Today’s list is about inventions throughout recent history of things that matter to kids, from the crayon to the ferris wheel. Also, a sketchbook for your own inventor. What better way to inspire and model creativity and imagination than a book?
1. The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring
With magnificent dioramic illustrations, Gilbert Ford captures the joy, creativity, and determination behind the invention of an iconic, one-of-a-kind toy: the Slinky!
One day, a spring fell from the desk of Richard James, an engineer and a dreamer. Its coils took a walk…and so did Richard’s imagination. He knew right away that he had stumbled onto something marvelous.
With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard took this ordinary spring and turned it into a plaything. But it wasn’t just any old trinket—it was a Slinky, and it would become one of the most popular toys in American history.
2. Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum
Gum. It’s been around for centuries—from the ancient Greeks to the American Indians, everyone’s chewed it. But the best kind of gum—bubble gum!—wasn’t invented until 1928, when an enterprising young accountant at Fleer Gum and Candy used his spare time to experiment with different recipes. Bubble-blowing kids everywhere will be delighted with Megan McCarthy’s entertaining pictures and engaging fun facts as they learn the history behind the pink perfection of Dubble Bubble.
3. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel
Capturing an engineer’s creative vision and mind for detail, this fully illustrated picture book biography sheds light on how the American inventor George Ferris defied gravity and seemingly impossible odds to invent the world’s most iconic amusement park attraction, the Ferris wheel. A fun, fact-filled text by Kathryn Gibbs Davis combines with Gilbert Ford’s dazzling full-color illustrations to transport readers to the 1893 World’s Fair, where George Ferris and his big, wonderful wheel lifted passengers to the skies for the first time.
4. The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
Here’s the true story of an inventor who so loved nature’s vibrant colors that he found a way to bring the outside world to children – in a bright green box for only a nickel! With experimentation, and a special knack for listening, Edwin Binney and his dynamic team at Crayola created one of the world’s most enduring, best-loved childhood toys – empowering children to dream in COLOR!
5. Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
6. Be A Maker
How many things can you make in a day? A tower, a friend, a change? Rhyme, repetition, and a few seemingly straightforward questions engage young readers in a discussion about the many things we make—and the ways we can make a difference in the world. This simple, layered story celebrates creativity through beautiful rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations with a timely message.
7. Mistakes That Worked
Popsicles, potato chips, Silly Putty, Velcro, and many other familiar things have fascinating stories behind them. In fact, dozens of products and everyday items had surprisingly haphazard beginnings. Mistakes That Worked offers forty of these unusual tales, along with hilarious cartoons and weird and amazing facts. Readers will be surprised and inspired!
8. My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook: 50 Awesome Drawing Activities for Young Inventors
Do you have some crazy inventions up your sleeve?! This book is jam-packed with Andrew Rae’s amazing drawings showing all sorts of real inventions that seem too weird to work. How about a dog umbrella? A submarine that looks like a plane… or even a shark. A swimming machine where you don’t get wet? A car wash for people? Someone has even made a device to charge your phone using a hamster! There is plenty of inspiration to get kids’ minds going, and plenty of room to add their own crazy inventions to the mix. They can design the best dune buggy ever, create a brand new sweet to share with the world, or even draw their very own Transformer dinosaur! Includes a patent certificate for their very own crazy invention!