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7 Thought-Provoking Books for Kid Inventors

by Jennifer Garry

Photo credit: xefstock, E+ Collection/Getty Images

“If humans didn’t have knees, houses could only be one floor,” my daughter whispered as she drifted closer and closer to sleep. I couldn’t help but laugh (quietly, of course). Kids have the best imaginations.

Sometimes they come out with ideas that are way out there. But you know what? Some of the coolest and most useful inventions started out as seemingly bizarre ideas. For those of you with kids like mine who are always trying to build new things — from a cozy house for our cat to a Christmas tree for their locker — there are a lot of books out there that are perfect for kid inventors.

These books (for the littlest readers to middle grade readers) drive home some of the most important qualities for inventors: creativity, resilience, and problem-solving. Some will make them sit back and think. Others will make them want to get their hands dirty and experiment. All of them are sure to inspire your little inventor.

  • The Book of Mistakes

    by Corinna Luyken

    To become an inventor, kids have to learn not to be afraid to fail. Creating something new requires problem-solving and creativity, and this picture book shows just how exciting that can be. It starts with one teeny, tiny mistake: an eye that is drawn larger than the other eye. More mistakes happen as the drawing progresses, with quirky improvements coming from each of the fixes. They might not be what the illustrator originally intended, but they make the piece shine. With simple text, it shows the beauty of a work in progress.

  • If You Had a Jetpack

    by Lisl Detlefsen, Illustrated by Linzie Hunter

    This sweet circular story follows an inventive little bunny who gets bored and builds a jetpack. It takes a little work but once he’s done (and has built one for his brother and taught him how to fly), he starts thinking about all of the different things he can do with a jetpack — from giving his principal a ride home to visiting astronauts on a space station to see if they need help fixing anything. A great picture book to read aloud or for an independent reader, kids will love the super silly adventures that are sure to make them think.

  • Lucy and the String

    by Vanessa Roeder

    Another picture book that will get kids thinking like an inventor, Lucy and the String features a little girl who finds herself with a big problem when her curiosity leads her to accidentally unravel the pants of a bear named Hank. Lucy tries again and again to fix the no-pants problem, experimenting with different ways to use the red string to solve it. She keeps at it, making mistakes and improvements until she finds a solution — all important traits for an inventor.

  • Around the World in 80 Ways

    by DK, illustrated by Katy Halford

    Quick, simple explanations of all of the different modes of transportation are brought to life by beautiful, vibrant illustrations. From camels and hang gliders to rickshaws and rockets, this book is sure to get the wheels turning in little heads. Simple enough to be read to preschoolers while thought-provoking enough for older readers, this is a book that will inspire curious minds for years.

  • To the Rescue! Garrett Morgan Underground

    by Monica Kulling, Illustrated by David Parkins

    For lovers of history and biographies, this picture book tells the real-life story of Garrett Morgan. The son of freed slaves, Morgan wanted a better life than working in the Kentucky fields. He headed north when he was just 14 and started out by sweeping floors in a clothing factory. He soon decided to invent a stronger belt for sewing machines. Later, after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, Morgan decided to invent a safety hood for firefighters. Eventually, Morgan’s invention was improved upon and saved thousands of soldiers in the trenches during World War I.

  • This Book Isn’t Safe

    by Colin Furze

    For kids who are a little bit older, this book by multiple Guinness World Record Holder and YouTube star Colin Furze encourages readers to get their hands dirty and build things. With instructions for ten inventions and plenty of inspiration to prove that no idea is too out there to try, this one drives home the importance of thinking outside the box and trying again when things don’t work out right. Fun photos and eye-catching graphics will pull kids in and make them laugh while they learn and bend their brains in new ways.

  • Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects

    by Jack Challoner

    This book lets 8- to 12-year-olds gain a better understanding of science while they work through kid-safe projects that are designed to make young inventors think. With colorful photos, cool graphics, and interesting scientific facts sprinkled throughout, kids will be excited to jump right in — learning, problem-solving, and experimenting as they go.