Originally published in TEACH Magazine, July/August 2022 Issue
Inventors are often remembered for their milestones and contributions to human evolution, but there’s a lot more to their stories than just finished products. Teaching students about inventors allows the opportunity to instill a deeper message—one that encourages kids to embrace their curiosity and pursue their own creative ideas. Here are some suggested reads about inventors that may spark your students’ interest in all things building, tinkering, and creating. These books share inspiring stories about real-life inventors who were unafraid to dream big and think outside the box. They are also great for STEM/STEAM learning.
Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine
By Beth Anderson
Illustrated by Caroline Hamel
Kids Can Press (May 2022)
Grade Level: K–3
This uplifting picture book biography is about a humble Austrian farmer named Franz Gsellmann who spent 23 years building an apparatus known as the Weltmaschine (World Machine). The book teaches kids valuable lessons in courage and perseverance, while also exploring the concept of mechanical-kinetic sculptures.
Have You Thanked a KidVentor Today?
By Patrice McLaurin
Illustrated by Dian Wang
Khemrah Publishing (June 2019)
Grade Level: K–5
This empowering STEM read encourages youth to tap into their own genius by highlighting some of the least talked about inventors—kids! The book is written in rhyme, and even comes with fun science experiments to promote higher-level thinking.
How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure
By John Rocco
Crown Books for Young Readers (October 2020)
Grade Level: 5–12
This highly acclaimed, prize-winning novel takes an in-depth look at all the remarkable innovations and human ingenuity involved in the 1969 Apollo moon-landing program. Each challenging step in the space race is revealed with striking illustrations and unforgettable human stories.
Innovation Nation: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier, Happier
By David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Tundra Books (May 2021)
Grade Level: 3–7
From Indigenous inventions such as the canoe, igloo, and lifejacket to the latest groundbreaking advances in medicine, education, science, engineering, and the arts, this kid-friendly book explores the whys and hows of 50 brilliant Canadian innovations that have changed the world.
Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature
By Kristen Nordstrom
Illustrated by Paul Boston
Charlesbridge (July 2021)
Grade Level: 2–5
Mimic Makers offers a delightful introduction to the science and art of emulating nature’s best biological ideas designed to solve human problems. The book profiles ten scientists, engineers, and designers who imitate plants and animals to create amazing new technologies.
Super SHEroes of Science: Making Inventions
By Devra Newberger Speregen
Scholastic (May 2022)
Grade Level: 3–5
Female inventors have made remarkable breakthroughs for centuries, but they haven’t always received credit for their work. Here, young readers will learn about various pioneering women who are behind many of the products and technologies used every day, from Kevlar to windshield wipers to the dishwasher, and more.
Superpower? The Wearable-Tech Revolution
By Elaine Kachala
Illustrated by Belle Wuthrich
Orca Book Publishers (October 2022)
Grade Level: 4–7
With wearable technology being all the rage these days, this book will help kids discover not only how electronic wearables can help people survive and thrive, but also the challenges and ethics surrounding this next tech frontier. Throughout the book, students will learn about the engineers and inventors working on these new technologies. They can even start brainstorming their own wearable inventions with the help of the accompanying Superpower activity sheet! Be sure to check out the Discussion Guide as well.
They Changed the World: Edison, Tesla, Bell
By Lewis Helfand
Illustrated by Naresh Kumar
Campfire (June 2014)
Grade Level: 8–12
Edison! Tesla! Bell! These three legendary inventors revolutionized the fields of light, sound, and vision. Their stories are told here in an engaging graphic novel biography that details everything from their successes and failures to their friendships and rivalries with each other.