ages, twenty pages flip out like a concertina timeline of history to pin to a wall. You can finger swipe and pinch the pages of your digital device, but a tablet can never be an accordion book.

Subtitled From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond, this book is David Macaulay-like in its approach. With text by Patrick Dillon and meticulous illustrations by Stephen Biesty, this 96-page book published by Candlewick in 2014 is a whirlwind global tour of the kinds of things humankind has built on the planet.

This book by photographer Todd McLellan is not technically about architecture, but it is what architects and engineers think about — how can we put pieces together to build something bigger than its individual parts? McLellan displays each component of a familiar design — a camera, a clock, a bicycle — all apart, before being assembled. It's as if all the materials to build a house had just arrived in your town by rail — oh, just like bungalows by mail order in the early 1900s.

Architects are always writing books, because they're always thinking and they want you to know what they're thinking about. Marc Kushner is no exception, but his book is. He tells us that the smartphone along with social media allows an instantaneous sharing of not only digital phhotos but of ideas — buildings that already exist in our built environment. Some of his architectural picks for the future of architecture in his book of 100 buildings can be used as a starting point for communication, to hear what the next generation of architects, designers, and consumers think about the world in which we live.

Architects often speak about "the built environment," because that is what they do — build the environments in which we live. A child's early understanding of this will help throughout life, no matter what profession entered. "You cannot love architecture," writes critic Paul Goldberger in Why Architecture Matters, "without caring about how buildings look, and taking pleasure in that."

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Craven, Jackie. "11 Books to Hook Tweens on Architecture." ThoughtCo, Nov. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/books-to-hook-tweens-on-architecture-178440. Craven, Jackie. (2017, November 12). 11 Books to Hook Tweens on Architecture. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/books-to-hook-tweens-on-architecture-178440 Craven, Jackie. "11 Books to Hook Tweens on Architecture." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/books-to-hook-tweens-on-architecture-178440 (accessed November 21, 2017).