Literature Connections to
Build It! Festival

Teacher's Guides > Build It! Festival

Books that have to do with building or construction make excellent connections to Build It! Festival, including books at the appropriate age level about famous works of architecture and/or architects. The books by David Macaulay listed here are highly recommended. Several books that focus on decoding patterns are listed and connect nicely to Activity 6 and Activity 8. Any books in which geometric shapes, designs, symmetry, or spatial visualization play a part would fit in nicely. We welcome your additional suggestions, particularly for stories that describe a process of construction similar to what your students experience in the activities in this guide. You may find the article about tessellations on page 306 of interest.

Anno’s Math Games III
Block City

Bridges
Castle

Chicken Soup With Rice
Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet

A Grain of Rice
Grandfather Tang’s Story
If You Look Around You
Jim Jimmy James
The Keeping Quilt
The King’s Chessboard
My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes
Opt: An Illusionary Tale
The Paper Airplane Book

The Patchwork Quilt
The Phantom Tollbooth
Round Trip
Rubber Bands, Baseballs and Doughnuts: A Book about Topology
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

The Secret Birthday Message
Shadowgraphs Anyone Can Make
The Shapes Game
Shapes, Shapes, Shapes

Spaces, Shapes and Sizes
The Tipi: A Center of Native American Life
The Village of Round and Square Houses
Wings & Things

Anno’s Math Games III
by Mitsumasa Anno
Philomel Books/Putnam & Grosset, New York. 1991
Grades: 4–10

Picture puzzles, games, and simple activities introduce the mathematical concepts of abstract thinking, circuitry, geometry, and topology. The book invites active participation. An exploration of triangles includes origami shapes, while a section on ever-popular mazes encourages logical thinking.
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Block City
by Robert Louis Stevenson; illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Andersen Press, London. 1988
Grades: K–2
Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Block City” comes alive for young children through vibrant illustrations. Encourages imaginative building with blocks. Nice classic poetic connection to pattern block and other construction activities.
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Bridges
by Ken Robbins
Dial Books, New York. 1991
Grades: K–5
From delicate webs of steel spanning a vast river to stone arches reaching over a highway, bridges expand our world by joining one place with another. This book of hand-tinted photographs of bridges includes many types with descriptions of their design and use.
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Castle
by David Macaulay
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1977
Grades: K–6
One of a number of outstanding and beautifully illustrated books that focus on human structures, the work of building, architecture, shapes, and related content. Any and all of these books make a great connection to Build It! Festival. Other David Macaulay books in this category, with the same publisher, in the K–6 grade range are: Cathedral (1973); City (1974); Pyramid (1975); and Unbuilding (1980).
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Chicken Soup With Rice
by Maurice Sendak
Scholastic, New York. 1986
Grades: Preschool–2
This classic of rhyming verse about eating chicken soup throughout the year connects well to a discussion of repetitive patterns and the cycle of months in a year.
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Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet
by Ann Whitford Paul; illustrated by Jeanette Winter
HarperCollins, New York. 1991
Grades: 2–6
Introduces the letters of the alphabet with the names of early American patchwork quilt patterns and explains the origins of the designs by describing the activity or occupations from which they came. The designs are rich in geometric patterns.
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A Grain of Rice
by Helena C. Pittman
Bantam Books, New York. 1992
Grades: 2–5
A hard-working farmer’s son wins the hand of the Emperor’s daughter through clever use of mathematical knowledge of what results when a grain of rice is doubled every day for 100 days. Connects to Activity 6 and is an excellent literary introduction to the concept of exponential growth.
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Grandfather Tang’s Story
by Ann Tompert; illustrated by Robert A. Parker
Crown, New York. 1990
Grades: K–5
Grandfather tells Little Soo a story about shape-changing fox fairies who try to outdo each other until a hunter brings danger to both of them. The seven shapes that grandfather uses to tell the story are the pieces of an ancient Chinese puzzle, a tangram. Students can make their own tangrams, replicating the animals in the story or creating their own. This book is a wonderful and powerful way to connect mathematics to literature because in itself it embodies the connection, and because creating and solving tangrams is an involving activity for all ages.
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If You Look Around You
by Fulvio Testa
Dial Books for Young Readers/E.P. Dutton, New York. 1983
Grades: K–3
Geometric shapes, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, points and lines are depicted in scenes of children in- and out-of-doors. Nice real-world connections to geometry.
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Jim Jimmy James
by Jack Kent
Greenwillow Books/William Morrow, New York. 1984
Out of print
Grades: K–2
One boring rainy day, Jim Jimmy James makes friends and plays with his shadow. A very elementary look at the concept of reflection. As a follow-up, children can partner with a friend and play shadow games with each other. Shadows and reflections are among the earliest phenomena related to shape and geometry that children experience. (Note: Some of the illustrations in the book are not accurate reflections.)
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The Keeping Quilt
by Patricia Polacco
Simon & Schuster, New York. 1988
Grades: K–5
A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith. Strongly moving text and pictures. A resource to begin a quilt project. Quilts are creative real-life examples of fitting shapes into a defined space, including tessellations—the intriguing mathematical and creative art of exactly fitting similar shapes into a defined space. Sidney Taylor award winner.
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The King’s Chessboard
by David Birch; illustrated by Devis Grebu
Dial Books, New York. 1988
Grades: K–6
A proud king learns a valuable (and exponential) lesson when he grants his wise man a request for rice that doubles with each day and square on the chessboard. Connects to Activity 6 and, more generally to the mathematics strands of number, pattern, and function.
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My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes
by Eve Sutton; illustrated by Lynley Dodd
Scholastic, New York. 1973
Grades: K–2
This delightful book has rhymes about cats all over the world and “my cat” who likes to hide in boxes! The predictable pattern encourages reading participation. The idea of boxes and using shapes as homes is an early connection to structure and geometry.
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Opt: An Illusionary Tale
by Arline and Joseph Baum
Viking Penguin, New York. 1987
Grades: 2–6
A magical tale of optical illusions in which objects seem to shift color and size while images appear and disappear. You are an active participant in this book as you are guided through the land of Opt. Explanations of the illusions and information on how to make your own illusions are included.
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The Paper Airplane Book
by Seymour Simon; illustrated by Byron Barton
Viking Press, New York. 1971
Grades: 3–6
A user-friendly book on the aerodynamics of airplanes, complete with instructions on how to construct paper airplanes. Emphasis on the structure of airplanes and how changes in structure/shape impact the forces in flight. Additional experiments are included.
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The Patchwork Quilt
by Valerie Flournoy; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Dial Books, New York. 1985
Grades: K–5
Using scraps cut from the family’s old clothing, Tanya helps her grandmother piece together a quilt of memories. When Grandma becomes ill, Tanya’s whole family also gets involved in the project and they all work together to complete the quilt. Quilts, like geometry, are fascinating explorations of shapes and how they fit together.
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The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster; illustrated by Jules Feiffer
Random House, New York. 1989
Grades: 2–8
Milo has mysterious and magical adventures when he drives his car past The Phantom Tollbooth and discovers The Lands Beyond. On his journey, Milo encounters amusing situations that involve numbers, geometry, measurement, and problem solving. The continuous play on words is delightful.
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Round Trip
by Ann Jonas
Greenwillow Books/William Morrow, New York. 1983
Grades: K–3
Illustrated solely in black and white, this story of a trip between the city and the country is read at first in the standard way, then, on reaching the end, the book is flipped over as the story continues. Lo and behold, the illustrations turned upside down are transformed to depict the new scenes of the story. The strong black/white contrast helps provide a startling demonstration of the ways shapes and images fit into each other and can change, depending on one’s perspective.
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Rubber Bands, Baseballs and Doughnuts: A Book about Topology
by Robert Froman; illustrated by Harvey Weiss
Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. 1972
Out of print
Grades: 4–8
This book introduces the world of topology through active reader
participation. The activities provide concrete examples and insights into abstract concepts.
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Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
by Eleanor Coerr; illustrated by Ronald Himler
Dell Books, New York. 1977
Grades: 3–6
In this true story, a young Japanese girl is dying of leukemia as a result of radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima. According to Japanese tradition, if she can fold 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her well, but she was able to fold only 644 paper cranes before she died. In her honor, a Folded Crane Club was organized and each year on August 6, members place thousands of cranes beneath her statue to celebrate Peace Day. This moving story can introduce a class origami project to make 1,000 cranes or other origami figures, and of course connects strongly to social studies and current events issues.
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The Secret Birthday Message
by Eric Carle
Harper & Row, New York. 1986
Grades: Preschool–2
Instead of a birthday package, Tim gets a mysterious letter written in code. Full-color pages, designed with cut-out shapes, allow children to fully participate in this enticing adventure. This book could serve as an exciting way to launch a series of lessons on shapes, which could also include a project where the students make “shape books.”
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Shadowgraphs Anyone Can Make
by Phila H. Webb and Jane Corby
Running Press, Philadelphia. 1991
Grades: K–6
Illustrates how to make shadowgraphs of various animals and
humans. A simple verse accompanies each shadowgraph.
Students can create shadows and experiment with the size of
the shapes by holding hands nearer or farther from the light.
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The Shapes Game
by Paul Rogers; illustrated by Stan Tucker
Henry Holt & Co., New York. 1989
Grades: Preschool–2
Fun-to-say riddles and pictures that are kaleidoscopes of brilliant colors take young children from simple squares and circles through triangles, ovals, crescents, rectangles, diamonds, spirals, and stars.
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Shapes, Shapes, Shapes
by Tana Hoban
Greenwillow Books/William Morrow, New York. 1986
Grades: Preschool–5
Color photographs of familiar objects, such as a chair, barrettes, and manhole cover, are a way to study round and angular shapes.
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Spaces, Shapes and Sizes
by Jane J. Srivastava; illustrated by Loretta Lustig
Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. 1980
Grades: 1–6
This inviting and well-presented nonfiction book about volume shows the changing forms and shapes a constant amount of sand can take. The book includes estimation activities, an investigation of volume of boxes using popcorn, and a displacement activity. The reader will want to try the activities.
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The Tipi: A Center of Native American Life
by David and Charlotte Yue
Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 1984
Grades: 5–8
This excellent book describes not only the structure and uses of tipis, but Plains Indian social and cultural life as well. Some of the cultural language and oversimplification are less vital than they might be, but it is written in an accessible style. There are good charts, exact measurements, and information on the advantages of the cone shape. The central role played by women in constructing the tipi and in owning it are discussed. While this book includes some mention of the negative consequences of European conquest, noting that in some places tipis were outlawed, it is weak in this important area, and should be supplemented with other books.
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The Village of Round and Square Houses
by Ann Grifalconi
Little, Brown & Co., Boston. 1986
Grades: K–4
A grandmother explains to her listeners why the men live in square houses and the women live in round ones in their African village on the side of a volcano. The village of Tos really exists in the remote hills of the Cameroons. This book can begin an exploration of shape and structure. Caldecott Honor book.
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Wings & Things
by Stephen Weiss; illustrated by Paul Jackson
St. Martin’s Press, New York. 1984
Adult reference
Contains more than 30 paper origami models that fly. The great variety of shapes and flight patterns is especially appealing.
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It was built
against the will
of the immortal gods,
and so it did not last
for long.


— Homer
The Iliad


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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