Book review: Cheaper by the Dozen



by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Read from January 27 to February 9, 2013

Rating: 4.6/5 stars

I bet you’ve heard about this or most probably you have seen the movie adaptation of this classic. This is a memoir about the Gilbreths. The father, Frank Gilbreth was a famous efficiency expert, and her wife, Lilian, was a psychologist. Frank believed that he can run his home like a factory and together with her wife, disciplined his twelve children in ways he believed was proper. By that, he meant doing something about the unavoidable delays.


Even when I was just reading the first few chapters, I couldn’t help but smile because of how amusing and likable Daddy Gilbreth was. He was the perfect example of a funny yet strict dad. He made sure that no time was wasted inside his house and that everyone knows how to follow his rules. It’s not like he had made an appearance as a dictator, but I reckon everyone who will be given the chance to read this will see him as someone who only wanted the best for his family.   *SPOILER ALERT*

  1.  With just one loud and long whistle, he can get the attention of everyone; from eldest to the youngest. Sometimes, he just whistles because they wanted to see them running their feet out.
  2. Being the strict taskmaster, he had everything scheduled from his kids’ brushing their teeth, to combing their hair, weighing themselves, etc.
  3. He appointed the older ones to be responsible for the younger ones all the time.
  4. Foolish Carriage – their car who had witnessed all the escapades the Gilbreths had went through. Daddy Gilbreth was a very bad driver.
  5. He believed that the greatest sin, and is considered to be the mortal sin that someone can commit inside their home is to waste TIME.
  6. Once, the children were mistaken as orphans because of the dress their dad made them wear. Because of that, their mom and the twelve of them became very upset that even their father haven’t had the chance to contradict their decision to stop wearing those dusters for good.
  7. There was a family council inside the house. Everything should go through votations.
  8. He bought a Victrolas to be used inside the bathroom while the children are waiting for their respective turns. There were French and German language records and the kids must finish their bath before the record is over.
  9. Everything that should be talked about during meals must be of general interest and for him, it’s about motion studies, or his mental Math tricks.
  10. Who would forget about the tonsils?!? 🙂

Those were just only a few. What I liked so much about this book is that sometimes all the characters seemed so flawless that I wanted to believe that this isn’t a memoir, but a fiction. The problem is, it isn’t. They were a perfect example of a family that has been sharpened through time. Like us, they had gone through struggles and pains as a whole but managed to make it anyway. The parents gave their kids everything they need. Being a so much better parents were just a bonus. And what I also admire about Daddy Gilbreth is that he didn’t treat the younger ones like they’re less efficient than the older ones. Instead, he taught them the same  things he taught the elder ones. Imagine a kid being able to multiply big numbers mentally! Daddy Gilbreth never ran out of words to say to his family and it’s obvious that he respect him so much. Their mom? Being the amazing mom that she was, was always there to support her husband to every decision there was. And just notice how they’re irrevocably in love with each other after all those years. What can I say? I just admire this family, but let’s not forget that we have our own and it’s in our hands how we make every second with them as fun as the Gilbreth’s. So inspiring.

Laugh-out-out loud funny! You won’t reach another chapter without bursting out laughing with all the happenings.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. 🙂

“Really, it was love of children more than anything else that made him want a pack of his own.” – Frank Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen