Michael Riscica is a licensed architect from Portland, Oregon, who has been advancing the profession with his blog YoungArchitect.com. He has written extensively about the architect exam and published the book How to Pass the Architect Registration Exam. Michael recently launched Young Architect Gear, his architecture-themed line of gifts apparel and products.
Each year, I volunteer for a program called Architects in Schools, which is sponsored by the Architecture Foundation of Oregon. Architects in Schools gives each of its design professionals a six-week residency in a Portland elementary school.
In my three years of volunteering with Architects in Schools, I’ve discovered that there are some amazing architecture books available for kids! Below is a list of these really great reads. Many of these books sit on my bookshelf, right next to my very complicated, nerdy books for fully grown architects.
Click on any of the links in the following collection to purchase the books of your choosing!
1. The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon and Stephen Biesty
The book provides detailed explanations of how iconic structures like the Pyramids of Giza came to be — including details about the people who made them happen. Accompanying the intriguing tales of constructing these architectural icons are fantastic illustrations that help bring the words and the structures to life on the page.
2. Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
This bestseller tells the story of the brilliant Iggy Peck, a young architect with a creative mind, a fantastic imagination and a penchant for building things. Iggy has to overcome various obstacles in his quest for architectural excellence — namely, the obstacle of doubt, from his Grade 2 teacher, no less. Iggy will inspire all who read this book to explore the architectural universe, regardless of who may doubt them.
3. Look at That Building!: A First Book of Structures by Scot Ritchie
A First Book of Structures introduces children to the building blocks of buildings — from foundations to beams, frames and other fundamental elements of any structure. It does so in a unique way — by telling a story of five friends who are seeking to build a doghouse for their dog, Max. Through detailed illustration and seamless, cartoon-esque dialogue, building a doghouse becomes a gateway for building everything!
4. How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons
The book delves right into the complexities of house-building, illustrating perfectly the teamwork involved and the different roles each vocation plays in construction. Surveyors, heavy-equipment operators, plumbers and carpenters are all introduced to the reader. As the chapters meander on through the construction process, each role is brilliantly illustrated, and finally a couple moves into the finished house — making it a home.
5. If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen
From the author of If I Built a Car, this inspiring read follows the whimsical, wonderful and imaginative mind of Jack, a young boy with a desire to build his own house — complete, of course, with racetrack and a gigantic slide. Jack’s creativity and enthusiasm, ever present in the dialogue, will surely inspire a young and creative mind.
6. The Future Architect’s Handbook by Barbara Beck
The Future Architect’s Handbook takes on a much different style to those before it in this list. It offers the aspiring architect a chance to see every step in the process of designing and building a house, covering the architect’s four main drawings: the Site Plan, Floor Plan, Section and Elevation. It even teaches the reader how to draw each plan to scale while introducing different design techniques used in modern architecture. It is ideal for children ages nine through 12, though adults may also garner inspiration from this book.
7. Cool Architecture: Filled With Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages by Simon Armstrong
This book is a filled with all kinds of interesting facts, from the Pyramids to the Corinthian column, from simple homes created by the earliest humans to the towering skyscrapers of New York. The book provides a learning environment where the reader is immersed in the architectural movements and advances throughout history, discovering the personalities that made them. It also takes the reader inside the world’s most iconic buildings, from Greece’s Parthenon to the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai.
8. Skyscrapers!: Super Structures to Design & Build by Carol A. Johmann
A book filled with fun activities, this book takes your child through the construction of a skyscraper, from concept to completion. It teaches problem-solving, as your child will have to navigate some of the issues that arise during skyscraper construction, ultimately guiding the reader through to the finished structure — a magnificent skyscraper.
9. Roberto, the Insect Architect by Nina Laden
Roberto is a young termite with a big dream: to become an architect. In the book, he faces adversity, from his other wood-eating friends doubting his abilities to trying to “make it” in the big bug city. Once there, though, he meets a slew of characters with nothing but encouragement for him and his dream. With fantastic illustrations, Roberto’s architectural dream is brought to life on the pages, as he and his newfound friends construct a community for themselves.
10. Under Every Roof: A Kid’s Style and Field Guide to the Architecture of American Homes by Patricia Brown Glenn
This all-encompassing book is a quintessential introduction for children to architecture. Turning the pages will teach them all about the modern architecture of America while answering many questions they may have about the world around them: “Why are some houses filled with small windows, while others seem to be nothing but windows?”; “Why do some people live in mansions, and others in mobile homes?” Along with a myriad of other questions, all are explored architecturally, with details about the different terms for the many buildings found in today’s America. Featuring more than 60 houses from 30 states, the book comes complete with watercolor illustrations that allow the text to flow, with a healthy injection of illustrative humor.
11. The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia
You’ve almost certainly read the Three Little Pigs or had that fairy tale read to you. It’s a timeless classic. This book takes that timeless classic and applies it to architecture! Each of the pig’s homes is built in the style of three infamous architects: Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright. Each house is filled with homages to each architect, down to furniture and minute details. Unfortunately, not all are going to be able to withstand the huffing, puffing wolf … But which one will? Find out inside!
12. Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva
The book follows the architectural adventures of Young Frank, who lives with his aptly named grandfather, Old Frank. Young Frank’s buildings like to weave, twist and spiral. That’s his style — despite disapproval from his “Architects Only Build Buildings!” Grandfather. The book tells of Frank’s quest to expand his architectural world to include his creativity, weaving, twisting and spiraling his way to architectural excellence.
13. Architecture According to Pigeons by Speck Lee Tailfeather
Ever wanted to see what the Colosseum of Rome looks like from above? Or the Taj Mahal? The Golden Gate Bridge? The Eiffel Tower? This book takes the reader on the journey of a pigeon — Speck — and his pigeon friends, flying around the world to the most famous architectural sites. It gives the reader a bird’s-eye view of the buildings while also providing in-depth details about their constructions.
14. The Aspiring Architect: An Activity Book for Kids by Travis Kelly Wilson
This activity book allows kids to explore the world of architecture. Filled with activities that engage the reader and teach them simple architectural concepts, it allows kids to be creative while exploring topics such as design, geography and architectural history. This 30-page book is mainly geared toward younger audiences less than 12 years old.
15. Steven Caney’s Ultimate Building Book by Steven Caney
Released in 2006, in typical architectural fashion, it had been a work in progress for the past decade. The Ultimate Building Book really is exactly that — the ultimate in the architecture of buildings! Curiosity-stimulants are abound in this book, which explores all of the aspects of architecture, brilliantly detailed and packed with exciting projects guaranteed to be fun for kids. It is overflowing with awesome and creative projects that, when finished, can be played with. It also displays how commonplace household tools can be used for construction and provides architectural insight into everything that is built — from the seemingly mundane (drinking straws) to the elaborate and historical Mongolian yurts.
This blog post was originally published at YoungArchitect.com.