This is the next in an ongoing series of topic related posts which are aimed at helping educators to find books which are suitable accompaniments to their topic based projects in school.
I tend to steer away from recommending non-fiction works, as these are much easier for you to search on using Amazon or other book sites, given that the majority of non fiction topic books will have key words in the title. It’s not so easy with works of fiction.
Our Early Years unit are currently doing a project on building and construction and these are some of the Key Stage One books we have discovered which you may want to use if you are doing a similar project yourselves.
I will indicate where I have read the book in question. If I do not mention it, I have not read it, and I would advise you to read all the books in question before you give them to children just to double check they are fit for purpose.
If you have any recommendations I have missed, please feel free to drop them in the comments box below the post.
When I create a list like this for Key Stage Two readers I generally suggest whether the book would be suitable for guided reading (length is the main criteria here, as it will need to be started and finished within the topic parameters and in school time), and whether it is suitable for girls or boys or both. With Key Stage One books this is less problematic as the books tend to be simpler, shorter and more universal in appeal. If I think a book has a specific bias or there is an issue with gender I will point it out. Otherwise all the books are suitable for everyone.
Bob The Builder – There are a great number of picture books, activity books, sticker books etc, which are all concerned with the children’s television character Bob the Builder. The authors are pretty irrelevant frankly, as the text is part of a mass marketing campaign that sells spin off products from the television series. I would not normally recommend television spin off products, as I have generally found the quality to be significantly lower in terms of narrative etc, but these are absolutely perfect for a topic like this. You will also find that the children are already familiar with the characters etc, and therefore engage more quickly with what you are trying to tell/show them. There are also a huge number of other products available, all linked to the television series/books, which can support your topic and make it much easier to teach/resource.
There are also websites, interactive games etc on the web, and you could, in fact, build your entire topic around Bob should you desire.
Building a House by Byron Barton – This is a simple, colourful picture book about the process of building a house. It is aimed at the toddler/pre school market, but would work just as well for early years children.
The Three Little Pigs – This is a traditional fairy tale, and as such is available in hundreds of different styles and formats. It is another story which has plenty of online resources available as well as lesson plans etc, and which is perfectly suited for teaching a large chunk of a topic like building on. The school I work in used this story, both as a story told by reading a book to the children, and as a story told to the children by a story teller (me). The children also had a go at telling the story themselves.
The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas – This is a modern retelling of the Three Little Pigs story, in which the wolves are the innocent victims of a horrible pig. The story is funny and clever and never fails to entertain small children, or me, as I read it to them. It is a perfect partner text if you are already teaching The Three Little Pigs.
Goodbye House by Ann Banks and Nancy Evans – a hands on activity and story book about what it feels like for a child to move house. Slightly off topic, but could be used to flesh out the topic should you feel you haven’t got enough meat on the bones of the original remit.
This is the House That Jack Built – A traditional, repetitive story rhyme, that is again, only tangentially linked to the original topic, but could be used to great effect to help children learn rhymes and songs and which is fun to teach.
The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith – A modern re-telling of The Three Little Pigs story told in journalistic form with excellent humour and wickedly good illustrations. It would work beautifully with the original Three Little Pigs story and the retelling of The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas.
Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden – This is a book that is really suitable for Key Stage 2 readers, but is perfect for a project on building/architecture/construction. It tells the story of a young girl who comes from abroad to live with an English family, and struggles to fit in. She is sent a parcel containing two Japanese dolls, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, and starts a project to build a Japanese dolls house for them. At the back of the book are the instructions for actually creating a Japanese dolls house of your own. This is a very old fashioned story, but I loved it as a child and it would be a wonderful book to base a topic on. This book is currently available either as a Kindle download or second hand through Amazon sellers.
The Busy Building Book by Sue Tarsky – This is an early years/toddler picture book which shows what goes on at a building site. This particular book is out of print, although available second hand at reasonable prices through Amazon. There are however, an enormous amount of pre school/early years picture books all of which cover this kind of topic, some of which are still in print.
The Hidden House by Martin Waddell – This young children’s picture book is currently out of print, although there are copies available through Amazon sellers for a penny each. It tells the story of an old man who lives in a tiny wooden house in the woods. He finds three dolls and decides to give them a home. This is the story of the dolls as they sit at the window waiting for the man to come back to the house he shares with them.
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg – This tells the story of two ants who decide to leave their ant colony home and go exploring. It shows you an ants eye view of your home, and the perilous journey the ants undertake on their exploration.
A Year At A Construction Site by Nicholas Harris – showing how a building site changes over time and what happens when a hole in the ground turns into a building.
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker – What happens when the construction site closes for the night and all the machinery needs to be put away? A colourful pre school/early years picture and story book.