Okay, I’ll admit it. I bought this book as much for me, as I did the kids.
Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen’s kid-friendly exploration of America’s leading architect and his work, Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids, has recently been revised and expanded (and added to my book shelf… I mean my children’s book shelf!).
Over the course of twelve chapters, Thorne-Thomsen details different aspects of Wright’s life and work, beginning with a chapter on Wright’s childhood and his early love of nature and concluding with significant works completed in his final years, including the geometry of the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the ‘space-aged’ Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wisconsin.
The book is filled with interesting facts, lots of photographs, maps and drawings and illustrated examples of how things such as symmetry, geometry and patterns found in nature were important elements in Wright’s work. Those who are familiar with the details of Wright’s life, may know that he was considered unconventional for his time and to this end, there’s an appropriate level of detail included in the book to provide insight into Wright’s influences, such as his love of Japanese art and the importance of designing spaces for families.
The highlight of this book is the hands-on, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired activities. There are 21 projects ranging from the very simple – fold a paper cup from basic geometry shapes and make a miniature Japanese kite to the more advanced, such as making a geometric textile block from plaster. A few of the activities will have kids in the kitchen (making Wright’s favourite breakfast or cinnamon muffins) – my favourite is the project using biscuits to build a model of Fallingwater – a delicious way to learn about cantilevers.
Not all of the activities rely on craft or adult supervision. There are some thoughtful exercises included such as listening for sounds made by water (accompanied by a marvellous list of ‘water words’ to fire imaginations), a guide to reading architectural plans and a ‘how-to’ for designing your own city.
Through the text and the activities, children will gain great insight into how Wright’s building came to be and how the many things that influenced him were translated in his designs.
Although the text in Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids is most suited to children aged ten years and over, many of the activities could be done with younger children. Find it online at Book Depository, which delivers free to Australia.