Thursday, March 21, 2013

Building readers one brick (or book) at a time: Dreaming Up, by Christy Hale (ages 3-8)

Every child I know has loved building things out of materials they find everywhere - whether it's stacking a huge tower of blocks, or making a pillow fort, or using toothpicks and green peas to make a pyramid. If you have a little builder at home, definitely look for Christy Hale's new book, Dreaming Up.
Dreaming Up: 
A Celebration of Building 
by Christy Hale
Lee & Low, 2012
ages 3 - 8
available at your local library and on Amazon
Christy Hale imaginatively pairs drawings of young children building forts, sandcastles and more with photographs of fascinating architectural structures that mirror the children’s creations. Each comes with a concrete poem that will bring a smile to your face. Here, children are building toothpick creations, alongside the Montreal Biosphere. The concrete poem reads,
"Easy peasy as can be /
toothpicks joining /
One, two, three."
Hale's comparisons and poems are accessible to young preschoolers, but they'll also intrigue seven and eight year olds. My daughter says, "I *love* that book! The thing I love most about it is that it can be for all age groups. It does not matter if you're a grandma reading it to your little grandchild or if you're a middle school kid who's fascinated by buildings."

I especially appreciate the way Hale carefully included so many different children, architects and types of buildings throughout Dreaming Up. As you can see, the children have a range of skin tones and ethnic backgrounds. In the back, you can read about architects ranging from Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi woman who designed the Vitra Fire Station in Germany, to Simon Velez, a Columbian man who designed the Bamboo Church in Columbia.

Children will adore the way Hale celebrates their creativity - just look at the building that looks like a child's pillow fort! Older children will be interested to read that Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (pictured above) is located on a river, and that it often gives the impression of looking like a fish or a ship. Children who are interested in learning more will appreciate the extra information Hale includes at the end of the book, especially the quotes and pictures of each architect.

On her website, Christy Hale shares six creative projects that engage children in building. She includes plans to make a paper pyramid with tubes of rolled paper and tape, and shows children how to build an ever-expanding labyrinth from interlocking cardboard boxes. You might also have fun checking out two Pinterest sites Hale put together:
All images shared with permission from Christy Hale, © 2012. The review copy came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Hi, Mary Ann. I love this book too. Christy is a friend of mine, so I'll send her your link. Next week, she'll be stopping by Author Amok on Poetry Friday. I'll have an interview with Christy about Dreaming Up. Will link to your review!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Mary Ann. I read about this book a while ago on another blog, but I haven't seen it yet. Just put it on reserve at the library==thanks for the reminder!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I'm clicking over to the library to put this on reserve -- wonderful connection of poetry and nonfiction!