By: Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated By: Henry Cole
An empty old house wants a family to move inside, but it is in such disrepair that potential buyers keep turning away. The house’s friends (some birds, a squirrel, and a tree) try to cheer up the house and tell it to stand straight and twinkle its windows, but nothing seems to help. And when they hear the rumble of a bulldozer, they all fear for their lives. Has the old house seen its last day, or is the rumble coming from a moving truck with a happy family inside? Edwards tells a delightful read-aloud story that is full of friendship, empathy, and inspiration. Cole’s illustrations are heartwarming and bright. And the expressions of feelings he gives the house is truly clever.
Below are some activity ideas and storytelling tips for this Picture Book Favorite!
Houses Have Feelings, Too?: After reading The Old House, take children on a walk around a neighborhood. Tell them that they are going to look at houses in a different way. The house in the book had feelings, and the feelings were expressed by the houses features. Can they look at the houses in the neighborhood and decide how the houses feel? Happy? Sad? Excited? Tired? What kind of “personality” does a particular house have? Maybe a house with interesting architecture would be “clever”? Maybe a house with multicolored paints and fixtures would be “creative”?
If I Were a House: After reading The Old House, give children a piece of plain paper and some crayons, markers or colored pencils. Ask them to pretend that they are a house. What kind of house are they? A castle? A motorhome? A cottage? Ask them to draw and color a picture of this house. What colors are they going to “paint” it? What is in the yard? Is their house in a town or in the country? Does the house have any friends like the house in the book? When children are finished with their house ask them to share what they came up with. You may want to help them write a description of the house, too.
Happy Home Makeover: After reading The Old House, ask children to look at their own home. How do they think their house or apartment feels? Is there anything that they can do to make their house or apartment happier? Maybe they could give their house or apartment some friends by planting some flowers outside in the yard or patio. Could they help put a fresh coat of paint on the front door or porch? Could they wash the windows to make them twinkle and shine?
1. Children like to predict what is going to happen during a story. Before you read the book, ask children to look at the cover and predict who the main character is going to be? Who might the other characters be? If nobody guesses the birds and squirrel on the letters of the title, gently draw their attention there.
2. The illustrator does a great job of personifying the house. When the house shows the expression of a feeling, pause and ask children what the house is feeling. Can they show that feeling on their faces?
3. Children will naturally relate themselves to the characters in stories. In fact there is much learning happening while empathizing with characters. Ask children if they have ever felt alone like the house? Do they have friends that help cheer them up? Have they ever helped a lonely person feel better?
If you would like to buy a copy of this book, there are plenty of used copies on Amazon. Please follow this link:
And remember, by reading to children, you are cultivating a literacy culture. You are helping children build a lifelong love of reading and writing!