Picture Books about Inventors and Inventions

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Picture Books about Inventors and Inventions

Looking for picture books and nonfiction about about inventors, inventing and building something out of nothing? 

Famous Fails!: Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps & How a Mess Can Lead to Success by Crispin Boyer
This is a fun book -- full of color, pictures and eye catching graphics -- about the most important part of the invention process: failure. There’s something for every interest in this book, and it’s a great way to start a conversation with your child about what failure means, and how it doesn’t have to be so negative!

Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy
This is a great winter read for children both young and old. It goes through both the invention of earmuffs and Chester Greenwood’s life and legacy. The illustrations are very cute, and the tone is both informative and lighthearted.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh
Who says women can’t be great inventors? Using an eclectic mix of inventions, from liquid paper to kevlar, cookies to computers and more, this book shows children of all ages that women have come up with world changing inventions. Illustrations are bright and in a quirky collage format. Individual biographies are short enough to make for a good read-aloud.

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker by Kathryn Lasky
Full page illustrations tell the story of Madam Walker, who invented beauty products for black women and founded the Mme. C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company. She was so successful that she became one of the country’s first self made female millionaires, and she is one of the most successful African American business owners to this day. This biography is easy to read and separated into sections of time and place, which makes it perfect for reading aloud one section at a time for younger children.

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton
Get creative and beat the summer heat with the story of how the super-soaker was invented. Lonnie Johnson, the inventor, is introduced as a creative child who loved to make things, and we follow his journey all the way to working NASA and eventually creating the super-soaker. A highlight of the book is showing how someone can engage in both “serious” and “fun” work at the same time! It also includes some historical facts that would make it a great new addition as a Black History Month read as well.

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully
Learn about Margaret E. Knight, an inventor later dubbed “the Lady Edison.” Learn about her creative and inventive childhood in the 19th century, when her interests were seen as something girls and women shouldn’t be doing. Readers will not just learn about her inventions but her legal struggles in getting patents and paid for their use. There are also beautiful watercolor illustrations throughout.

The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford by Suzanne Slade
Explore the friendship between Thomas Edison (inventor of the electric light bulb, phonograph, and more) and Henry Ford (inventor of the Model T Car). Watercolor illustrations will tell you the story of both inventors and reveal the inventor’s secret. I won’t reveal the secret, but it’s a good one! The book also includes a large reference section with timelines, biographies and photographs.

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch
You probably know about Thomas Edison’s work with electricity, but do you know Nikola Tesla? This book will introduce you to one of Edison’s rivals and someone who made just as many important discoveries with electricity. Watch as Tesla puts his reputation on the line with projects including the World’s Fair and Niagara Falls. Painterly illustrations and an extensive scientific reference section are also a plus.

George Ferris, What a Wheel! by Barbara Lowell
When George Ferris built the Ferris wheel, everyone thought it couldn’t be done. This book tells you the story of how he ignored the naysayers and made the most noticeable World’s Fair attraction. Including both photographs and illustrations as well as pages full of ferris wheel fast facts at the end, this book will have something for everybody.


Sign Language Man: Thomas H. Gallaudet and His Incredible Work by Edwin Brit Wyckoff
With Gallaudet University being in our city of Washington, D.C., this book, which gives a lot of information about Thomas H. Gallaudet's life and work inventing and developing American Sign Language (ASL), is especially relevant.The book provides information and social/historical context about the Deaf community in an age appropriate and inclusive way.There are some pictures and explanations of signs, but this book is definitely a biography and not an ASL dictionary. Several resources including a timeline, vocabulary list, and further reading are available at the end of the book.

Want more? Check out a previous similarly-themed list here