Building Our House

housecoverWritten and Illustrated by Jonathan Bean

A girl’s family leaves the city for a spot in the country, where they live in a small trailer while mom and dad build a timber frame house from scratch. The narrative and illustrations go step-by-step through the process of building the house, from setting the corners of the foundation by starlight, to framing, wiring, and finally moving in.

This is a simple and enveloping narrative that is notable for showing young people almost everything that it takes to build a house. This is very informative for children who have never seen a house built, and it is a practical display of math and engineering skills in action not just “close to home” but actually in the home. The final pages give an Author’s Note accompanied by vintage family photographs, in which he reveals that this story is based on his own family’s experience during his early childhood. His parents built a timber-frame house after having read a book explaining how to do it. I love how this book could be used to show the connections between the extremely traditional activity of building your own shelter and current DIY and Maker “trends,” showing them not to be trends but extensions of what humans have been doing for thousands of years. Gives an empowering message that with study, planning, resourcefulness, and work, ordinary people can and do make great and useful things.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Granite School District Library Media Program
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 1 and Up

Author Website:

Building Our House
Written by Jonathan Bean Jonathan Bean
Farrar Straus Giroux
48 pages
Release Date: January 8, 2013
ISBN: 9780374380236 (hardcover)

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