Lost in the race to raise the greatest STEM geniuses on earth is the fact that that acronym isn’t just a stand-in for “coding.” Shockingly, science, technology, engineering, and math (and, increasingly, art) have a wide variety of non-digital applications. Like, say, building the houses and offices that all those developers and app designers will one day live and work in. There are also a wide variety of non-digital ways to teach kids about those skills. Like, say, these 9 books about builders, otherwise known as architects.
Iggy Peck ArchitectIggy’s parents have encouraged their architecture prodigy since his first Leaning Tower of dirty diapers, but his second grade teacher bans the subject. When the class gets stranded on an island during a field trip, only Iggy can build a bridge to save them, proving you should never give up on your dream of pretending to be an architect, no matter who tries to crush it.
Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty ($11)
If I Built A HouseAfter realizing his part-boat, part-submarine, part-rocket from the E.B. White Award-winning If I Built A Car needed somewhere to park, young Jack imagined up the world’s wackiest playhouse since Pee-wee. It’s got a huge slide, flying room, and of course a racetrack, and will inspire your kid to dream up their own outlandish ways to piss off the zoning department.
If I Built A House by Chris Van Dusen ($13)
Young Frank, ArchitectYoung Frank teaches Old Frank that architects are creative artists, not just building makers, in this touching tale/shameless plug for the MoMA. Young Frank builds towers from any materials he can find, so don’t be surprised if your child is inspired to test the structural integrity of their next short stack of pancakes.
Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva ($13)
HomeCarson Ellis’ picture book debut explores the places people call home, including a certain shoe that houses so many children it’s a wonder TLC hasn’t sent a camera crew there. If Ellis’ style looks familiar, you’re either an indie rock fan or a fantasy-loving tween; she’s the artist for the Decemberists and created the Wildwood Chronicles with her husband and the band’s frontman, Colin Meloy.
Home by Carson Ellis ($12)
How A House Is BuiltYou should buy this book and read it to your kid if for no other reason than, “Daddy hires a bunch of guys who know what they’re doing” is not a reasonable answer to the question. Also because it describes the roles of surveyors, heavy machinery operators, carpenters, and plumbers, all of which are sweet union gigs.
How A House Is Built by Gail Gibbons ($8)
Roberto The Insect ArchitectA small town termite who wants to build with wood, not eat it, goes on a “bright lights, Bug City” journey of self discovery and awesome insect puns to achieve his dream. Kids will come back to find what they previously missed in the mixed-media collages of mashed-up skylines and iconic buildings. Also, for gems like the architect “Hank Floyd Mite.” Shoot puns, not guns, kids.
Roberto The Insect Architect by Nina Laden ($14)
Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni GaudiThis biography details how an early love for nature shaped the life and work of the architect whose signature building has been under construction since 1883. Your kid will either get the wrong idea about procrastination, demand to be put on the first plane to Spain, or revolutionize architecture by seamlessly weaving nature into art. One out of 3 shot.
Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez and Julie Paschkis ($13)
The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural TaleIf your child would seriously question the architectural trustworthiness of a pig with a house made of straw … actually that has nothing to do with this list but have them send in an application because they sound hilarious. The pigs and their homes in this version allude to Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Does falling water deter wolves as well as bricks?
The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia ($15)
Sunrise To High-RiseA gorgeous timeline of the most revolutionary, iconic, or otherwise postcard-worthy buildings since the New Stone Age. If your kids still don’t think architecture is the mother of all arts, as Frank Lloyd Wright famously said, well, at least they might be inspired to be an illustrator.
Sunrise to High-Rise by Lucy Dalzell ($16)