Motherhood has given me an appreciation for construction sites that I never had before. I know what different machines do (to some extent!), and I am astounded by all the details of a construction site.
These ten picture books are filled with bright, eye-catching illustrations, and more than a few focus on how machines can help build playgrounds and parks for children to enjoy. They make it easy to celebrate all the noise and mess of construction. These books also encourage toddlers in their own creative play with construction vehicles. I get excited when I see dump trucks and cranes now, and Liam and I always theorize about what the machines are doing.
B is for Bulldozer: A Construction ABC (June Sobel and Melissa Iwai): This bright board book takes toddlers through the alphabet with rhymes focused on the construction of a theme park. There’s also a subtle passage through the seasons in the background, illustrating the time it takes to build the park. Liam loves the rollercoaster zooming at the end, as well as the children who stand at the fence and watch through the seasons.
What Can a Crane Pick Up? (Rebecca Kai Dotlich): This whimsical board book has Seuss-like rhymes as it shows all the many things a crane can lift high in the air. The illustrations and text are creative, and the story is upbeat.
The Diggers (Margaret Wise Brown): The Diggers is very different from Brown’s other books. The text and illustrations are quirky and original. There is some rhythm, but overall, the writing is hard to describe (but wonderful!). The book focuses on how animals and men can dig but how diggers provide the ability to complete even bigger projects. I love the colors and the whimsy of this book, as well as the train’s departure at the end.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld): This was one of our very first favorite books. The rhymes on each page are perfect, as the reader watches five construction vehicles tuck in tight and go to sleep. Yellows, oranges, and pinks illustrate the day each vehicle has while blues and blacks tie into the nighttime theme. The illustrations are beautiful, and the faces on each vehicle are delightful.
Dig! ( Andrea Zimmerman, David Clemesha and Marc Rosenthal): The reader follows Mr. Rally as he uses his digger to tackle five jobs. The repeated refrain as he completes each job adds unity to the story, and the conclusion is a lot of fun. Rosenthal’s drawings are cheerful.
Digger Man (Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha): The authors of Dig! (see above) also author and illustrate Digger Man, along with two of our other favorites: Fire Engine Man and Train Man). Their illustrations are colorful, as a little boy explains why he wants to own a digger in simple sentences. The big brother theme runs through this book, just as it does through Fire Engine Man and Train Man.
Tip Tip Dig Dig (Emma Garcia): In this board book, toddlers see the noise made by each construction vehicle as the vehicles work together to build an adventure playground. Each vehicle is a bright color, and the rhythm (focused on verbs) captures even the attention of very young babies, as well.
Mighty Dads (Joan Holub and James Dean): This celebration of parenthood shows how the daddy vehicles help the child vehicles learn how to do their jobs. The construction vehicles are given names (Little Vator for the child excavator and Dozy for the Dozer), which adds to the whimsy. The illustrations are bold. I really like the rhythm and the focus on each machine’s job. And of course, it ends where all good children’s books end: at bedtime.
Demolition (Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock): The illustrations for Demolition focus on what each machine does and are less cheerful but very well-done. At first, I was a bit put off by the focus on destruction (although Liam certainly wasn’t; he loved the riveting rhythm and noises). However, the end shows the fun purpose behind all the demolition. I especially love the focus on the significant parts of each machine (like the jaws or the wrecking ball). This one is probably geared toward older toddlers, and there is a great section at the end that gives more detail about each machine.
Job Site (Nathan Clement): This book focuses on what the boss tells each machine to do. The repeated “Boss says…” gives unity to the story as each machine does its job. The focus is on each machine until the very end when you see what they were working so hard on. Try to find the boss in the last picture.
It seems like there are a lot of construction-focused picture books out there. Do you have any we should check out?