The Best Architecture Books for All Grade Levels

 “Architecture is art you can’t escape.” My husband said those words to me the other day, and they really stuck with me.

I started thinking, “Architecture is everywhere, but I really don’t spend very much time diving into the world of architecture in my classroom.” That was going to change! As art teachers, we find ourselves in a great position to educate our students about architecture through many different creative avenues. However, sometimes it’s nice to go back-to-basics with a great book. I combed through a stack of architecture books to bring you the best of the best for each grade level. I’ll go through the good (read it) and the bad (shelve it) so you can decide which to choose for your classroom. Happy reading!

 

best architecture books

 

Elementary Level Books

 

Architecture According to Pigeons

by Speck Lee Tailfeather

pigeon

Read it: This book is written by a Pigeon. I am not kidding. That alone should make you want to read it.

Shelve it: What kind of a teacher shelves a book written by a Pigeon? This book is ingenious for younger students.

 

Eyewitness Visual Dictionary: The Visual Dictionary of Buildings

a Dorling Kindersley Book

Picture 2

Read it: This book would be great for any grade level. It provides enlarged pictures that are labeled with every architectural element and definition you could possibly want to know.

Shelve it: Be prepared to know how to pronounce several of the architectural elements.

 

Crazy Buildings

by Michael J. Rosen and Ben Kassoy

Picture 3

Read it: This fun book showcases some of the oddest building structures ever designed. I can foresee many great conversations about what is considered architecture when reading through this book.

Shelve it: Come on, any book with Dog Bark Park Inn is worth a view.

 

Middle School Level Books

 

Architecture Explained

by Neil Stevenson

Picture 4

Read it: This awesome book helps diagram and pinpoint features from your favorite architectural structures. It’s like having a tour guide with you while you’re reading the book.

Shelve it: Tiny font in some sections…eyes beware!

 

There Goes the Neighborhood: Ten Buildings People Loved to Hate

by Susan Goldman Rubin

Picture 5

Read it: The title alone made me want to pick this book up. From the Eiffel Tower to McDonalds, the stories behind these architectural “wonders” will certainly make you question what you thought you knew.

Shelve it: Don’t shelve it…you’ll dazzle your students with these once-considered architectural doozies.

 

Architecture for Dummies

by Deborah K. Dietsch

Picture 6

Read it: This book has awesome sections about how to “Know and Appreciate Architecture” as well as some “Top 10” lists that will make you the hit of any architectural book club.

Shelve it: 98% of it has black and white photographs.

 

High School Level Books

 

Eyewitness Companions: Architecture

by Jonathan Glancey

Picture 7

Read it: This book is like the travelers guide to architecture. Perfect handheld guide with lots of great detail pictures, facts, and timelines.

Shelve it: You’re going to want to travel when you pick this book up and that’s going to cost you a lot of money.

 

The Story of Architecture

by Jonathan Glancey

Picture 8

Read it: This is the perfect reference book for your high school student to look up information because it highlights each architectural period with a brief synopsis and gives bonus architect spotlights.

Shelve it: 240 pages makes for a long read…I’d browse this book instead.

 

Art Teacher Book

 

The Annotated Arch: A Crash Course in the History of Architecture

by Carol Stickland, Ph.D.

Picture 9

Read it: This is the best architecture history book I have ever read. It takes you through all the major architectural achievements throughout history with additional side facts, charts, and lots of color pictures.

Shelve it: This book helped me pass my teaching exams. I have nothing but love and gratitude for this book.

 

There you go! Some great choices to get you started no matter what grade level you teach!

 
 

What are your favorite architecture books to use with students?

Are there any fiction titles you would add to this list?

 
 
 

Jennifer Borel

Jennifer is an middle school art teacher in Kansas who is passionate about creating an organized, well-managed environment where students feel comfortable to learn and explore.

Related

  • What a wonderful list – I am excited about The Annotated Arch – this looks like a must-have!

    I would like to add one:
    101 Things I Learned in Architecture School
    by Matthew Frederick
    I bought this for my daughter when she entered her first year at college for architecture and she loves it!

    • I just looked up your book suggestion! It looks so good!

      If you like the Annotated Arch you will also love the Annotated Mona Lisa!

      • Oh yes, that’s a great one, I have that in my classroom library :)

  • For fiction, I love “Iggy Peck Architect” by Andrea Beaty (http://www.amazon.com/Iggy-Peck-Architect-Andrea-Beaty/dp/081091106X). David Macaulay’s books (Castle, City, Pyramid, Cathedral, etc…) are also great!

  • Laurelee MacHale

    AGREE….”Iggy Peck Architect” is perfect. There are pictures of all the building you talked about the other day. Perfect read aloud, then I had my first graders construct all types of building in groups with wooden blocks. Highest, widest, etc…then we sketched, painted….The stories they came up with to go with their buildings were amazing.

  • MaraC

    For elementary/fiction – Roberto, the Insect Architect, by Nina Laden. Wonderful illustrations, great references to real architects! I love Nina Laden’s work.

  • Toni

    “kids” of all ages enjoy Iggy Peck Architect…great book!

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