History Picture Book: The House That George Built

house-that-george-built-hires-4Slade, S. & Bond, E. (2012). The House That George Built. Watertown, MA. Charlsbridge.

Plot: Most elementary students learn that George Washington was the first president of the United States, but how many of them know that George was responsible for building the White House? This historical picture book, which has a cumulative tale woven throughout, tells how George was involved in all aspects of the house. From finding a location, to picking out an architect, to selecting materials, George did it all. Unfortunately, his term as president was up before the house was completed so he was the only president who did not get to live in this impressive home.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to use with students. It gives a general overview of how the White House came to be and tells of all the work that was involved. Very young students might enjoy just having the cumulative tale read to them, whereas older students would benefit from reading the book independently or with some teacher guidance.

Topics: History- George Washington, White House, Presidents; Science & Fine Arts- Architecture


A Junior Library Guild Selection

Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year

Quantitative Reading Level: 

Lexile Measure: 890; Grade Level Equivalent: 5-6; Pages: 32

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

Organization/Format: This book, which has beautiful water-color illustrations, starts out with a short introduction. Then, it explains all the details that George Washington had to oversee in order for the White House to be built. There are two separate texts that are used in the story. There is the informative text written in small font and there is the cumulative tale, written in large bolded font. After the story ends, the author gives information about the history of the white house. She also includes an extensive resources section.

Language Demands: Younger readers may need help with some more complicated words such as outrageous, bejeweled, stately, majestic, magnificent and quarries. 

Knowledge Demands: It would be helpful for students to have very basic knowledge of George Washington and the White House.  It might also be helpful to explain the different parts of the building process while reading to the students.

Meaning/Purpose: The purpose of this book is to show that hard work pays off. George Washington had a vision and a goal. With hard work and dedication, he completed the goal. It took over 8 years for the White House to be completed.

Content/Subject Area & Standards:

Fourth Grade ELA (Missouri Learning Standards)

2 Develop and apply skills and strategies to comprehend, analyze and evaluate fiction, poetry and drama from a variety of cultures and times. Read, infer and draw conclusions to: a. explain structural elements of poetry.

Fourth Grade Social Studies(Missouri Learning Standards)

1. Knowledge of the principles expressed in documents shaping constitutional democracy in the United States. E. Knowledge of continuity and change in the history of Missouri and the United States. Identify and describe the contributions of historically significant individuals to America and the United States prior to c. 1800. (See teacher resources for illustrative examples). F. Recognize and explain the significance of national symbols associated with historical events and time periods being studied.

Curriculum Suggestions: A cumulative tale is weaved into The House That George Built. Consider reading the cumulative tale first before reading the rest of the story. Then, have the students find and study other cumulative tales. Next, have students create their own cumulative tales. Finally, after studying the white house, have the students investigate other national symbols such as the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty.

Links to Supporting Content:

Reader’s Theater

Teacher’s Guide: The House That George Built

The White House: Interactive Tour


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