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Building Our House

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,452 Ratings  ·  222 Reviews
In this unique construction book for kids who love tools and trucks, readers join a girl and her family as they pack up their old house in town and set out to build a new one in the country. Mom and Dad are going to make the new house themselves, from the ground up. From empty lot to finished home, every stage of their year-and-a-half-long building project is here. And at ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Journey by Aaron BeckerThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew DaywaltThe Dark by Lemony SnicketFlora and the Flamingo by Molly IdleMr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter  Brown
2014 Mock Caldecott
13th out of 79 books — 223 voters
The Little House by Virginia Lee BurtonIn a People House by Dr. SeussCome Over to My House by Dr. SeussHouse Held Up by Trees by Ted KooserThe Great Blue House by Kate Banks
Picture books about houses
12th out of 52 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,095)
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Jan 23, 2013 Elisabeth rated it liked it
The subject matter does nothing for me (other than, as an adult, stress me out a little) but I appreciated the charming details in the illustrations. Being told from a child's perspective, it seems like one big adventure and I could do with a little more of their pioneering spirit! The Author's Note is not to be missed - it's very touching.
Alex Baugh
May 20, 2013 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
You know how kids can watch workers on a construction site long periods of time? Well, Jonathan Bean has written a book that should appeal to these construction site kids. Loosly based on the recollections of the house built by the author's parents when he was a child, the story takes the reader through building a house step by step through the eyes of the young girl who is going to live there.

It is a house built from scratch, in the middle of a field. The family, Mom, Dad, big sister/narrator,
Ziwei Cheng
Nov 07, 2014 Ziwei Cheng rated it it was amazing
Long time ago, there had been a family which bought an old field to build the house there. They asked their family relatives for help. A lot of family members came to help, and they totally built this house by themselves. They built this house in different seasons, no matter what worst weather they had been through, the family members never gave up building their house.

This is actually a true story happening in life. The author is the little boy there. The whole book uses a comic style to demo
Jim Erekson
Apr 08, 2014 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
Shelves: informational
I would call this informational biography. The story is drawn from Bean's life, although his narrator is the unnamed little girl. Heavy nostalgia permeates the entire telling, making building your own home with no other place to live seem like the most idyllic thing any family could do. It draws on a tradition of this theme that reaches out to the Little House books, Walden, and others. The cartoon outlines give the book a graphic novel feel, or Virginia Lee Burton.

Bean controls the pacing by b
May 13, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, monarch-award
I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't help but notice the mother cat had kittens while the house was being built.
Aug 29, 2014 Florian rated it liked it
This unique children's book outlines the process of building a house. The family is intimately involved in every process, from the design to construction.

House building is entirely foreign to me, a lifelong city dweller who comes from a family of not so handy people, so this story was fascinating in its depiction of construction from scratch.

This would be an excellent book for young people interested in architecture and construction, or for those who want to know where their house came from.
Technically this is a picture storybook, but I'm putting it on my nonfiction shelf because it has tons of interesting information. A kid describes each step as his family builds a house, from laying pipes to bring the water to digging out the basement and pouring the foundation to notching the lumber so the boards fit tightly. Love seeing both mom and dad working with tools.

I'm not sure how many houses are built by family and friends in a frame-raising party, but the process of how to build a ho
Sarah Foote
Every page is different and has a purpose. Some pages or even two together illustrate one message, such as the first illustrating the leaving of the city and moving to the country. Other pages however have three or more different illustrations to depict different tasks when building a house. The text gives detail to whom the characters are, who is telling the story and the actions difficult to interpret from picture alone, such as the father planning the corners of the house off the location of ...more
Heather Langendorff
Building Our House, by Jonathon Bean, is a story about a family who picks up and moves from the city into the country. The family works really hard together to build a new home that will be comfortable for all members of the house. The wheat field that mom and dad bought from a farmer is a big emphasis on the illustrations because it is where the house is being built and I think the author wants the reader to know its importance. The family is of great significance to this story. The little girl ...more
Jan 24, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it
A lovely mix of the practical details ("The concrete and rock will shape the foundation that will support the frame and make for a solid house.") true for all building projects, along with the lyrical ("One wall will face north to ward off the wind, one east to welcome the morning...") that make this into one particular family's story.

The Author's Note and family photos are not to be missed.
Anna Kozlowska
Oct 05, 2015 Anna Kozlowska rated it really liked it
Shelves: monarch-books
‘This is my Monarch Award 2016 Book.'
Jonathan Bean tells his family’s story about building their dream house. The author shows the step-by-step construction process of making a house, including all the necessary tools, machines and workers. The book contains a strong art element, as the illustrations vividly portray Bean’s family working together including his pregnant mom and other family members. The book is suitable for 2nd or 3rd graders, as it contains good vocabulary terms about construct
Jennifer Miera
Jan 19, 2013 Jennifer Miera rated it really liked it
I really like this book because this would also be my dream - to move to the country and build our own house. The illustrations are charming (check each page for the white cat)and detailed. I also love that it's based on the author's family and shows real photographs of his family during their home-building experience. My 5-year-old is really digging this book.
Daniel Middleton
Oct 14, 2014 Daniel Middleton rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This book brings back fond memories of when we built our own house (though not with our own hands of course). The story starts out with the family leaving the big city and staking out a claim in the country to start a brand new life, a journey exactly like that of my own family. Building Our House, while never preachy, will help children to begin to establish a sense of what true value is, and beyond that, they will learn what it takes to construct a house from start to finish!

The artwork is dec
Rereading this for Thom's picture book illustration class makes me love it even more. I love the large format of the book and small format of many of the sections of pages; the evolution of the house and the narrator, and the mother's pregnancy. What isn't to love about this brilliant, wonderful story?
Mar 02, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
“One wall will face north to ward off the wind, one east to welcome the morning, one south to soak in the sun, and one west to see out the day.”

Based on a true story and told through the eyes of a young girl, the reader follows a family as they decide to leave the city and build a home of their very own in the country.

As the story is told and the season’s change, the reader can see exactly what is involved in building a home and how with the help of family and friends - a little girl, her broth
Collin Powell
In Building Our House a family made a big move out of the town onto a farm where they build their home by themselves. We are told the details of the different parts of the project throughout the year. It’s based on a true story and includes photos taken by the family while they were working on their house.
I think the author wanted to share the story of his family working together to construct their home, and the book also contains quite a bit of factual information needed to complete a project l
Kathy Ellen Davis
Jan 24, 2013 Kathy Ellen Davis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Loved this book!
Maybe because my Dad's a carpenter?
Maybe because it's the whole life cycle of building a house?
Maybe it doesn't matter.

I just love it!

Haiku Review:

My family arrives
with plans, and hands to do work.
This will be our home.
A long, informative picture book about a family building a house from the ground up. Extremely well done with many details and extras in the illustrations. How great is it that the family ages/grows over the course of the year and a half it takes to build the house? And that the cat has kittens? Bonus points for the author's note and photos. Nothing but happy faces when I told the kids details from it.

Somewhat challenging as a readaloud because it is long and you will need to stop along the way
Dorothy Carder
Feb 27, 2014 Dorothy Carder rated it it was amazing
This book is great for telling the timeline with words and illustrations of how a house is built. This would be a good book to read to a child whose home is being built or for one who likes to build things themselves. It shows the evolution and timeline involved in building a house and also of a family, as the pictures progress to show the mother in the story being pregnant and then holding a newborn baby in her arms towards the end. The book seemed to hold some factual knowledge of how to build ...more
Anne-thomas Donnelly
Feb 06, 2014 Anne-thomas Donnelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: caldecott
The book Building Our House by Jonathan Bean was sweet book about a family moving and building a new house together. It narrated by the youngest girl in the family who tells us everyone in the family's role while building their new home. Not only do the words on the page tell us this story, the illustrations throughout the book really help us get a picture of who everyone is and what all is going on. The illustrations cover the page with great colors and life like people. I loved how in each pag ...more
Bambini Travel
Dec 31, 2014 Bambini Travel rated it really liked it
Inspired by an amazing true story, Building Our House is the story of a family that buys a piece of land and slowly builds their own house. Step by step the reader is walked through what it takes to build a house. The tools, the foundation, the insides, and most importantly the time. An afterward shares Jonathan Bean's story that he remembers primarily through photographs taken during the five years it took his parents to build their home. He tells the story through the eyes of his oldest sister ...more
Oct 13, 2014 Michele rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This picture book is based upon the author's actual experience of growing up in a family building their own house. The detailed story outlines everything including moving away from the city to digging the basement to putting up the frame to painting the walls and moving their furniture. Even the laying of pipe and and wires to the house are noted. I read this book to several groups of first, second, and third graders. They all loved it. The illustrations provided several little details to watch, ...more
R. C.
Mar 11, 2014 R. C. rated it it was amazing
This book is a fantastic overview for preschoolers of the steps of building one's home from scratch by hand. There's a sweet surprise and sub-story to look out for in the illustrations, too. I liked it even better when I turned to the last page and saw photos of the author's childhood. It's a true story! My eight-year-old desperately wants to move to the woods and build his own home, and this book was a great starting point for him as he began to sort out how one goes about doing such a big task ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Roxanne rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
This was cute, but it was really really long - not age-appropriate for my child (who pulled it off the shelf at the library). Also, the whole time I was reading it to her I couldn't help thinking that anyone who would build their own house themselves while still working a day job and living on the construction site with two small children and a third on the way had to be completely crazy. I saw that this was based on the author's own family and I'm sure they must have great stories, but wow, cra ...more
May 05, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
The art and the story worked beautifully together showing a progression in the family and the house they built over an 18-month period. At the end is a note by the author providing more details behind the real adventure his parents and family took in building their home together.

I appreciated the flow of the seasons and how many more people participated in building the house than the original four members. Bits of building and life wisdom were also sprinkled throughout with ease.

I read this alo
Mar 24, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it
A family of 4 is moving from the city to the country, where they will have to build their house. They live in a trailer until their house is finished, and their father still goes to his job in the city during the week, and can only work on the house on the weekends. This book shows all the steps to building a house from foundation up and what hard work it truly is. The book shows how the crew measures the beams, and how the blueprints guide the way to making the inside of a house. This is a very ...more
Ann Haefele
Jan 09, 2014 Ann Haefele rated it it was amazing
This picture book will appeal to all those interested in construction, construction trucks, and tools, and also to those who love great family stories. The author creates a story told through the eyes of a young girl about a family moving from the city to the country to build their own house. This is based on the memories of the author whose family actually did this over five years. This family all helps by gathering lumber from the sawmill, collecting piles of rocks, and bringing loads of sand ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Amelia rated it it was amazing
Based on his parent’s experience building their house, Jonathan Bean brings to life the entire construction process. Starting with a blank unbroken field, the family toils and perseveres. Through rain, wind, and snow, they lay the foundation, raise the frame, and add the roof, windows, siding, and insulation, until they can finally move in. Lots of muted colors lend an understated tone, and the illustrations and story combine to bring a warm feeling to your heart. Look for the tiny details (such ...more
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Lexile Level: AD820L
Pages: 44

Summary: Family leaves the city to move to the country where they stay in a trailer while their house is being built. The family helps build the new home too.

Recommendations or Comments: This book seemed dated to me. The style and look was 1970ish. If it had a modern feel to it I think more kids would be inspired to follow in the author’s footsteps instead of learning about the experience that happened a long time ago. Personally I think this would be a great endeavo
Jan 22, 2016 Beverly rated it it was amazing
Reviewed for Mock Caldecott Awards. I loved this book. The illustrations were wonderful and the story line was so sweet. The book was actually written about the author's family who actually did buy some property, build a house and live in a little trailer while they were doing it. The pictures conveyed even more than the story talked about (ie the mother is pregnant and has a baby but that is never mentioned--you just see it in the pictures). What I loved most about the story was that everyone g ...more
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