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Cheaper by the Dozen

(Cheaper by the Dozen #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  34,713 ratings  ·  1,772 reviews
Adapted into two classic motion pictures, this bestselling memoir is the unforgettable story of two parents, twelve kids, and a world of laughter and love.

Translated into more than fifty languages, Cheaper by the Dozen is the unforgettable story of the Gilbreth clan as told by two of its members. In this endearing, amusing memoir, siblings Frank Jr. and Ernestine capture t
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 28th 2002 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1948)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  34,713 ratings  ·  1,772 reviews


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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Goodness, I loved this book when I was a young teen, and I read it more times than I can count. I still have the ancient paperback copy of this book and its sequel, Belles on Their Toes, on my basement bookshelves. It's worth grabbing on sale if you like humorous, nostalgic memoirs.

It's a (semi-)factual account of the Gilbreth family, growing up in the early 1900s. The parents were both well-known engineers and "efficiency experts" who tried, with mixed success, to apply their theories and ideas
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Rebecca
Forget that wretched Steve Martin movie and read the charming original. Authored by two of the 12, this is the first of two memoirs about a large family’s madcap adventures. In tone it reminded me most of Gerald Durrell’s The Corfu Trilogy.

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were pioneers in the field of motion study, often hired as efficiency experts for industry – and they ran their home like a well-oiled machine too. Nevertheless, there was more than enough love and humor to go around. Frank was the k
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Chrissie
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Read this book to meet the father and the rest of the Gilbreth family. A family with twelve kids! He is an efficiency expert designing machines and organizing tasks so time and in turn money can be saved. The Mom works alongside him as an industrial organizational psychologist. It is watching the family as a whole that is the attraction of the book. I guarantee you will laugh.

We are given a real family, albeit exceptional because of its size. They live in Montclair, New Jersey, Providence, Rhod
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Frederick
I read this as a school assignment when I was in the sixth grade. I think it was first published in 1948. I have seen, within the last year, about a half hour of the old fifties-era movie of it, starring Clifton Webb as the beloved father. I have not seen the Steve Martin one. (If I'm not wrong, there's a second one with him, too.)
I grant that this extremely light memoir of family life in pre-World War One America paints an extremely rosy picture, but it is not unrealistic. There is room in this
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Sarah Law
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
HILARIOUS. An AWESOME story. Anyone who has a family, or wants to have a family, will love this book. Especially people with a lot of kids in their family (my mom) or very eccentric dads (me).

This is the true story of a family of twelve children, whose father is a motion study expert and believes that what applies to workers in a factory also applies to children at home, and vice versa.

Mykle and I are reading this together right now, and we cannot turn a page without him busting up laughing.

Th
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Cheryl
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yup, still as delightful as it was when I was a kid. Somehow I missed, back then, that Mother, too, was an engineer. And the bonus of re-reading it now is that I can go online and find out that the Time-Motion analyses were real, and even see some of the films and promotional pictures. My family values efficiency & economy to a very high degree, but we're pikers compared to Gilbreth. I would have loved to learn Morse code the way these kids did! Really too bad Dad died so young, but many men ...more
Lawrence A
Sep 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Although this book was sold to me as a 7th-grader as a "heartwarming" memoir of children raised by an efficiency expert, I realized not too long thereafter that the book presented an insidious hidden agenda. In real life, the Gilbreth father was an acolyte of efficiency engineer Frederick "Speedy" Taylor (1856-1915), considered the founder of "the theory of scientific management." Taylorism, as it had come to be called, destroyed the craft underpinnings of much of the manufacturing industry in t ...more
Alexandra
11/12/17 $1.99 for Kindle version.
Beverly
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kellyn Roth
This is one of the more hilarious books ever! It's also an incredible history of an incredible family. The Gilbreths are absolutely incredible, and their stories are ridiculous to the point of unbelievability ... but they're true!

Mr. Gilbreth (Dad) is the best, but I really like Ernestine, too ... and Anne ... and Mrs. Gilbreth is pretty neat ... and everyone else. xD

I'm not going to try to list all the amazing stuff about this book ... you should read it yourself! :)

~Kellyn Roth, Reveries Revie
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Sara
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this years ago and enjoyed it a lot.
DeEllen
Jun 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Teaching Ideas From Cheaper by the Dozen
DeEllen Stowell

This book made me laugh and think all at the same time. I absolutely loved the conviction of the parents for teaching their own children. I thought my husband was accepting when I put huge pieces of paper up on the walls and drew out pictures of things we were going to learn, but to paint the walls??? The mother was very gracious to allow her home to be used in this manner. I imagine it was a fun time living in their home!

I also loved that
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Lolene
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am currently rereading this book, and I still agree with the 5 stars I gave it earlier. Don't be misled by thinking the Steve Martin movie has anything to do with the original story. If I filled out a Venn diagram to compare/contrast the movie and the book, the middle section of shared traits would have ONE item: the title! Here's a brief overview from Wikipedia: "Cheaper by the Dozen is a biographical book written by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey that tells the story ...more
JuliaOrlando
★★★★★ –I loved everything about this book – the plot line, the way the story flowed, the characters and their interactions with each other, the writing style – everything was perfect to keep me interested in the story and the characters. This is a definite keeper and re-reader.

It's about Frank and Lillie Gilbreth, pioneers in the science of motion study, and their 12 children. I thought it was wonderfully written and it made me laugh out loud several times. I love how the children interact with
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Alison
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book was SO much better than the Steve Martin remake of the movie! I loved the book. The father is an efficiency expert and his attempts to make his family the most organized, smartest bunch of kids on the planet might have been terrible if he hadn't been such a lovable, larger-than-life man. Even though the events took place a hundred years ago (literally), the writing style is so lively and fresh, the story never feels dated. If you get a chance to read it, this book is hilarious.
Loretta Marchize
I re-read this book for the third time last night, it's been a few years since I last read it, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy it. It's hilarious!
I've always enjoyed this book and wondered what it would have been like to have actually lived with the Gilbreths.
(view spoiler)
Elsa K
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this cute and funny look at a family of 12 kids in the 1920s. I want to read more books about the family now.
Jamie Collins
I picked up an ebook copy of this old favorite, which I read so many times when I was a kid. I still have the fragile orange hardback, which I carefully read to my children when they were little. This is the only book which has ever made me want a large family; right now I’m feeling a little twinge of regret that I have only two children.

It’s a collection of anecdotes, really: rides in Foolish Carriage; visiting Mrs. Murphy; Victrolas playing French and German lessons at bath time ("unavoidable
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Cheryl
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O man, I still think about this just about every time I button a shirt. I believe it influenced my decision to avoid having a large family.

Y'know, it's interesting growing up in a town of 1100, with a mother who didn't buy many books because, after all, we did have a free library. Sure, I guess the adult section was well-enough stocked to keep her busy in the time she could spare from the three of us. But there are *so many* children's books I missed out on. And so many I read over and over aga
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Tory
Sep 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book based on a little, quiet, mediocre family. Oh OK, so it's not a LITTLE family. I don't want to surprise any first-time readers that there are 12 children, but I guess you'll find out soon enough. Well, in that case, it is not about a quiet family, either (since we're talking about 12 children here). And I might as well just tell you right now that it's also not about a mediocre family.

Honestly, it was fun book with many moments where I was laughing out loud. I admire the fam
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Ellie
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir, family
I adored this book as a child-and as a grown-up was pleased to find out the mother became a successful businesswoman in her own right after her husband's death.
Marieke
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fun book. I can't imagine having twelve kids though.
Lynn
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cheaper by the Dozen is filled with loving affection for parents and siblings. It is a memoir that celebrates the best memories of growing up in a family of twelve siblings with a mother and father who worked together. The household is unconventional due to the "motion studies" the parents run as research, Mr. Gilbreth's tremendous love of life and laughter, and the unique educational ideas that Mr. Gilbreth uses to rear his children. Mother is a warm and loving character. Sometimes it is nice t ...more
Marilee
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
This is the perfect book to listen to in the car with your kids on a road trip. I'd been listening to it on my own, and it came on one time in the car. I went to turn it off, but my 13 year old was intrigued and asked me to leave it on. A few minutes later we were both cracking up. As much as I love Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, the movie doesn't do the book justice, especially with Frank's (the father's) character. This book was much more than a cute story about a large family. Frank loved prec ...more
Peter
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes older books
A truly charming and heartwarming book about the efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth, his wife, and their dozen children - written by two of the children (Frank Jr. and Ernestine).

This book was a massive best-seller back in its day. But as time passed, it went out of print and was forgotten and virtually unavailable for many years. I found a copy tucked onto a shelf at a rented vacation cabin on a lake in Maine; the shelves were simply packed with old books, including many issues of Reader's Digest
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Sandy
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn
I'm not certain if I have read this before or not. The one thing I didn't remember/know is that it is a true story. The movie follows the book quite well. The chapters just had me laughing out loud. This is a true gem of a book.
Katy
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Simple and heartwarming memoir of a life in a 12 children family of two motion study experts written by two of the twelve.

Or, the real origin of the family meeting. :)
Andrea
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 10 and up interested in big families and/or 1920's culture
This hilarious memoir of a 12-kid family with two efficiency experts for parents was funny, genuine, and a wonderful look at early 1920s America. The dad isn't idealized; he has his faults, but he also has his strengths. The family is witty and clever and the kids loved hearing about various pranks and laughs they had together.

We don't hear a lot about their mother, but she seems pretty amazing -- she used the time of her "confinement" right after having a baby to read, write, and edit research
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Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. (March 17, 1911 – February 18, 2001) was co-author, with his sister Ernestine, of Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes. Under his own name, he wrote Time Out for Happiness and Ancestors of the Dozen.

He was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the 5th child (and first boy) of the 12 children born to efficiency experts Frank Gilbreth, Sr. and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, a
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Other books in the series

Cheaper by the Dozen (2 books)
  • Belles on Their Toes
“Dad himself used to tell a story about one time when Mother went off to fill a lecture engagement and left him in charge at home. When Mother returned, she asked him if everything had run smoothly.
Didn't have any trouble except with that one over there,' he replied. 'But a spanking brought him into line.'
Mother could handle any crisis without losing her composure.
That's not one of ours, dear,' she said. 'He belongs next door.”
58 likes
“Dad took moving pictures of us children washing dishes, so that he could figure out how we could reduce our motions and thus hurry through the task. Irregular jobs, such as painting the back porch or removing a stump from the front lawn, were awarded on a low-bid basis. Each child who wanted extra pocket money submitted a sealed bid saying what he would do the job for. The lowest bidder got the contract.” 11 likes
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