Books About Houses and Homes

Reading recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar

I hope you and your family are doing well and staying safe during this unprecedented time. Since we’re all staying home a lot more than usual, why not explore all things related to houses and homes with your kids this month through books?

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

This classic book won the 1943 Caldecott medal. It tells the story (through beautifully detailed illustrations) of a little house that loves to watch the world around her. But as the city grows and the skyscrapers tower over her she becomes sad and wonders if she is useful any longer. A descendant of the original owner of the house saves her by having her relocated to a lovely hillside where she can watch the seasons go by again. The charm is in the intricate illustrations and the sweet simplicity of the story.

Home by Carson Ellis  and If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche

Both these books give glimpses into the many different ways to live. Laroche looks at different dwellings around the world from a floating house in the Netherlands to a House on Stilts in Chile to an Airstream Trailer in the USA. Carson Ellis imagines all different kinds of houses for people and animals. Some are fairytale (a shoe) and some are familiar.

If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen

If your kid likes to imagine the wildest thing possible, he will love this book by Chris Van Dusen. The narrator tells us all the things he wants in his house. A giant slide? A racetrack? Why not? The vibrant retro futuristic illustrations are fun and will remind parents of a certain generation of the Jetsons. (And if you like this one there are others in the If I Built a ….series)

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle  and Welcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na 

Don’t forget animal houses! Bear is tired of his own house so looks for a new house among animals around the world. Along the way he realizes his own house works perfectly for him. Hermit Crab decorates his shell home with sea creatures he meets as he crawls along the ocean floor.

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty  and Roberto the Insect Architect by Nina Laden

As the wife of an architect, I can’t forget the people who design the houses we all live in! Iggy Peck and Roberto are both young kids who have the itch to design and build.  (The twist with Roberto is that he’s a termite and his parents are a little embarrassed by this desire to build instead of chew and tear down.)

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

This wonderful chapter book tells the story of a close-knit and loving family who must fight to keep their Harlem brownstone. It’s the first in a series about the family and in the realistic depiction of a believably real family has been compared to classic books like The Moffats by Eleanor Estes or newer classics like The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. (The Moffats also features around having to leave a beloved home and move to a new house.) The Vanderbeekers are also notable for being a mixed-race family.