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.
When it comes to children’s stories about building things, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Buildings in Disguise to popular sellers like Square to some of our favorite hidden gems like The House That Jane Built.
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.
This is the story of Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, who transformed a poor neighborhood in Chicago by opening up her house as a community center.
Lola is building her dream sandcastle—one with a tall, tall tower and sea glass that sends signals to mermaids. But the beach is crowded, and soon enough, a boy steps on her castle. Not to worry! Lola recruits him to build a wall. When a toddler with a bulldozer starts digging too close the walls, Lola decides he can be in charge of digging the moat. As the sandcastle grows, so does Lola’s friendly group of helpers. There’s only one thing that Lola doesn’t want near the sandcastle: a wave! Will the new friends be able to salvage the mermaids’ castle when their hard work is washed away?
The beguiling second entry in the innovative shape trilogy by multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. This book is about Square. Square spends every day taking blocks from a pile below the ground to a pile above the ground. This book is also about Square’s friend Circle. Circle thinks Square is an artistic genius. But is he really? With the second story in a trilogy of tales about Triangle, Square, and Circle, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen nudge readers toward a more well-rounded way of looking at things. Understated and striking in its simplicity, this funny, thoughtful offering from two of today’s most talented picture-book creators emphasizes the importance of keeping your eyes — and your mind — open to wonder where others see only rubble and rocks.
In this delightful story, by the same author who wrote When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree, a boy is disappointed with his grandfather’s gift—until he learns he can use it to build exactly what he wanted with his own two hands, and a little help from grandpa, of course!
You asked for a special house for your dolls; but instead Grandpa gives you a toolbox! What do you do? Launching it into outer space is a bad idea. So is feeding it to a T. rex! Instead, be patient, pay attention, and you might find that you’re pretty handy. And just maybe, with grandpa’s help, you’ll get that dollhouse after all. This clever story celebrates kindness, hard work, and community, as well as variety in gender expression: the male main character proudly engages in activities that might be considered typically girl (playing with dolls) and typically boy (building with tools).
A day at the beach becomes a lesson in sibling bonding for Gideon in this magical picture book.
Every summer, Gideon and his younger sister Audrey build a sand castle—together. But this summer, everything changes. Gideon is going to build the most spectacular sandcastle anyone on the beach has ever seen. And he’s going to do it on his own—without any help from his sister.
But much to his surprise, Gideon discovers that building together is more fun and that everyone has their own unique talent when it comes to creativity and imagination, even Audrey.
Little Excavator - From New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of the Llama Llama books comes a new character ready to dig his way into your heart! Here come the BIG RIGS rolling down the street. Thumpa-thumpa bumpa-bumpa BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! There’s Loader and Dump Truck, Backhoe and Crane. They’re ready to transform a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. And who wants to help most of all? Little Excavator! But are there any jobs for someone so small? Anna Dewdney’s signature rhyming text and inviting illustrations make this a perfect read aloud for for fans of things that go!
Little Leonardo's Fascinating World of Engineering - An introductory primer for kids focusing on the “E” portion of “STEAM” engineering. With original Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci as inspiration, this exciting new volume in the Little Leonardo series introduces kids to many of the different types of engineering they can aspire to. Littles will learn how nine types of engineers design and build all sorts of things, from the tiny microcircuitry in your smartphone to large projects like dams and bridges that transform the very face of the planet. Part of the Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World Series. Greg Paprocki works full-time as an illustrator and book designer. He has illustrated several Curious George books, as well as the BabyLit alphabet books and The Big Book of Superheroes. Bob Cooper is a veteran editor whose twenty-year career has found him working on everything from comic books to art, architecture, and children’s titles.
Building Machines - Building Machines explores the powerful mechanics of construction vehicles and includes everything needed to build nine machines with working parts! The construction vehicles introduced are a forklift, bulldozer, front loader, giant digger, dump truck, road roller, crane, and tractor. Each spread describes the vehicle in detail, including its parts and function. The spreads also include instructions for constructing the machine described using the included die-cut pieces. Children can follow the steps to make each vehicle, then use the pieces to invent their own. It’s the perfect introduction to simple mechanics for budding engineers everywhere.
Demolition - Illustrations and rhyming text show the enormous and powerful machines that are used to demolish a building so that a playground can be built.
Join the ride as a team of adorable vehicles work together to build a new road in this fresh, cement-mixing spin on the classic nursery rhyme, “The House That Jack Built.” This is the traffic that’s moving too slow. Cars and buses have nowhere to go. What is the answer? I’m guessing you know. The trucks need to build a new road! Bulldozers, scrapers, graders, and more are hard at work making sure that every car, truck, and motorcycle can get where they’re going fast! With smooth writing by Susanna Leonard Hill and heavy-duty illustrations by Erica Sirotich, The Road That Trucks Built shows the importance and effectiveness of teamwork in a picture book that’s perfect for on the road readers.
Join Dump Truck on his colorfully busy day at the construction site! Little construction fans will love the colors that fill the world of the bestselling Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, from the BLUE sky in the morning to the WHITE moon at night!
An ode to building a house from the ground up profiles six kinds of craftsmen and the 24 tools they use, with the answer to each question about “whose tools” being revealed under seven gatefolds designed to promote curiosity and learning. By the Caldecott Honor-winning author of One Cool Friend. 30,000 first printing.
Featuring beautiful images and a lyrical text with an exquisitely readable cadence, this book gives life and meaning to all the requisite elements of a treehouse, from time, timber, and rafters to ropes of twisted twine that invite visitors to sprawl out on a limb and slide back down again. For anyone who’s ever wanted to escape real life and live in a nostalgic dream come true, this poignant picture book captures the universal timelessness of treehouses and celebrates all the creativity and adventure they spark.
Welcome to the animal construction site! Dig, dig, dig…and dig some more with your favorite animal friends! In Dig, Dig Digger, children will be amused by the hilarious antics of the animals as they build an adventure playground. Young readers will delight in Gareth Lucas’s artwork and in finding the sound button on every spread. Each turn of the page will bring humor and fun with hippos, bears, camels, and more on their day at the construction site. 2017 NAPPA Winner
Baby Loves Structural Engineering! - Big, brainy science for the littlest listeners. Accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for baby, this clever board book explores the basics of building—from foundation to rooftop—and ties it all to baby’s world. Beautiful, visually stimulating illustrations complement age-appropriate language to encourage baby’s sense of wonder. Parents and caregivers may learn a thing or two, as well!
A Green Place to Be: the Creation of Central Park - How did Central Park become a vibrant gem in the heart of New York City? Follow the visionaries behind the plan as it springs to green life. In 1858, New York City was growing so fast that new roads and tall buildings threatened to swallow up the remaining open space. The people needed a green place to be — a park with ponds to row on and paths for wandering through trees and over bridges. When a citywide contest solicited plans for creating a park out of barren swampland, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted put their heads together to create the winning design, and the hard work of making their plans a reality began. By winter, the lake opened for skating. By the next summer, the waterside woodland known as the Ramble opened for all to enjoy. Meanwhile, sculptors, stone masons, and master gardeners joined in to construct thirty-four unique bridges, along with fountains, pagodas, and band shells, making New York’s Central Park a green gift to everyone. Included in the end matter are bios of Vaux and Olmsted, a bibliography, and engaging factual snippets.
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.
Old MacDonald Had a Boat - Old Mac and Mrs. Mac are at it again! This time, these DIY-happy farmers wield a host of noisy tools—from hammers to sanders, and even a blowtorch—to soup up their rusty old fishing boat. With a BANG BANG here and a BUZZ BUZZ there, this silly, summery sequel to the wildly popular Old MacDonald Had a Truck is sure to make a splash—and have the whole family singing along.
A happy little dump truck, driven by Hard Hat Pete, hauls stones, rocks, and debris from a construction site to a landfill.
The story of creation told from a Mi’kmaq point of view. Along time ago, the Great Spirit created the sky and all of the stars. Still, it wasn’t enough. He then made Minegoo, a place so beautiful it could have been kept among the stars. But instead, He decided to place Minegoo in the most beautiful spot on Earth. He summoned Kluskap and asked him to find this spot. After searching the whole world, Kluskap found the Shining Waters, the spot in the Gulf of St. Lawrence that would be home to the Mi’kmaq people created in his own image.
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!
Meet Mack, the construction foreman. He is building a house. Follow the construction process from start to finish with Mack’s pop-up skidders, cement mixers and more.
Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree - This new adventure with Red Knit Cap Girl and her friends uses simple prose and radiant illustrations to shine a light on the joy of reading and the importance of working together. One day Red Knit Cap Girl and her friends discover a hollow tree in the middle of the forest. What can be done with one ordinary tree? “I will keep my book in this nook so everyone can read it,” Red Knit Cap Girl says. But the tree isn’t only for books. Little by little, one by one, the animals share their unique gifts and turn the ordinary tree into a special spot for everyone to enjoy!
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!
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.
With My Hands: Poems About Making Things - Building, baking, folding, drawing, shaping . . . making something with your own hands is a special, personal experience. Taking an idea from your imagination and turning it into something real is satisfying and makes the maker proud. With My Hands is an inspiring invitation to tap into creativity and enjoy the hands-on energy that comes from making things.
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!
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.
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!
All Marmalade wants to do is build things. She is, after all, a trained architect. She’s also a distractingly adorable kitten. Fed up with not being taken seriously because she’s so cute,Marmalade bands together with a handful of other aspiring builders—all of themkittens. But in a world where humans call the shots, can the KittenConstruction Company prove their worth . . . without giving up the very thingsthat make them kittens? (Don’t worry, dear reader, the answer is definitely”yes”!)
Profiles Lucy the elephant, in Margate, N.J., and other buildings made to look like something else, including gas stations, lodgings, restaurants, amusement parks, and offices, and discusses the future of such designs.
Ellie, Engineer - A charming, hilarious illustrated middle grade about a girl who is an engineer—perfect creative, STEM-powered fun for girls who have interests in how things work. “Look out, Junie B. Jones! Ellie the engineer is thinking, making, creating, and showing enthusiasm and brilliance with her creations!” —School Library Connection Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present—the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet, all while keeping a secret from Kit? Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!
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.
How to Build a Leprechaun Trap - Learn how to catch a leprechaun in this exciting companion to the New York Times bestselling book, How to Catch a Leprechaun! This companion book will have kids and parents tripping over themselves to catch a leprechaun! With colorful, engaging instructions for 16 different traps plus 13 bonus activities and fun stickers in the back, How to Build a Leprechaun Trap is perfect for structures lesson plans or rainy days at home.
Tractor Mac Builds a Barn - Tractor Mac and friends celebrate autumn festivals in this paperback edition which includes two pages of stickers!
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.
One day a fantastic idea pops into Professor McQuark’s head to create an ‘Oojamaflip’ but what is one and will it win her first prize at the town science fair? A fast-paced, rhyming tale superbly written by first-time author Lou Treleaven and illustrated by the talented Julia Patton.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Trainbots - Trainbots are getting ready to make and deliver toybots for kids to play with, but it looks like the Badbots are sneaking and scheming to sabotage the delivery in this moving, grooving picture book! Trainbots boarding, how rewarding! Trainbots zooming, unassuming… Badbots peeking, sneaking, scheming, hopping, dropping—Badbots teeming! These Trainbots are getting ready to make and deliver toybots for kids to play with! They’re drawing, sawing, and building to get the toybots ready to send, but it looks like the Badbots are sneaking and scheming to sabotage the delivery! Luckily, the Trainbots draft and craft and engineer and rockateer to outsmart the misbehaving Badbots. And once the toybots are delivered, the kids become their FRIEND-bots ‘til-the-end bots!
Mama, Let's Make a Moon - The children in a mountain cabin invite their mother to join them in making a moon from the things around them, including second-hand stardust; leftover love, and such elements of their natural environment as a silvery stream and a shiny swan.
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!
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.
“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.
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
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.
A construction bunny learns a creative lesson in sharing and friendship when he meets the biggest carrot of his life. LaRue was very handy. His toolbox had everything and industrious bunny could ever need. Everything, that is, except carrots. But then LaRue stumbles onto a special seed. With proper tending, this seed quickly grows into an ENORMOUS CARROT! What’s a bunny to do with so much carrot? In a stroke of construction genius (and generosity), LaRue has the answer. This clever story celebrates just what it means to be a friend. A Christy Ottaviano Book
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.
Bigger! Bigger! - The star of Faster! Faster! and Higher! Higher! dons a construction hat for another soaring (and slightly interrupted) exercise in imagination. A box of blocks. A budding builder. Should she build a doghouse? A bridge? A skyscraper? Yes, all of these and more! Bigger, bigger! BIGGEST! But then . . . Boom! Boom! What’s that? Uh-oh . . . After one little girl’s architectural masterpieces grow exponentially, the arrival of an assistant presents a bit of a challenge in this ode to creativity masterfully constructed by Leslie Patricelli.