Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to building things. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about building things.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about building things, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Tony’s Hard Work Day to popular sellers like Iggy Peck, Architect to some of our favorite hidden gems like Square.
We hope this list of kids books about building things can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
Frog and Beaver - A new neighbor with huge plans turns life upside down for animals who live on the river in a charming ecological fable from Simon James. Frog and his friends live happily together on the river. At least they do until Beaver comes along. Beaver is determined to build the biggest and best dam anyone has ever seen, and he doesn’t stop to think about what that will mean for everyone else’s homes. Frog tries to tell Beaver that his dam is getting too big, but Beaver just won’t listen. Before long, Beaver’s dam is so huge that it stops all the water in the river, and Frog and his friends must move upstream. But diverted water also needs somewhere to go, and soon Beaver will learn that only one force is stronger than a mighty river — friendship.
Gimme Shelter: Misadventures and Misinformation - The Chicken Squad is back for their fifth (mis)adventure in this “lip-bitingly funny” (School Library Journal) chapter book from the bestselling author of Click, Clack, Moo and The Trouble with Chickens. The Chicken Squad prides themselves on being ready for anything. Marshmallow life preservers? Check. Copious bags of jellybeans for a car ride? Check. Storm shelter? Storm shelter! They need a storm shelter in case there is ever a storm. So Sugar takes it upon himself to build one in the yard. But it turns out it’s not big enough for everyone. And the big dig has unearthed some mysterious surprises.
Cement Mixer's ABC - Sing along with these construction ABCs! Cement Mixer churns out a rollicking alphabet rhyme that makes work light and teaches little readers the words of the construction site, from A to Z.
The Little Dump Truck - A happy little dump truck, driven by Hard Hat Pete, hauls stones, rocks, and debris from a construction site to a landfill.
Ready, Set, Build! - Grab your hard hat and get ready for a day of construction fun with a busy builder and his friend! Grab your hard hat, tie your boots. Pack your lunch. Ready? Scoot! Sketch a dream. Post a chart. Hatch the plan before you start. Get ready for a day full of construction fun! Children can follow a busy dog builder as he sketches and plans his dream, clears rubble to make space, and gets to work digging, lifting, and sawing. He builds a house for himself and his bird friend, and satisfied after a hard day’s work, they takes in all they’ve done and look forward to the next day of building!
How to Build a Car - Learn about car mechanics and teamwork as three unlikely friends work to build a miniature racer. In How to Build a Car, three unlikely friends—Eli, a mouse; Phoebe, a sparrow; and Hank, a frog—decide to build a small motorcar together. The story follows the friendly trio as they learn all about how a car works and how it is constructed. Detailed illustrations show the inner workings of the car, teaching children the basics of how each part works together to get the car moving. Through hard work and perseverance, Eli, Phoebe, and Hank learn about both car mechanics and teamwork as they build a miniature racer. With the help of this sweet story, children will learn the different parts and functions of a car.
Want to see books about cars and trucks?
One House - Crabs with clipboards and bears who build are some of the animals who come together in One House to DIY a new home from start to finish for their friend. Plans are drafted, holes are dug, and construction begins! This board book will delight little ones with its quirky illustrations and rhyming countdown. With teamwork, generosity and some special skills, it’s amazing what these critters can accomplish!
Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper - Snappy rhymes invite young readers to watch workers dig, pour, pound, and bolt a skyscraper into existence. Simple yet satis-fying sidebars provide further information about each step in the construction process. Perfect for preschoolers and all those who dig diggers. Quirky, colorful art enhance the appeal of a construction site with all the equipment and sounds of building. The 2017 Summer Reading Theme: Build a Better World!
My First Toolbox - My First Tool Box features a distressed design to give it a rough-and-tumble feel. Children will be delighted by the removable cardboard elements including: A wrench A screwdriver A hammer and four cardboard nails A saw My First Tool Box also features a tape measure to slide, and screws and nuts to turn. Plus, children can count from one to five! This oversized board book offers a robust introduction to everyday tools, perfect for encouraging lively, interactive play for children and adults!
What Can You Do with a Toolbox? - From HGTV stars, cousins, and best friends John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino comes a fun-filled picture book that introduces young readers to the tools in a toolbox and how to use them. A hammer. Nails. A screwdriver. How do we use them? Using simple language, cousins Anthony and John introduce kids to tools and their uses. As their construction project grows, so does the number of kids helping. At the end, they reveal exactly what you can do with a toolbox: We can build a playground!
The Alphabet from the Sky - Discover the alphabet from a bird’s-eye view! Geographer and designer duo Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee have taken the alphabet to new heights—literally! Using satellite imagery and computer technology, the pair has discovered “accidental letters” all over the world: in roads, rivers, buildings, lakes, and more. Take a journey around the Earth in 26 letters with this special book.
Bird Builds a Nest - It’s time for Bird to build her nest! Follow her as she pulls a worm out of the ground, lifts some twigs that are just the right size, and pushes the twigs into place. Uh-oh! One of the twigs falls to the ground! But after a day of hard work, Bird’s nest is ready and waiting. Can you guess what it’s waiting for? Using simple, clear language and beautiful illustrations, this engaging story is the perfect introduction to physical forces for very young readers. A final spread with some simple questions promotes discussion with parents, teachers, or caregivers and encourages readers to think about the concepts introduced. A gentle, sweetly illustrated concept book takes on physical forces as young children learn about pushing and pulling.
Want to see books about first concepts?
Yasmin the Builder - As their makerspace project the students in Yasmin’s second grade class are building a city: there are houses, a school, a church, even a castle, but Yasmin is not sure what to build—until inspiration strikes.
How to Build a Hug - Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Giselle Potter come together to tell the inspiring story of autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin and her brilliant invention: the hug machine. As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn’t like hugs. Temple wanted to be held—but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug? Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!
Crossing on Time - David Macaulay, creator of the international bestseller The Way Things Work, brings his signature curiosity and detailing to the story of the steamship in this meticulously researched and stunningly illustrated book. Prior to the 1800s, ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean relied on the wind in their sails to make their journeys. But invention of steam power ushered in a new era of transportation that would change ocean travel forever: the steamship. Award-winning author-illustrator David Macaulay guides readers through the fascinating history that culminated in the building of the most advanced—and last—of these steamships: the SS United States. This book artfully explores the design and construction of the ship and the life of its designer and engineer, William Francis Gibbs. Framed around the author’s own experience steaming across the Atlantic on the very same SS United States, Crossing on Time is a tour de force of the art of explanation and a touching and surprising childhood story.
Want to see books about America?
Bizzy Bear: Do-It-Yourself Day - Bizzy Bear has a very special DIY project planned, and he needs lots of tools and help to get the job done. Young children will love helping Bizzy and all his friends measure, hammer, saw, and paint. But whatever can they be making? An ingeniously designed book with a fun surprise ending.
Dreaming Up - Cup on cup stacking up, smaller, smaller, and growing taller! Children building— Concrete poetry— Pair them with notable structures from around the world and see children’s constructions taken to the level of architectural treasures. Here is a unique celebration of children’s playtime explorations and the surprising ways childhood experiences find expression in the dreams and works of innovative architects. Come be inspired to play—dream—build—discover!
Road Builders - Ever wonder how a road is built? Come along with Caldecott Medalist Simms Taback and find out! First you’ll meet the crew. Then you’ll see all the trucks up close—cement mixers, bulldozers, dump trucks, graders, pavers—and learn what each one does. And finally, you’ll watch a bustling new road come to life!
Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of the Arts - “Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of the Arts is a great way to encourage kids’ interests in all manner of artistic pursuits that they might aspire to. This volume introduces children to the many different types of creative fields in the arts including drawing and painting, music and dance, writing, design, architecture, and photography.”—Publisher’s description.
Want to see books about jobs and careers?
Dinosaur Dig! - Dinosaurs from one to ten use construction equipment to dig, shovel, roll, and scrape as they build a fun surprise. On board pages.
I'm a Truck Driver - Now in board book—a charming story about a little boy and girl adventuring from one driver’s seat to the next featuring 12 exciting trucks! There are many different kinds of trucks to drive. You can dig up dirt with a power shovel, lift steel beams with a giant crane, flatten tar with a steamroller, and push away snow with a snowplow. Preschoolers will love watching the little boy and girl in the story as they sit in the driver’s seat of twelve big trucks that rumble and tumble and go clinka-vroom vroom! A Christy Ottaviano Book
Ellie, Engineer: The Next Level - Ellie the Engineer is back in another charming, hilarious, illustrated story filled with creative, STEM-powered fun! “Look out, Junie B. Jones! Ellie the engineer is thinking, making, creating, and showing enthusiasm and brilliance with her creations!” -School Library Connection on Ellie, Engineer After Ellie’s first elevator build goes terribly wrong, her parents decide her “punishment” is to assist an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Curran, around the house. Ellie and her friends Kit and Toby are really only supposed to help with little things, but Ellie can’t turn down the opportunity to use her engineering skills here and there where she sees a need—because that’s what engineers do! It’s no fun, though, when Mrs. Curran always gives Toby the credit for all the ingenious projects, and acts like Kit and Ellie were just helping him. . . . Can Ellie come up with another great build to elevate Mrs. Curran’s ideas about this girl engineer? With Ellie’s designs and sketches throughout, and her fun guide to simple machines in the back, the continuation of this delightful series will leave young readers laughing and inspired to create.
Pedro's Tricky Tower - Miss Winkle separates the class into teams and instructs them to build towers out of paper cups, and the group who builds the tallest tower wins—but they have very little success until Pedro has an idea about how it can be done.
Want to see books about science?