Like many kids his age, my 3-year-old nephew is obsessed with trucks. He has a miniature dump truck he can pick up dirt with for hours, demands to watch Cars daily, and can even point out the kind of vehicle his mom drives when he sees it on the street. Lately, I've been giving him children's books about construction to feed his interest and get him more excited about reading.
My plan has worked, mostly because there are so many good picture books about building. The genre is fairly robust because a lot of kids go through a period of loving trucks and construction, leading authors to create books for them. The process of making things and the tools we use to do it are popular subject for books in part because they can help kids develop. As the Scholastic Parent blog points out, children can learn new vocabulary, develop their fine motor skills, and understand cause and effect by reading about or playing with construction toys. These books appeal to the natural curiosity and help them grow, ~building~ their brains.
So I'll continue to give my nephew every book about construction and trucks I can get my hands on that I might learn the difference between a backhoe, roller, and digger, and I tip my hat off to you if you plan on doing the same for the little builder in your life. Read on to learn about eight engaging picture books about construction.
"Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site" by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
This terrifically fun tale will lull your tuckered out toddler to sleep as they bid a host of construction trucks goodnight. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is the first book in Sherri Duskey Rinker's Construction Site series, and introduces readers to Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator, trucks and friends who are ready to rest. Once your kiddo gets excited about all of Rinker's characters, they can follow them in the rest of the books in her series.
"Diggersaurs" by Michael Whaite
Michael Whaite's Diggersaurs (Random House Books for Young Readers) combines two things kiddos love: trucks and dinosaurs. This books features 12 dinosaur trucks, including Scoopersaurus and Dumpersaurus, who roar like like they're from the jurassic era but can build roads like a modern truck. Little readers will love the inventive names, and they'll have a blast discovering all the things these hybrids can do.
"Roadwork" by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
If your kid has just developed a fascination with dump trucks and dirt, they'll love Sally Sutton's Roadwork (Scholastic), which is basically an introduction to the wild world of construction. It takes young readers through the process of building a road, step by step, showing them just how much work goes into creating the world we live in.
"Phoebe & Digger" by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Jeff Newman
A combination of an exploration of sibling rivalry and an ode to construction trucks, Phoebe & Digger (Candlewick Press) tells the story of Phoebe and her toy truck Digger, which she was given as a gift after mom has a new baby. Phoebe takes care of Digger while her mom is busy with her sibling, until they go to the park and a big kid tries to take Digger away. The incident becomes a changing point in Phoebe's relationship with her new brother, helping them grow closer. Really, it's a story about building relationships, not buildings.
'Richard Scarry's Busy Busy Construction Site' by Richard Scarry
Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Richard Scarry's birth (he died in 1994), Richard Scarry's Busy Busy Construction Site comes out June 4 and features the greatest hits from other books like Busy Busy Cars & Trucks.
The popularity of Scarry's books has not wavered (how about that banana boat?!), and his son has continued his work, sometimes working under the name Huck Scarry, and sometimes under Richard Scarry.
"Alphabet Under Construction" by Denise Fleming
Rather than constructing buildings or roads, the little mouse in Denise Fleming's Alphabet Under Construction (Scholastic) is making the alphabet itself. Young readers can enjoy the fun of a construction story while they learn about the alphabet and build their vocabulary, as the story is designed to teach new words as it unfolds. From airbrushing the A to zipping the Z, your little one will be more excited than ever about the world of building.
"What Can a Crane Pick Up?" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Mike Lowery
This rhythmical tale catalogs all the things cranes can pick up, starting with normal things you'd see on a construction site like bricks or steel to wackier options like cows, ferris wheels, and even people. What Can A Crane Pick Up? (Knopf Books for Young Readers) by Rebecca Kai Dotlich is an unpredictable read aloud story that will keep little readers guessing and laughing until the very last page.
"I'm Dirty!" by Kate McMullan, illustrated by Jim McMullan
Perfect for construction experts, Kate and Jim McMullan's weave the technical terms for tools and vehicles into their story of an enthusiastic dump truck, helping little readers learn the trade they love so much. I'm Dirty! (HarperCollins) is also available as a series to stream on Amazon, letting your construction obsessed kiddo get even more fun out of the story. Watch the trailer here.
"The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton
Winner of the Caldecott Award, The Little House (Scholastic) is a classic in the construction picture book genre. Virginia Lee Burton's story of a quiet, country house that's unhappy with all the modern construction popping up around it has been wowing young readers since 1943. The house feels overwhelmed by its new surroundings, but hope is restored when someone finally sees the house's potential and trundles it out to the countryside.
'Dig Dump Roll' by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
By the end of Dig, Dump, Roll (Penguin Random House), you won't just know all the names of construction vehicles you've been referring to with the blanket "bulldozers," you'll have Sutton's rhythmic "Wham a hammer, bam a slamma" prose stuck in your head. From the creators of Roadwork, here's another classic.