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The Little House
The Little House
The Little House
by Virginia Lee Burton

A country house is unhappy when the city, with all its buildings and traffic, grows up around her.

Age: 4 Year-olds | Title: The Little House  |  Author: Virginia Lee Burton  |  Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A country house is unhappy when the city, with all its buildings and traffic, grows up around her.

This Caldecott Medal winning book has been entertaining little ones since 1942 so just like the little house in the story, grandparents and parents will be excited to share it with a third generation. The color pencil pictures are thoughtfully detailed. Typically, one page contains the words and perhaps a few tiny accent pictures, while the opposing page is filled with a beautiful scene. The country scenes are quite colorful, reflecting all the bright colors of the four seasons. Fall jumps right off the page with orange, brown, and gold! The city scenes, in contrast, are darker and more blended, giving the city the appearance of being cluttered and dirty. The pages have full paragraphs on them and are artistically laid out, rather than aligning in the left margin, adding a unique aesthetic quality to the book.

The book is a wonderful way to demonstrate patience to your little one. The house has no choice but to remain where she was built and observes the changes as they occur around her. You can point out to your child that sometimes, like the house, they simply need to accept changes in plans; sometimes the changes will be positive, and other times they are not ideal. Another way to read this book is to focus more on what the pictures can teach. One picture shows many suns in the sky, at each hour, to demonstrate the passage of time. In a similar vein, there is also a lunar calendar depicted on one page, so you can fascinate your child with your knowledge of how the moon reflects the sunlight while rotating so the moon appears to change shape. Or, you can simply point to all the different items on each page and have your little one name them (there are children, horses, flowers, trees, cars, buildings, and more!).

I read this book to my three-year-old friend, Sam, before a nap one afternoon. Sam had so many questions and comments on each page that it took us twenty minutes to read. He was fascinated by all the detail in the country scenes, pointing to each detail as he noticed it. I reinforced this by naming all the objects he pointed to, or sometimes asking, "What is that?" When we were done, I asked Sam if he would rather live in the country or in the city. He thought for a moment and replied, "On Sesame Street."


Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) was the talented author and illustrator of some of the most enduring books ever written for children. The winner of the 1942 Caldecott Medal for The Little House, Burton's books include heroes and happy endings, lively illustrations, and a dash of nostalgia. She lived with her two sons, Aristides and Michael, and her husband George Demetrios, the sculptor, in a section of Gloucester, Massachusetts, called Folly Cove. Here she taught a class in design and from it emerged the Folly Cove designers, a group of internationally known professional artisans. She is the author of many classic children's picture books, including Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.

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