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Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building
by Christy Hale
(Lee & Low, 2012)
Buy this book
A collection of illustrations, concrete poetry, and photographs that shows how young children's constructions, created as they play, are reflected in notable works of architecture from around the world.
awards • reviews
  • Nonfiction Honor Winner
    Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
  • Children's and Young Adult Book Award Honor
    International Reading Association (IRA)
  • 2012 California Book Award
  • Read! Build! Play! Summer Reading list of Books that Inspire Play ALSC and LEGO
  • Notable Children's Book
    American Library Association (ALA)
  • Fanfare 2012 Horn Book Magazine
  • Best of the Best 2012 Chicago Public Library
  • Best Books of 2012 Kirkus Reviews
  • "Starred Review" Horn Book Magazine
  • 2014 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
  • Best Children's Books of the Year
    Bank Street College of Education

"Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building is a delightful book. It provides children with an easy path to understanding architecture.

—Cesar Pelli, featured architect


"Con este libro mis nietas descubrieron que yo soy un arquitecto como ellas." (With this book my granddaughters discovered that I am an architect like them.)

—Simón Vélez, featured architect


Hale turns her educated eye to modern and contemporary architecture and produces a book that is at once groundbreaking, child-friendly and marvelously inclusive.


With a celebratory tone, Hale cleverly structures this unusual picture book by matching a series of lively concrete poems and vignettes of young children at play (creating simple structures of all types), pairing them with carefully selected photos of complementary, emblematic 20th- and 21st-century structures. Mud pies are compared to Hassan Fathy’s all-earthen New Gourna Village (Luxor , Egypt); beachfront sand castles to Antoni Gaudí’s soaring La Sagrada Família Basilica (Barcelona, Spain); busy LEGO® projects with Moshe Safdie’s modular Habitat 67 housing (Montréal, Québec); cardboard-tube models to Shigeru Ban’s amazing Paper Tube School (Sichuan Provence, China); tongue-depressor/Popsicle-stick and white-glue crafts with the vertical slats of David Adjaye’s Sclera Pavilion (London, England); and the “soft forms / tumble making / ever-changing / caverns, secret spaces” of pillow forts with Frank Gehry’s curvilinear Guggenheim (Bilbao, Spain). Well-organized and accessible backmatter contains the photo, name and location of each of the 15 highlighted structures, a brief biography of and a telling quote from each structure’s architect, and Hale’s own portrait of each designer.


This extraordinary new picture book masterfully tackles the complex task of contextualizing seemingly complex architectural concepts within a child’s own world of play.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review


"Building—with blocks or sand, sticks or other improvisatory materials—is one of childhood’s most entertaining forms of play. Here, fifteen such play building projects are deftly rendered in mixed-media collage and paired with photos of iconic buildings that look like they could have been inspired by imaginative children’s constructions. A toddler’s upside-down stack of graduated plastic doughnuts resembles Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum; a “pillow fort” mimics Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim. Concrete poems describe the children’s structures. . . . While lots of books show children how to play, this one suggests that using what’s at hand to “dream up” new things is vital to creativity: as the book’s epigraph says, “If they can dream it, they can build it.""
—Horn Book
, starred review


[E]veryone should experience their own moment of delight at discovering . . . Christy Hale’s superbly simple yet incredibly clever format. [S]he clearly has an imaginative penchant for creative structures and their creators.

Read the full review here.
—Book Dragon (Smithsonian)


The poems are short and playful. I love how they speak of children creating their own spaces and inhabiting the world built to their dreaming. It shouldn't be a surprise how completely the actual buildings match the play buildings; but it was often a delightful surprise. . . . This book will be a big hit with young children who love to build forts, hideouts, or play with construction toys.
—A Wrung Sponge


Read more reviews here.

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