Want to find picture books that inspire engineering, tinkering, and invention in kids? Read one or all of these engaging engineering and invention themed books.
You’ll love how they show the STEM concepts in such a positive light. And, I bet they’ll put some new ideas in your child’s mind. Ideas like inventing their own wonderful something…
Standout STEM Engineering and Invention Picture Books
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe by Katey Howes, illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti
Calling all inventors and engineers! You’ll love this charming story about a creative young inventor, illustrated with bright colors and exuberant cartoon-like illustrations. Magnolia Mudd’s Uncle Jamie is the coolest. When he tells Magnolia that he and Miss Emily are getting married, he says that Magnolia can invent something with “Mudd Power” for the wedding. She decides to make the biggest, best flower bouquet launcher ever! Only she might have added too much Mudd Power in this invention…
Mary Had a Little Lab by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Petros Bouloubasis
Mary’s nursery rhyme gets an engineering STEM-themed update! This inventor Mary cleverly builds a machine that makes a wooly sheep pet. When her machine gets stuck on, she makes way too many sheep. Good thing she’s an inventor and can fix it! Very clever rhyming; there’s a lot to love about this smart engineer Mary.
Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Rosie is an exuberant inventor who uses things around her to invent wonderful contraptions — like the flying machine she makes for her great-great-aunt Rose. When it doesn’t fly, Rosie thinks she’s failed. But her wise Aunt Rose shows Rosie that failure is a success — and that failure only happens if you quit.
Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Bold Engineers 40+ Things to Invent, Draw, and Make by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
This is an excellent, engaging activity book based on the fantastic STEM Rosie Revere, Engineer picture book. Colorful illustrations and a cool layout will entice readers to try, fail, and learn in this new STEM activity book for budding engineers like Rosie. Learn about simple machines, build a marble run, solve engineering challenges, design a stuffed animal carrier for your bike, learn about inventors who failed a lot, and so much more.
Rube Goldberg’s Simple Normal Humdrum School Day by Jennifer George, illustrated by Ed Steckley
Kids will pour over the pages in this book to read and see how Rube uses simple machines in a series of wacky and inventive steps to accomplish basic tasks — which ironically Rube calls simple. 😃 From waking up in the morning to going to bed and lots of tasks in between (painting a picture, catching the school bus, avoiding baby brother’s flying food), kids and adults alike will be fascinated (and entertained) by Rube’s complicated contraptions to do simple things. A wildly imaginative book perfect for budding engineers.
Gus’s Garage by Leo Timmers
Do you like to tinker?! Gus does. Gus’s friends visit him with their various problems for him to solve with inventions. Rico needs a bigger seat on his scooter, Gina needs a warmer neck in her car (she’s a giraffe), Miss P. needs refrigeration, and so on. Watch how Gus uses the materials in his full garage to build inventions for his friends. Gorgeous illustrations & inspiring inventions.
Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
This kid-favorite picture book shares the inspiring story of Iggy, a creative thinker. Unfortunately, Iggy’s teacher does like Iggy’s love of architecture. But when the class gets into trouble, it’s Iggy’s architectural thinking that saves the day.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Ashley wants to make the most magnificent thing. But like sometimes happens, her thing doesn’t turn out like she wants. So she gets mad and gives up. After a short walk, she starts to feel better. And when she goes back to her thing, she sees it with new eyes and makes a magnificent thing after all. A great life lesson! What do you do when faced with challenges?
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
One day a child has an idea. This special idea is personified as a golden egg which I love. It’s a cool way to treat an idea — as a physical thing. The child feels better with his idea, he cares for his idea, and he realizes his idea can change the world. A perfect picture book for budding inventors.
If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen
Sitting in the back of his father’s car, a little boy knows he will create something better — a spectacular car with quiet jet engines, retractable wings, a snack bar, and a pool, . . . his car will be able to drive underwater. Even if you’re not a big fan of the rhyming text, inventors and dreamers will enjoy the boy’s creative ideas shown in colorful illustrations.
Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Boris Kulikov
Inspired by his daughter’s question of what it would be like to be a fish, inventor Papa decides to invent a mechanical fish — a submarine. The picture book engineering story shows that most of Papa’s inventions don’t work properly but he still persists. (Growth mindset!) Based on the inventor Lodner Phillips.
How Does My Home Work? by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti
Inviting illustrations and clear wording make this book essential reading for kids to learn about the conveniences we take for granted like light switches, remote controls, water faucets, and so on. The book explains concepts like water treatment plants, how it gets cleaned in a process that goes out to rivers and seas or farmers. The book ends with ways kids can save energy. Love it.
The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Remember the story of The Little Red Hen? The Little Red Fort is the same set-up but with a female engineer. And it’s SO awesome — both the clever story and the fantastic illustrations!! Ruby asks her brothers to help her build something. They dismiss her idea. She isn’t daunted– she learns and does it herself. She invites them to help with all the steps in the process — making plans, gathering supplies, cutting the boards, hammering the nails — but they always decline. The illustrations show the boys playing outside, playing in the pool, and playing on screens. Predictably, when Ruby is all done, the boys want to play in her fort but she says no. To apologize, the boys contribute to the fort — flowers, paint, and a mailbox — then they all have a fort-warming party.
The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow, illustrated by Steven Salerno
This might be a new favorite inventor biography picture book because it’s skillfully written, perfect for young readers, about a topic that we all love — crayons. Edwin Binney, a curious inventor, always listened to what people needed in their lives. First, he created a slate pencil for children in the classroom then next, a better, non-crumble chalk for teachers. When many people, including his own wife, asked for better, cheaper colored crayons, Edwin and his team experimented with rocks, minerals, pigments, and clays and found the perfect mixtures for a longer-lasting crayon. People loved them!
The House That Cleaned Itself: The True Story of Frances Gabe’s (Mostly) Marvelous Invention by Laura Deashewitz and Susan Romberg, illustrated by Meghann Rader
An awe-inspiring biography with excellent writing! Frances’s jaw-dropping inventions for cleaning her house are quite inventive. She’s a really smart problem-solver and a person you’d want to meet. When she gets fed up with her “job” doing all the housework, she creates a house with rooms that clean themselves. Imagine an automatic carwash INSIDE with air jets and a slanted floor. Although her ideas didn’t catch on, maybe one day another inventor will build on Frances’s ideas. Lovely pastel illustrations!
Boxitects by Kim Smith
Most kids can relate to the feelings of jealousy. Meg feels competitive and slightly jealous when a new girl arrives at the Maker School and is a cardboard box builder just like Meg. In this engineering-themed story, Meg and her nemesis, Simone, work separately to outdo the other in the Maker Match. Their plans fail. With only minutes to spare in the competition, they salvage parts, collaborate, and find that they’re more brilliant and creative when working together. Boxitect ideas in the back! Diverse, vibrantly colored artwork with movement and pizazz.
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