One year for my birthday, I had my husband take me to Cape Ann to see the exhibit for The Little House. The author and illustrator, Virginia Lee Burton, lived in Newton, MA where I live now. My kids grew up reading Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow. In fact, I always pictured Newton to be the town that Katy plows during the big snowstorm.
But we didn’t read The Little House as much as her truck books. This year, I received a number of books about houses and their storied history. It made me think of The Little House, the coziest picture book about a house being a home that I could think of. I hope you enjoy my picture book selections. Please feel free to suggest more books. I’ll keep adding to the list! Thank you!
Picture Books about What Makes A House A Home
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
“This Little House shall never be sold for gold or silver and she will live to see our great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren living in her.”
In Newton, MA where I live, many of the houses are old enough to have ten generations live in a house. I do know of a few houses that continue to be passed down from one generation to the next. Season after season, The Little House sat on a hill and the world changed around her. The country life that she was used to, turned into city life, as the city expanded. One day, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the house saw the house in the city looking shabby and decrepit. She decided to move the house to the country. The Little House is now in its 75th year! She enjoys living in the country after her taste of city living. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The exhibit for The Little House went to Japan and back! I really enjoyed seeing Virginia Lee Burton’s rough sketches for the book that turned into this beautiful, classic picture book.
Building Our House by Jonathan Bean
Like The Little House, a girl and her family relocate from the city to the country. In this case, however, they are building their own house. Kids who like construction will enjoy the step-by-step process of how a house gets built. It’s based on the true story of author Jonathan Bean’s house that his parents built by themselves. Jonathan Bean’s charming cartoon-like illustrations make you feel like you could build your own house too! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
The House of Grass and Sky by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by E. B. Goodale
If a house, longing for a family of its own, could write a picture book, this would be it. It’s a book for everyone who would rather bring an old house back to its former glory than tear down and rebuild. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
A House That Once Was by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith
This book is a rhyming, lyrical story but I can’t figure out the exact poetry form. The rhyme pattern isn’t consistent, though each stanza has a rhythmic beat that is perfect for reading aloud. And the story is about two kids explore an abandoned house and all the questions that it brings up. The house leaves behind clues as to former occupants, as well as mysteries with all the stuff left behind such as a perfectly made-up bed and faded photographs. This is a gentle adventure, full of wonder, for the nascent historian in everyone. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The House by the Lake: The True Story of a House, Its History, and the Four Families Who Made it Home by Thomas Harding, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
This is the true story of a cottage on the outskirts of Berlin. It was occupied by a kind Jewish doctor, a successful Nazi composer, wartime refugees, and a secret-police informant. The great-grandson of the doctor — and author of this book — restored the house. This is a great book to show the everyday moments of history and each person’s role in shaping it. [picture book, ages 7 and up]
This Is Our House by Hyewon Yum
This is Hyewon Yum’s house-is-a-home story, starting with her grandparents who arrived from a place far away. Her house has been a home for three generations so far and is filled with memories that connect each generation to the other. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Home is a Window by Stephanie Ledyard
Home is what feels the same each day and sometimes what is new.
Not everyone can live in the same home for multiple generations. Home is many things, but also a feeling of security. In this story, a family transitions from a beloved old home to a new one. It’s a journey with a happy ending because home is people and good things, and, luckily, that is portable. This is a picture book for those who are moving or have moved homes. It’s a good reminder that home is where the heart is. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
My House/Mi Casa by Rebecca Emberley
A house is full of colors, furnishings, people, toys, and more. Get to know them in both English and Spanish! [bilingual Spanish picture book, ages 4 and up]
A House Is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Betty Fraser
“A flower’s at home in a garden. A donkey’s at home in a stall. Each creature that’s know has a house of its own and the earth is a house for us all.”
In rollicking rhyme, this book explores the concept of a house from all creatures. And then, the silliness starts. Barrels are houses for pickles. Mittens are houses for hands. If you think about it, everything has some kind of house. Kids will enjoy the exploration of the many types of homes in this world. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Two Homes by Claire Masurel, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Some kids have two homes, one for each of their parents. Alex goes back and forth between his mommy’s and daddy’s two homes. His two homes are different in some ways, but similar in that he is loved at both places. This is a positive story about parental divorce or separation. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
A New Home by Tania de Regil
It’s a story of two lives being uprooted. Two kids and their families are moving out of the country. The little white boy is moving from New York City to Mexico City. The little Latina girl is moving from Mexico City to New York City. Each of them has the same fear of missing their home and friends. The gentle message is that they will be exploring a new city with everything their old city had. The endnote lists the specific locations and features for each city. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler
This is the true story of author Eliza Wheeler’s grandmother. During the Great Depression, a mother with eight children has to find a new home when her husband dies. They find an abandoned shack in the woods. Despite lean times, the family finds sustenance from their surroundings, growing vegetables, foraging for wild berries, and hunting for food. They also find joy in the seasons and in being together. The little tar shack becomes a nurturing home. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
The House Takes a Vacation by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Lee White
I had to add this humorous picture book to my list. Author Jacqueline Davies lives one town over from me and I loved her take on a house that decides to take its own vacation and all the chatter that ensues from the different parts of the house. I especially enjoyed her clever plays on words. This is punny fun at its best! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
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p.s. Related posts:
10 Recent Picture Books With a Lot of Heart