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Building Our House
Author and Illustrator: Jonathan Bean
Published January 8th, 2013 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Summary: Based on Jonathan Bean’s childhood experience, Building Our House follows a family who moves to a piece of land and builds their own home over the course of many years.

My Review: What an amazing story! It is even more amazing because it is based off of the author’s true childhood events. In the book, we follow the family from living in a trailer surrounded by bare land to living in their dream home. Though the summary seems so simple, it is much more than just watching a family build a home. It is about being determined, resilient, hardworking, a strong family, and patient. I also see it drawing in readers who are curious by building and tools. Finally, to make this story even better, the illustrations are so intricate and colorful which will also draw in readers (and has gotten it on Mock Caldecott lists).

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The story is told in a very sequential way and would be a great introduction or resource for teaching sequence. Then, I noticed as reading, that often there is more going on in the illustrations then is stated in the words. It would be a great activity to reinforce sequence to tell the other story to the story- the story told in the illustrations.

Discussion Questions: What character traits must the Mom and Dad have to work this long/hard on their dream home?; Put the main events in sequential order.; When was a time that your family came together to do something?

We Flagged: “Our crew works until the sun sets and the frame stands strong in the middle of the field. Mom makes places for everyone to sit around a fire. We eat and talk and play until the stars shine and the owls call.” (p. 24)

Read This If You Loved: Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand

Recommended For: 

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The building of his childhood home is a memory that has lasted for Jonathan Bean. If you were going to write a book about a moment or memory from your childhood, what would it be?

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