If You Lived Here: Houses of the World
by Giles Laroche
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher
Staying in bed and breakfasts across Belgium last summer really got me thinking about how different houses are around the world. Every B&B was narrow and tall, with staircases up to 2nd- or 3rd-floor rooms that were nearly unmanageable with our luggage.
One of my students recently brought in a picture of her family's home in Mexico. It's a huge sprawling home, big enough to accommodate her extended family at different times of the year, and the landscape around it is dry and mountainous. Another student from a remote village in Bangladesh frequently draws his home there, carefully coloring the front door red.
Home is important and personal and unique to each family and culture. That's why IF YOU LIVED HERE would make a great nonfiction read aloud -- it can start conversations about the different homes we live in and see around us, and it can open our minds to all the kinds of homes people have lived in around the world at different times in history.
This is a book that students will want to look at more closely after you read it aloud. Every page has, along with a short paragraph of main text, the details of house type, materials, location, date, and one or more fascinating facts about that house. (No flipping to the back for extra information in this book -- NICE!) The illustrations are "intricate bas-relief collages made in many stages of drawing, cutting, painting and gluing."
As you read this book aloud, you might want to have a map available to locate all of the places in the world where these houses are found. (There's also a map in the back of the book.) Another activity might be to make a timeline that shows when these houses were first built. Most date back hundreds of years and are still in use today! Finally, a discussion of how the environment where these houses were built affected the design and/or materials could help to build an understanding of how the setting in a story affects the plot.
You can see some interior pages on Giles Laroche's website.