robot head


For Kids About Kid Inventors:
Brainstorm! The Stories of Twenty American Kid Inventors
by Tom Tucker
FSG/Sunburst, 1998
Non-fiction, ages 10 and up

Features twenty young inventors (from the 1700s to the 1990s) who created such innovations as earmuffs, the Popsicle, water skis, television, and the resealable cereal box.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
by Catherine Thimmesh; illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin, 2000
Non-fiction, ages 8 and up

Features the inspiring history of women and girls and their ingenious innovations (windshield wiper, disposable diaper, school desk, ice-cream maker).

Here's What You Do When You Can't Find Your Shoe: Ingenious Inventions for Pesky Problems
by Andrea Perry
Atheneum, 2003,
Poetry, ages 6-9

“ . . . introduces imaginary inventions to make life easier . . . for kids. The high-energy poems
 . . . will appeal to Prelutsky and Silverstein fans on the lookout for humorous verse.” –Booklist

kids inventing
Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors
by Susan Casey
Wiley, 2005
Non-fiction, ages 10-14

Features a step-by-step guide and case studies of young inventors.

The Kids’ Invention Book
by Arlene Erlbach
Lerner Publications, 2006
Non-fiction, ages 8-12

Features 13 vignettes about modern-day kid inventors.  Also offers steps to creating an invention, info on how to apply for a patent, tips for starting an inventors’ club, and resources for young inventors.

The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories about Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson
Puffin, 1999
Non-fiction, ages 9-12

“Beginning with animal crackers and ending with the zipper, this book alphabetically lists [114] inventions and briefly describes how they came into being. Among the items noted are blue jeans, doughnuts, matches, miniature golf, and Scrabble.” –Booklist

The Kid Who Invented the Trampoline:  More Extraordinary Stories of Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson
Dutton, 2001
Non-fiction, grades 3rd-6th

“Wulffson continues to inform and entertain readers. Fascinating fare guaranteed to grab reluctant readers or wanna-be inventors.” – School Library Journal

101 ways to bug
101 Ways to Bug Your Parents
by Lee Wardlaw
Dial, 1996; Puffin, 2005
Fiction, ages 8-13

When 12-year-old Steve Wyatt’s plans for attending the Invention Convention (with his contraption The Nice Alarm) are dashed due to a family money shortage, he concocts a

clever money-making plan. Features themes dealing with “teacher respect, true friendship, gifted children and even intellectual freedom.” – Booklist

101 ways to bug
101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher
by Lee Wardlaw
Dial, 2004; Puffin 2005
Fiction, ages 8-13

“Steve Wyatt, inventor extraordinaire, [is]back in another fast-paced and humorous adventure. Everyone is counting on Steve to come up with a project idea for the History Faire [and Invention Convention]. What they don't realize, and he is unwilling to share, is that he has inventor's block. When his parents reveal that they are arranging for him to skip eighth grade and move on to high school next year in order to encourage his inventing skills, he can't even admit the truth to them. How can he stop this plan from going forward and keep his secret?”

[Features such issues as the creative process and intellectual property rights]

                                                                                                                – School Library Journal

101 ways bug friends
101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies

by Lee Wardlaw
Dial/Penguin, 2011
Fiction, ages 10-14


For Kids About Inventors & Inventing:

African American Inventors
by Otha Richard Sullivan
Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 1998
Non-fiction, ages 9-12

Chronicles the achievements of 25 innovators, from George Washington Carver to John P. Moon, inventor of floppy disks.

African American Women Scientists and Inventors
By Otha Richard Sullivan
Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2001
Non-fiction, ages 9-12

“Profiles 26 women, beginning with Ellen F. Eglin, who was born in 1849 and invented a clothes-wringer, and concluding with Chavonda J. Jacobs Young, who was born in 1967 and has been a research scientist and professor. The introduction discusses the lack of information on the contributions of African-American women and the historical reasons for it . . . This much-needed book is a fine supplement to units on inventors and inventions, and would be useful in multicultural studies.” – School Library Journal

Eureka! Great Inventions and How They Happened
by Richard Platt
Kingfisher, 2003
Non-fiction, ages 9-12

“Eureka! looks at the instances in which some of the world's greatest inventions were conceived and explains how creative genius has enabled some individuals to look right through a problem and come up with a solution that has eluded rivals.” (from jacket flap)

Evil Inventions (Horrible Science Series)
by Nick Arnold
Scholastic, 2007
Non-fiction, ages 8-12

“A romp through the history of invention and machines covering everything from the bicycle to the atomic bomb. Crammed full of fun features, quizzes and cartoons.” (jacket flap)

I Is for Idea: An Inventions Alphabet
by Marcia Schonberg
Sleeping Bear Press, 2007
Picture Book, ages 4-8

“For every budding scientist who would like to think beyond the smoking volcano, diorama, and colored graphs of the typical school science fair. I is for Idea explores the development of bicycles, zippers, toilets, computers, and many other inventions that we now take for granted in our daily lives.”  (jacket flap)

Imaginative Inventions: The Who, What, Where, When, and Why of Roller Skates, Potato Chips, Marbles, and Pie (and More!)
by Charise Mericle Harper
Poetry, ages 4-8

“Children who are interested in the origins of things will enjoy this whimsical look at how piggy banks, doughnuts, eyeglasses, high-heeled shoes, chewing gum, and more were created.”

                                                                                                       – School Library Journal

1,000 Inventions & Discoveries
by Roger Bridgman
DK Children, 2006
Non-fiction, ages 9-12

“From stone tools to the cotton gin to cloned sheep, [this book] surveys life-changing breakthroughs. Starting in 3,000,000 B.C., each chapter covers a distinct historical period, offering tightly constructed chunks of information alongside more in-depth explanations. A timeline along the bottom of each spread fills in details. Produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Mistakes That Worked
by Charlotte Foltz Jones; illustrated by John Obrien
Doubleday, 1994
Non-fiction, ages 8 and up

Features cartoons that “illustrate the stories behind the invention of such everyday items as Silly Putty, trouser cuffs, popsicles and penicillin.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin 
written & illustrated by Gene Barretta
Henry Holt, 2006
Non-fiction, ages 4-8

“A clever, concise introduction to the contributions of this colorful colonial figure.”

                                                                                    –School Library Journal

Totally Absurd Inventions: America's Goofiest Patents
by Ted VanCleave
Andrews McMeel, 2001
Non-fiction, ages 14 and up

A compendium of “the best of the goofy from the millions of patents granted during the past 70 years. Each of the nearly 100 off-the-wall inventions unearthed for this collection features the detailed patent application illustration and a lively description of the bizarre proposed creation.” Includes the Diaper alarm, the Cranium cooler, and the Pet Toilet. (jacket flap)

Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions
by Don Wulffson; illustrated by Laurie Keller
Henry Holt, 2000
Non-fiction, ages 9-12

“Wulffson shares the stories behind classic and commercial toy inventions such as Legos, Mr. Potato Head, Raggedy Ann, toy soldiers, Twister, checkers, and remote control cars. Readers will discover that some of the most popular creations were the products of experiments gone awry, thus providing a lesson in persistence, surprise outcomes, and creative thinking.” – SLJ

What a Great Idea!:  Inventions that Changed the World
by Stephen M. Tomecek; illustrated by Dan Stuckenschneider

Scholastic, 2003

Non-fiction, ages 9 and up

“Rather than presenting a ‘how it works’ compendium or a series of mini-biographies, Tomecek puts significant inventions and discoveries in a historical context. Dividing the text into five broad time periods, he offers a series of essays on important advances that occurred in each ‘age.’ – School Library Journal

So You Want to Be an Inventor?
By Judith St. George; illustrated by David Small
Philomel, 2002
Non-fiction, ages 4-8

“The creators of the Caldecott Medalist So You Want to Be President? mirror that successful format in this enthusiastic, fact-filled picture-book tribute to predominately American and European inventors.” –

Ten Inventors Who Changed the World
by Clive Gifford
Kingfisher, 2009
Grades 4th-8th

School Library Journal:  "Each section offers a succinct yet thorough biography of the inventors. Striking graphic-novel-style art is a visual aid to draw readers into each setting and era. Life-link boxes connect the inventors to one another...With the appeal of a graphic novel, and clear language, this title will draw in reluctant readers and provide enough information for brief reports."

Inventor McGregor 
by Kathleen T. Pelley
FSG, 2006
Ages 4-8

Booklist:  "In an uproarious picture book, Inventor McGregor is inspired by his happy family in their higgledy-piggledy house to concoct all kinds of wild thingamabobs and thingamajigs. When the establishment recognizes his genius and moves him to a city studio, his inspiration dries up--until he takes his workshop back to his country home. Preschoolers will love the nonsense of the contraptions, beautifully captured in the sound and the rhythm of the storytelling...wild, double-page watercolor spreads celebrate the farcical gadgets the inventor uses..."

Marvelous Mattie:  How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor
by Emily Arnold McCully
FSG, 2006
Ages 4-8

School Library Journal:  "This story of the first woman to receive a U.S. patent makes an excellent introduction to inventors and Womens History Month."

Incredible Inventions
Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Greenwillow, 2009
Grades 1st-4th

Booklist:  "As the title suggests, ingenious inventions are the focus of this lively picture-book poetry collection. Contributed by both well-known and emerging poets, the selections represent a wide range of styles, from reflective haikus to high-energy concrete poems. The subjects, drawn from a young person’s everyday world, add to the poems’ accessibility; Band-Aids, Fig Newtons, blue jeans, Velcro, and jigsaw puzzles are among the creations spotlighted in poems that range in tone...The blend of poetry and technology makes this a natural choice for cross-curricular sharing..."

I am Inventing an Invention (A Charlie and Lola book)
Grosset and Dunlap, 2010
ages 4-8

Charlie and Marv have to create an invention for school. But it's due tomorrow! Lola thinks she is an amazing inventor, and she keeps pestering Charlie and Marv with her ideas. But just as the boys are about to give up, Lola has a brilliant idea that saves the day!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick
Scholastic, 2007
Fiction, ages 9-15
Winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal

"ORPHAN, CLOCK KEEPER, AND THIEF, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery."

The Klutz Book of Inventions
Klutz, 2010
Ages 4-8

"A 200-page catalog of never-before-seen contraptions that are equal parts brilliant, useful, and ridiculous. None of them exist as actual products, but in a better world, a funnier world, they would all be household essentials...[features] a helium filled hide-a-bed (hop out of bed and it hides on the ceiling); a tricycle-lawnmower combo (puts wasted play energy to work); quitter’s convert-a-kit (for turning neglected exercise equipment into comfortable recliners); Training wheels for high heels; Scratch-n-sniff menus; Mood collars for pets...and more."

For Educators:

I Love America’s Inventions
By John Artman and Gary Grimm
Gary Grimm & Associates, 2001
Social Studies Unit for middle grades and up


Buy these books at:

booksense amazon


books links quotes contests tips for kids techers guides