a list of…five delightfully welcome books about house and home

Time to click those ruby red slippers together and whisper, “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.”  Home is surely where the heart is, and these five books about house and home have definitely captured hearts in our family.  You can’t go wrong with any of these great reads!


The Journey Home, story and pictures by Alison Lester

Wild and Wooly are a brother and sister who fall through a giant hole they’ve dug in their sandpit and wind up at …the North Pole.  So begins the adventure of a lifetime as they journey back home via arctic landscapes, ancient forests, castle-strewn valleys, oceanside dunes, pirate-infested bays, and the like.  Along the way they spend the night in a child’s dream-list assortment of homes.  One night, tiny lights and silver bells lead them to the Good Fairy’s treehouse where they dine on angel cakes and sugar kisses and sleep on downy cloud-beds hung from the ceiling.  Another night it’s salami sausage and pickled cucumbers with the Pirate King on his creaking ship.  Finally they reach a familiar house with parents and hugs and mugs of hot chocolate and their very own beds.  The pictures in this book are so charming you will find yourself wistfully wishing you could jump right into the journey yourself.

The Little House, story and pictures by Virginia Lee Burton

This is the classic Caldecott Medal Winner from 1942.   A pretty Little House was built way out in the countryside and spent many happy days watching the seasons pass in front of her — waiting for the first robin, watching apple trees burst into blossom in spring and children swim in the pond during hot summer days, enjoying the colorful autumn leaves and the snowy fields in winter.  Time passes by, however, and the Little House sees tremendous changes to the countryside as roads and traffic, apartment buildings and city lights, subways and skyscrapers all encroach upon her until even the moon and stars are blotted out from her view.  One happy day,  the great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the Little House spots her, miserably crouched in the densely crowded city and arranges for her to be moved back out to the country.  Ahhhh…a fresh coat of pink paint, tidy shutters and bright clean windows, and plenty of open space to enjoy the twinkling stars again.   Virginia Burton’s primitive, detailed, charming pictures will make a country-lover out of even the most city-bred among us.

We Were Tired of Living in a House, story by Liesel Moak Skorpen, pictures by Doris Burn

Sometimes walls and floors and doors get a bit mundane and parents can be a bit persnickety about flying kites indoors…so these four siblings pack up a bag with sweaters and socks and whatnot, and head out to more imaginative living quarters.  For starters:  a tree.  This makes a glorious house.  “There was always a breeze in the afternoon that rippled through our roof.  Above in a branch lived a speckled bird who sang all day for the sake of a song, and our roof in the autumn turned scarlet and gold.”  What’s not to like?  The brilliant platform perched high up in this granddaddy-of-trees has a delightful table for tea, a clever railing perfect for walking upon, a handy bucket-and-pulley system for hoisting up the dog.  I think I’d like to live there!  But when the breeze gets too strong, out they tumble, and then it’s on to find the next place.  A swell raft on the pond…a cool cave…a super sandcastle.  Each has its charm, but in the end, of course, going back home wins out.  Fantastic pen and ink drawings from an illustrator I’ve come to love.

A House Is a House for Me, story by Mary Ann Hoberman, pictures by Betty Fraser

This is an extraordinary book in a category all its own.  The text is a lilting rhyme which cleverly describes a vast profusion of houses.  Starting with the obvious — “A web is a house for a spider.  A bird builds its nest in a tree.  There is nothing so snug as a bug in a rug, And a house is a house for me!”  And moving the boundaries of thought out further and further — “A husk is a house for a corn ear.  A pod is a place for a pea.  A nutshell’s a hut for a hickory nut, But what is a shelter for me?”  Did you ever think of a book as a house for a story, or a rose as a house for a smell?  The ideas multiply like rabbits as we read along, and the illustrations  seem to burst at the seams as well.  Your child’s imagination will spark and fizz with new ways of looking at the world when you read this book! 

The Napping House, story by Audrey Wood, illustrations by Don Wood

This is not the house that Jack built, but the story is a cumulative story like that of Jack.  Simply, there is a bed, a cozy bed, and on the bed there is a snoring granny, and on the granny there is a dreaming child and so on and so on.  Everyone in that house  — granny, child, dog, cat, mouse — is napping; dozily, sleepily, peacefully napping.  Except. For one wakeful flea.  And because of that one wakeful flea with a penchant for biting, everyone is finally fully awake!  The magic of this book is in the incredible illustrations.  Subtly shifting in mood and perspective with each turn of the page, they also reflect a gradual change in the weather from pouring rain to brilliant sun; they foreshadow the action coming up in the text; and they give us an itty-bitty flea to hunt for in every scene.  A total delight for the eyes as well as a delightful story.

Happy reading!