Early Elementary Books

Theme: Building Things

Amazing Impossible Erie Canal - (ISBN: 978-0689825842)

by Cheryl Harness

While chronicling the digging and construction of the canal, this author offers readers a slice of cultural history. She combines pictures, maps, and other graphics with her words to follow this project from the moment of conception to its present state of disuse. She creatively names the many types of workers who contributed to the building and teaches readers about how locks work, how the canals in New York intersect, and how the swamp where the canal was built contributed to the deaths of some of the tradesmen. See if there are any canals in your state and make a family visit. Maybe even try building a small canal in your sandbox or backyard dirt!

Brooklyn Bridge - (ISBN: 978-0689831836)

by Lynn Curlee

This non-fiction picture book details all the steps and specifications of building this great New York bridge. The illustrations make it accessible to the very young, but the explanations and technical vocabulary add appeal for older children as well. Where have you seen such a large bridge?

Jobs People Do -- A Day in a Life of a Builder - (ISBN: 978-0789473639 )

by Linda Hayward

This beginning-level reader leads children through the steps of building five houses and personalizes the construction of one family’s home. Many photographs and clear writing offer a positive reading and learning experience. Help your budding reader recognize a few “building” words as you go through the pages here several times.

Shapes in Buildings: Spot the Shape - (ISBN: 978-1432921781)

by Rebecca Rissman

Readers review their knowledge of basic shapes by seeing how they create a variety of buildings. The book tours buildings constructed around the world as children learn new words, shapes, and the beginning mathematical and geometry concepts. Try drawing some basic shapes and see what you can create from them. Or use your building blocks to make unusually shaped creations!

Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building - (ISBN: 978-0375836107 )

by Deborah Hopkinson

Told from the point of view of a young child, the building of this New York landmark proceeds skillfully, told in free verse. Details include the sky, the community of birds among the rafters, and the occasionally scary view of the workers. Imagine walking atop a skyscraper under construction; how do you think you would feel?

A Walk in New York - (ISBN: 978-0763638559)

by Salvatore Rubbino

A Year at a Construction Site - (ISBN: 978-1580137959)

by Nicholas Harris

Building a House with Mr. Bumble - (ISBN: 9780763600747)

by John Wallace

Building an Igloo - (ISBN: 978-0805063134)

by Ulli Steltzer

Activities for this Theme

Read about the building of the Great Wall of China on this interactive, illustrated site.


If you are lucky enough to live in or visit the greater New York City metropolitan area, visit the Skyscraper Museum.


Make a bridge using crayons and clay


Make a drawing of an igloo you can construct when/if you have enough snow next winter! Or build one from clay or marshmallows if you live in a warm area.