When I come across a great book that happens to also deal with design, I can't help but share it. Two such books written by Chris Van Dusen are the top of my list and are definitely worthy of purchasing new. If I built a House and If I Built a Car both involve a clever little boy who while bored with his average house/car invents a new design for each. The stories are both great examples of how the imagination can make life way more interesting. In IF I BUILT A Car, Jack designs a vehicle that embodies a typical childlike fantasy with its hide-a-way pool, conveyer belt snack bar, driving robot, and retractable wings. VanDusen touches upon designing for the 5 senses with ideas like an engine that converts gasoline fumes into a more pleasing smell (like blueberry muffins) and even considers passenger safety with a special polymer gel exterior that doesn't dent.
The humor, whimsy, and practical lessons of the design process make this probably the best book I have read to my kids so far and one perfect for the classroom. Plus, it rhymes, and I am pretty sure that all children's books should rhyme.
This book does NOT disappoint the older student. I have read it to my 8th graders as a fun break from designing their linear perspective interiors and every one of them sat quietly with wide eyes as I read. Even my 10th graders enjoyed flipping through and remarked on the design process that the book covered.
Special thanks to Aunt Vicki for gifting If I built a House!!