If you are still looking for that unique last-minute gift idea for the holidays, one we might suggest for children is author Lora Teagarden’s The Little Architect’s Alphabet: Learning Your Letters through Design. The book was published in October 2020.
My children and I recently finished reading this primer on architecture and design, and it was great fun for all. It generated lots of questions and interest—even for kids well past learning their alphabet. It was also entertaining for me, as a dad, to explain all about the elements and the architect’s role in the construction of them. Following is an excerpt of my conversation with my 6- and 8-year-old daughters telling me what they thought about it. Enjoy.
A is for Arcade: My 6-Year-Old Enjoys “Arches Together”
Me: Hi; good morning. Ready for your interview?
Her: Yes, Dad.
Me: You know what my job is, correct?
Her: Yes, Architect!
Me: So, what does that mean that I do?
Her: You design houses and you also build offices. You also go to the city to work sometimes, and sometimes it takes a long time to build.
Me: Yes, sometimes it sure does. . . . Did you like the book now that we have finished it?
Her: I liked all of the talk and the pictures in the book.
Me: Let’s take a look through it again; here is A. Do you recognize this word?
Her: Arch, we see one when we drive to the city. I also like the arches together!
Me: You mean the arcade?
Her: Yes, and sometimes cars can drive across it, if you build a road on top. That can help you get across the water.
Me: That’s right. Why do you think we build the arch so high when it spans across the water?
Her: Hmm . . . why is that, Dad?
Me: Well, what kind of vehicle drives on the water?
She answers: A boat! That’s it, and it’s tall so that the pole doesn’t hit the top.
Me: That’s correct, the pole on the boat is called a mast. . . .Look, here all the types of doors. Do you remember them?
Her: I like the double door and turning door.
Me: Ah, you mean the French doors and the revolving door. (She answers: “Yes, that’s right.”) Why do you like them?
Her: Because they’re funny! Sometimes when one person walks in, another will spin it around and fall out! I saw it on the Pink Panther.
Me, laughing: Oh, really? Yes, that’s a funny cartoon, isn’t it? . . . So, what were your favorite things in the book?
Her: The pyramids, windows, roofs, and also elevators.
Me: So, you like the book?
Her: Yes, it was fun, Dad!
This Book Generates Good Discussions for Older Kids, Too
Me: Hi; are you ready for our interview?
Her, all mature and business-like: Yes; what are we talking about?
Me: I want to ask you what you thought of the book we read recently, The Little Architect’s Alphabet. First, though, can you tell me what my job is?
Her: You’re an architect: You help build buildings, design houses, other things, too, like apartments and office buildings.”
Me: That’s right! Sometimes we design stores and even monuments as well.
Her: Have you designed a Kohl’s, Dad?
Me: No, no Kohl’s stores. . . . So, what did you think of the book—did you like it?
Her: Yes, I thought it was very interesting.
Me: Obviously you knew your alphabet when we read it, [but] did you learn about architecture? What did you like the best?
Her: Yes, [I learned] when we read through it. Well, L for Living Room: It’s nice. I like living rooms.
Me: Cool! That’s a good place to start. Let’s look at the Ls. Ah, there is also Lighthouse. Your sister likes those; do you?
Her: Yes, they help to keep ships safe. What is the house for, Dad?
Me: There was a time when the lighthouse keeper and their family would live at the lighthouse. This was because the lighthouse usually isn’t located in the town but out on the coast, and it is important to keep it working during bad weather. Nowadays, ships on the ocean use GPS, so I don’t know how much lighthouses are still used.
Her: We can look it up on Google and see. . . .
Me: The next page has Museum; you’ve been to quite a few museums here and in St. Louis. Which are your favorites?
Her: First is the City Museum. I like crawling under the floor! Next is the [St. Louis] Art Museum, and then is the Magic House— it’s so much fun.
Me: Those are some fine choices. I agree: All of them are excellent fun. Here is an interesting one, Vestibule. Do you remember when we talked about it?
Her: Yes, they have one of those at the doctor’s office. You open one side of the doors, then you are in the little room. There is a bench and metal table in there. Then you open the other set of doors and can go in.
Me: That’s right; do you remember why we design buildings with vestibules?
Her: Yes, to keep the cold air out!
Me: That’s correct, and it works in the summertime to keep the cool air inside also. Clients don’t like to let cool air escape, which wastes energy because it raises the cost of their energy bill.
Also me: I thank you for sharing your thoughts; did you like the book overall?
Her: Yes, it was fun to learn about all the different things, but I’m still going to be a vet.
Me: That’s wonderful, honey. You can be anything that you want to be.
For additional gift ideas for children who are interested in building or designing things, please check out this article from our Friends at the Lawrence Group.