The New Barn is a children’s book and interactive website that tells the story of a 19th-century barn raising from the perspective of the farmer’s seven-year-old son.
In an age before machines, barns required the collective contributions of an entire community to build. Together friends and neighbors prepared, cut trees, milled wood, and then in the span of a single day, they raised what has become the quintessential sign of agriculture’s presence.
In this story, young Otto wants nothing more than to raise the family’s new barn, but how can a boy help build something that requires the work of more than a hundred people? He is determined to find a way, but what Otto sees as help becomes hinderance. Banished from building the family’s barn, Otto gathers the other children and sets off to build a barn of his own.
The story of The New Barn may be fiction, but the event was real. In 1888, Jacob and Anna Rohr built a barn. Their three children, Otto, Henry, and Isabella were there along with 200 family and friends. Four generations later, the author recreates that moment from his own family history to tell this story.
Walter Tyler is an Emmy-winning journalist, photographer and picture book author. He tells stories that explore the intersection of communal memory and personal history. He spent much of his childhood in a barn.
Twitter & Instagram: @bywaltertyler