Recommended for ages 5-10
When I started at my current library last year, the younger kids were in the middle of a school project on architecture. I was able to give them books like the most current picture book retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, Block City and Byron Barton’s Building a House, but after I exhausted the fiction section, I was stumped. Luckily, a quick tour of my nonfiction section brought me to Christy Hale’s beautiful book, Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building.
Dreaming Up combines illustrations of multiethnic children at work on their own constructions, with rhyming text building and swirling in construction of its own, and pairs each illustration with a photo and description of a notable work of architecture. Kids will experience the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi, and they’ll see such masterpieces as the open-air church in Cartegena, Columbia, inspired by Gothic cathedrals; a temporary Chinese school constructed by students and teachers from plywood and recycled paper tubes, and New York City’s Gugghenheim Museum. It’s an exciting way to experience the world and emphasizes the importance of play in the creative process.
I put this book out during a storytime for my preschoolers, and just read the rhyming text. After storytime, I brought out stacking cups, blocks, and foam building pieces, and let the kids go to work. Watching the little ones work with their parents was amazing; there were walls, buildings, and winding roads by the time they were done. This is a great book for school-age kids, but you can easily modify it for younger ones. Booktalk it, let them draw or work with their hands, and see what the kids can create for you.
Dreaming Up has received multiple awards and honors, including Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors, the International Reading Association (IRA) Children’s and Young Adult Book Award Honor, and the 2012 California Book Award. It has been designated a Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association (ALA) and was included on the Read! Build! Play! Summer Reading list of Books that Inspire Play, ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) and LEGO.