Pat Thomson introduces a new seven-part series
Putting a project together ideally begins with an unhurried survey of all the resources, and then a drawing together of the elements which most suit the age and ability of your particular group of children. If time seems short and information about resources seems less accessible than you would hope, Books for Keeps‘ new Lifeline series may help.
For the 5-12 age range, each section will cover one major topic and suggest non-fiction books, stories and poems related to the one theme. The addresses of organisations which offer help and material to schools will also be included. The result should be a broadly based range of options which remind you of good material, inform you about new books and maybe even suggest new approaches within the chosen theme. If they won’t give you a research assistant, use BfK instead!
Other themes to be covered in the series include Water, Food, and Clothing.
PART 1: HOUSE AND HOME
The age range covered here is 5-12 years but these titles have been chosen because, used imaginatively, they offer possibilities to a wider range than dictated by reading age. Some of the illustrations are information sources in their own right across the age range, and some of the picture books touch on issues which are valuable discussion starting-points for children older than the format traditionally suggests. The British Kitchen, mentioned below, is a good example. The pictures are ideal for identifying mysterious household objects on historical house visits. The text will be inaccessible to all but the most able readers but teachers will find it uniquely valuable Series are mentioned when it is worth investigating other titles in those series. Some titles are out of print but have been included as they may still be available through libraries.
Moving House, Nicky Daw, A & C Black 1987, 0 7136 2849 9, £4.50
Picture book, suitable across the younger primary age range because it raises a number of discussion points which affect older children too. Moving house involves emotional as well as physical factors.
Construction and Design
Building a House, Byron Barton, Julia MacRae 1981, 0 86203 051 X, o/p; Picture Lions, 0 00 662265 8, £ 1.95 pbk
Captioned picture book which traces very simply the major stages in building a house.
Building a House, Hannah Jacobs, Hamish Hamilton 1985, 0 241 11555 8, £4.95
The same processes covered in more detail for junior and lower middles.
Working on a Building Site, Andrew Langley, Wayland 1983, 0 85078 284 8, £5.50
gives a closer look at all the individual trades involved.
Pipes and Wires, Rosemary and Charlotte Ellis, Bodley Head 1975, 0 370 01588 6, o/p
The domestic services, like water and electricity, looked at in a way which can lead to simple scientific experiment.
Windows, 1975, 0 370 01587 8, o/p, by the same authors and publisher, is an intriguing juxtaposition of the practical and the aesthetic. Ventilation, temperature and the construction of windows leads the reader into a consideration of viewpoints, the picture from the window.
The House that Science Built, Michael Pollard, Cambridge University Press 1987, 0 521 33237 0, £4.95
This looks at the house, the services and the materials found in a home in terms of modern technological innovation.
Building Homes, Graham Rickard, Wayland 1988, 1 85210 1865, £5.75
Written by an author whose special interest is building techniques, this book pays particular attention to materials and methods across the world. Useful glossary, as it clarifies the technical terms used by builders.
Investigating Homes, C B Green, Arnold-Wheaton 1985, 0 560 26530 1, £ 1.95
Part of a field-work series (Investigating series) which offers activity-based workbooks. This one covers types of homes past and present, geographical and environmental considerations and construction. There is also a section on data collection and the arrangement of classification sheets.
How It Used To Be
The Ideal Home, Fulvio Testa, Abelard 1982, 0 200 72768 0, £5.95
A playful, pictorial representation of people’s ideas about homes from caves to skyscrapers. Anachronisms spotlight points of interest.
Homes in History, Molly Harrison, Wayland 1983, 0 85078 310 0, £5.50
The home through the ages, each double spread illustrated by a contemporary painting, full of domestic detail. Useful picture source list.
Looking at Houses, Audrey Gee, Batsford 1983, 0 7134 0845 6, £7.95
An historical look at the house as a whole and its component parts. Good details on domestic equipment.
Exploring Buildings, Ralph Whitlock, Wayland 1987, 1 85210 002 8, £5.95
The historical view, based on observation. Includes non-domestic buildings but helpful on the principle that we can start to study homes in history by going out and looking at what we have in the local area.
Houses and Homes, Penny Marshall, Macdonald 1985, 0 356 10145 2, £5.95
Part of the Camera as Witness series. Revealing contemporary photographs, covering the period 1850 to 1960s.
The British Kitchen, Doreen Yarwood, Batsford 1981, 0 7134 1430 8, £14.95
For only the most able readers but an excellent reference source for the teacher and full of pictures and drawings which are accessible to all.
In the Kitchen, Harry T Sutton, Longman 1983, 0 582 39231 4, o/p
A ‘Museum Puzzle-Picture Book’. The puzzle element draws attention to the differences of period detail.
Houses and Homes, Anne Mountfield, Macmillan Education 1988, 0 333 43940 6, £6.50
Double spreads on both standard areas and the less well documented, such as stairs and lifts, locks and bolts, and pipes and drains.
An Edwardian Household, Stewart Ross, Wayland 1986, 0 85078 6215, £4.50
Shows the Edwardian home and social life.
For more recent changes, the How We Used to Live series (A & C Black) and Into the Past series (Longman) both use a well illustrated text to show homes and home life through the twentieth century.
Different Kinds of Houses and Homes
How Do People Live?, Philip Steele, Macdonald 1985, 0 356 11158 X, £3.95
A brief text to accompany large, colourful pictures which tour the world. They point up especially the materials used to build homes and the aesthetic element.
Houses and Homes Around the World, Josephine Karavasil, Macmillan 1973, 0 333 34549 5, £5.95
Features big double spreads of colour photographs.
Houses and Homes series, Alan James, Wayland 1988, £4.95 each
A varied series on this theme which includes thematic surveys, like Homes in Cold Places (1 85210 193 8), Homes in Hot Places (1 85210 192 X), and Homes on Water (1 85210 187 3) which covers, diversely, life in Ho Chi Minh City and on an oil rig.
The Beans series, A & C Black, £4.50 each
focuses on particular families and their home life, simply presented. Turkish Village, Bernard McDonagh, 1987 (071362923 1), and Elena in Cyprus, Ruth and Neil Thomson, 1987 (0 7136 2922 3), for example, give insights into family life while implying wider issues outside the family.
A Farming Family in Wales, Robin Gwyndaf, A & C Black 1979, 0 7136 1919 8, o/p. Nearer home, the family-centred idea is continued in a less exotic setting, or so the black and white treatment suggests.
At Home and Abroad series (Macmillan) is more detailed and includes suggestions for activities and discussions. It demands a more sophisticated reader to cope with the fragmented presentation which is a mixture of straight text, conversation, picture captions and information boxes. However Ellen and Alan, Steve Harrison, 1986, 0 333 38611 6, £5.00, certainly conveys an intimate sense of actually being in Barbados and meeting people there.
Living in Makkah, Shadiya Sugich, Macdonald 1987, 0 356 10327 7, £5.95. Part of the City Life series, this book also deals with wider issues and is particularly good at portraying the range of buildings in this Moslem city.
Wayland’s Original Peoples series presents a complete contrast and looks at the worlds of groups like the Aborigines of Australia, Robyn Holder, 1985, 0 85078 419 0, £4.95, and Eskimos: the Inuit of the Arctic, J H Greg Smith, 1984, 0 85078 420 4, £5.50.
To remind us that not all homes stay in one place, On the Move, Tessa Potter, Macmillan Education 1987, 0 333 42622 3, £6.95, looks at Nomads from the Kalahari to Gerry Cottle’s Big Top, and two well illustrated books which bring us back to Britain are
A Traveller Child, Jose Patterson, Hamish Hamilton 1985, 0 241 11573 6, £4.95, and
Gypsy Family, Mary Waterson, A & C Black 1978, 0 7136 1813 0, £3.95.
In all this variety, there is still a place to talk about the homeless. Children Need Homes, Harry Undy, Wayland 1988, 1 85210 105 9, £6.95, shows us what happens when people do not have homes, for whatever reason, and in doing so reminds us that homes are more than buildings or constructions. It is part of The World’s Children series, for whom the consultant is the Save the Children Fund.
On a lighter note, and just in case you thought you were alone, The Wildlife in Your Home, Terry Jennings, Young Library 1984, 0 946003 17 3, o/p, and Animals in Your Home, Pat and Helen Clay, A & C Black 1985, 0 7136 2590 2, £3.95, offer yet another intriguing, if itchy, facet of the subject.
FICTION AND POETRY
A mechanical ‘have you got a poem to go with…’ approach is not an inspiring way to use literature but children beginning to look below the surface of a topic, as a result of a project, can be in exactly the right frame of mind to receive this particular poem or that story. It takes a poem like Colum’s ‘Old Woman of the Roads’, for example, to extend thought beyond the practical facts, and hint at why home and simple possessions might mean so much. Literature can add to the functional but then offers us a further dimension.
Miss Brick the Builder’s Baby, Allan Ahlberg and Colin McNaughton, Viking Kestrel, 0 670 80580 7, £3.95; Puffin, 0 14 03.1242 0, £1.95 pbk
Despite belonging to a builder’s family, Baby Brick does what all babies do with bricks!
I Can Build a House!, Shigeo Watanabe, Bodley Head, 0 370 30965 0, £4.50; Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.458 3, £l .50 pbk
Little Bear’s building operations finally result in a cardboard box house. Very simple text.
Home Sweet Home, Maureen Roffey, Bodley Head, 0 370 304810, £4.50; Piccolo, 0 330 28454 1, £2.75 pbk
A guessing game about animal homes. Peep through the cut-outs and see where everyone lives.
Better Move On, Frog!, Ron Maris, Julia MacRae, 0 86203 083 8, £5.95; Picture Lions, 0 00 662266 6, £1.95 pbk
Frog looks for a suitable home and finally finds the right habitat. Short text.
A House is a House for Me, Mary Ann Hoberman, Viking Kestrel, 0 7226 5522 3, o/p; Picture Puffin, 0 14 050.394 3, £2.50 pbk
A rhyming picture book which assigns a home to everyone and everything.
Billy on the Building Site, John Talbot, A & C Black, 0 7136 2658 5, £3.95
Good pictures of the site and equipment but perhaps better used to introduce the idea of safety on building sites.
Once There Was a House, Greg Reyes and Judy Hindley, Collins, 0 00 195626 4, £4.95
Starts as a picture book and finishes as a blueprint for building a cardboard house.
Oscar Mouse Finds a Home, Moira Miller, Methuen, 0 416 52560 1, £5.50; Magnet, 0 416 07182 1, £1.95 pbk
Oscar searches until he finds the perfect place.
House by Mouse, George Mendoza, Magnet, 0 416 25510 8, £1.25 pbk
Mouse creates just the right environment for all her friends. Interesting design implications in a simple form.
arranged chronologically, starting with the youngest:
What Size is Andy?, Moira Miller, Methuen, 0 416 45270 1, £5.95; Magnet, 0 416 52490 7, £l.50 pbk
A collection of short stories about Andy and his family, including the one about Gran’s new house. Just right for reading aloud to infants.
Carrot Top, Nigel Gray, Orchard, 1 85213 054 7, £6.25
Short chapters which stand alone, and one of them shows how some dads are just no good at decorating at all.
Charlie and Elly Stories, Frances Farrer, Gollancz, 0 575 03966 3, £6.95
Ten-minute stories. ‘Charlie and Elly and Mick’ describes what happens when the roof has to he repaired.
M and M and the Haunted House Game, Pat Ross, Young Lions, 0 00 672595 3, £1.75 pbk
Mandy and Mimi turn their room into a veritable haunted house and frighten themselves to death. Lively easy reader.
The House that Sailed Away, Pat Hutchins, Bodley Head, 0 370 110218, £5.50; Young Lions, 0 00 671452 8, £1.95 pbk
Short novel for seven/eight. and up; the funny story of a family which sails away in a flood, house and all.
Callie’s Castle, Ruth Park, Angus and Robertson, 0 207 15187 3, o/p
Callie longs for a room of her own, somewhere to escape from the confused feelings engendered by her changing family. The room in the turret becomes her own territory, her castle. Short novel.
The Great House, Cynthia Harnett, Methuen, 0 416 51220 8, £7.95; Puffin, 0 14 03.0351 0, £1.25 pbk
A splendid new house is to be built, worthy of the eighteenth century which is about to dawn. Absorbing and detailed story of the architect’s children and the change from old styles to the new. Good class book; lots to discuss.
The Stones of Green Knowe, Lucy Boston, Puffin, 0 14 03.1061 4, £1.75 pbk
Roger is the first of the Green Knowe children and in AD 1120 he watches the stone manor being built. There is a time-slip element and adventure but the house itself is always part of the story.
Dream House, Jan Mark, Viking Kestrel, 0 670 80189 5, £6.95
Hannah loves the old Manor House where her mother works. For others, the dream lies in the famous people who come there. For her, the magic is in the house. An expertly characterised story, amusing because it is so well observed.
A selection of poems for which just one location is given. As they also appear in other collections, try your own shelves first. The last two are complete collections.
‘Obituary on the demolition of a house in Grove Lane, Camberwell’ by Maria Dawson in Delights and Warnings, John and Gillian Beer, Macdonald, 0 356 11212 8, £5.95
‘Bramblepark’ by Charles Causley in Jack the Treacle Eater, Macmillan, 0 333 42963 X, £7.95
‘Willowherb’ by Richard Church in Poemcards 1, David and Elizabeth Grugeon, Harrap, 0 245 51018 4, o/p
‘The Old Woman of the Roads’ by Padraic Colum in Wordscapes, Barry Maybury, Oxford, 0 19 833138 X, £3.25
‘Houses’ by Rachel Field, `House Coming Down’ by Eleanor Farjeon, ‘House’ by Leonard Clark, and ‘Wanted’ by Rose Fyleman, all in The Possum Tree, Lesley Pyott, A & C Black, 0 7136 2706 9, £6.95
‘Building a Skyscraper’ by James S Tippett in Once Upon a Rhyme, Sara and Stephen Corrin, Faber, 0 571 11913 1, £5.95; Young Puffin, 0 14 03.1639 6, £2.25 pbk
‘The Building Site’ by Gareth Owen in Song of the City, Collins, 0 00 184846 1, £4.95; Fontana Lions, 0 00 672410 8, £1.95 pbk
‘The House on the Hill’ by Wes Magee in The Kingfisher Book of Comic Verse, Roger McGough, 0 86272 217 9, £7.95
The Young Puffin Book of Verse, Barbara Ireson, 0 14 03.0410 X, £2.25 pbk
A substantial section devoted to homes and houses.
The Parrot in the Garret, Leonore Blegvad, Julia MacRae, 0 86203 049 8, o/p
Short verses, each depicting in some way, a home for an animal.
The following organisations offer information or materials suitable for schools. The items mentioned are those which are free or cost a nominal sum, but other materials may be available at a reasonable charge (e.g. films, slides, etc.). Enquiries to these addresses:
Building Societies Association
Schools Liaison Officer
3 Savile Row
(Colour booklets, charts)
Kensington High Street
Council for Environmental Education
School of Education
University of Reading
24 London Road
London Brick Company
P 0 Box 259
P 0 Box 12
(Booklet listing resources)
Royal Institute of British Architects
66 Portland Place
15-17 Great Marlborough Street
Glass and Glazing Federation
44-48 Borough High Street
Halifax Building Society
P 0 Box 60
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
Pat Thomson is Professional Studies Librarian at Nene College of Higher Education, past chair of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, and author of the ‘Share-a-Story’ series from Gollancz.