Picture Books About Inventing and Creating
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
One side of each page describes an invention of Franklin's, and the other side shows how that invention is still used today. It's amazing how many things Franklin invented that are still a part of everyday life today!
Lights Out! by Arthur Geisert
A pig who is scared of the dark devises a Rube Goldberg-esque contraption to delay lights out. This book is almost wordless, but it's really fun to look at the pictures and try to understand how the machine works. If you like this book, you should definitely check out the music video for the band OK Go's song "This Too Shall Pass", which has a really cool Rube Goldberg device in it.
Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet
Tony Sarg, the puppeteer who created the giant balloons that fly in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, as a child really did make a device like the pig in Lights Out! As an adult, he used his creative mind to develop many kinds of amazing puppets. This beautifully illustrated book discusses how he created his amazing marionettes.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Beaty's trio of rhyming picture books about an architect, engineer, and scientist is incredibly popular, and rightful so. In this one, Rosie seems quiet, but is actually a great inventor. However, when an invention she makes to impress her great-great aunt doesn't seem to work, she learns a crucial lesson about what defines failure and success.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
The main character of this book has a great idea: she is going to make a magnificent thing! But it doesn't want to work! In addition to telling a story about creativity and invention, this book (like Rosie Revere) has a great message about the importance of perseverance.
The Wondrous Whirligig by Andrew Glass
This fictional story was inspired by the youth of the Wright Brothers. As children, their father bought them a toy propeller - a "whirligig" - and Glass imagines how seeing the toy fly may have motivated the brothers to attempt human flight. What toys in your household might contribute to the next airplane?
Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming
Like Glass' book, Fleming was also inspired by a real inventor; Lodner Phillips, creator of the submarine, spent years tinkering with his underwater boats. This book shows him on a family trip to Lake Michigan, and illustrates how an innocent question from his daughter may have led to his great invention.
The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong
Steve takes his young neighbors dumpster diving to learn how to turn junk into treasure. While I'm not advocating pawing through trash, this book might help inspire seeing things in a new way. Maybe that old lamp really could become a cool table!
Hooray for Inventors! by Marcia Williams
This book contains a bunch of cartoon-style biographies of inventors. There's a whole page devoted to under-the-radar female inventors, which I particularly appreciated. The borders have drawings with extra facts and some silly commentary.
Incredible Inventions by Lee Bennett Hopkins
This is a great collection of poems about creativity, inventions, and inventors, from blue jeans to roller coasters. Do you have a favorite invention? Mine is the zipper! Maybe these books will help you create something even cooler!