Book Review: This house, once by Deborah Freedman

  • This House, Once
  • Written by Deborah Freedman
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York, 2017
  • A story about how a house came to be and the materials used to build it before they were used.

A poetic picture book about where the pieces and parts of a house come from and what they might have been before they became a house.

What I Like About This Book

Books that build a strong sequence are perfect for preschoolers. Building a story little by little helps strengthen narrative skills in future readers. Not only is the child learning the materials used in building houses, he also sees the world around him in a different way. See what is in nature and imagine what it could and can be.

The language is unique and fresh in this story. It isn’t too often in a day that a child will hear the words colossal, oozed, cleft, shingled, melted. Each repeated reading the child will learn the words and build a strong dictionary in her mind for when she begins to read later in her school years.

The pictures are simple and complement the text well. Just as the text builds the words around a house, the pictures build the image of a house page by page. It is amazing how this thoughtful act of placement helps children develop their own ability to retell stories.

Lastly, the lilting flow of the text makes this a perfect curl- up- under- the- blanket read.

This door was once a colossal oak tree

about three hugs around

and as high as the blue.

A more perfect sentence was never written! This type of writing not only draw the child into the book but the parent as well making it a shoo-in for reading over and over and over again. With each repetition the child’s vocabulary and narrative skills will build.

How to Use This Book

This is a great book to try and recreate the story on the page. Go outside and gather sticks, dirt, stone and other natural materials and build a house. Name each of the materials you gather. For example if you find branches from a maple tree, look at the leaves and the bark and the roots.

Ask questions about the book after reading like, What is the door made of? How are windows made? Don’t forget to look at the pictures and talk about what is happening on the page that might not be mentioned in the text. This helps build reading comprehension.

Talk about your house or apartment. What is it made of? Start with the door, just like the book and work your way up. Another great way to converse with your child in a positive way, while building vocabulary and relating back to the story.

What to Read Next?

Try these other books that build strong narrative skills.

bag i'm taking to grandmas

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