As a mother, I am *always* thinking of ways to inspire my daughters. Sometimes I feel like I am doing a great job at it; sometimes I feel defeated. During the less glamorous days, I have found that, good children’s books can help me fill in the gaps while I refuel my energy.
If you are in need of “something” to inspire your children. Or you need a holiday gift suggestion, or you are simply looking for a new book to help you get through the rough parenting days, this blog post is for you.
We are family that loves reading, so naturally books get us through the less glamorous days. Hence, I wanted to share my favorite books with you. That is, engineering books. Why? Because most children love to do hands-on activities. And, engineering books can spark imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills.
Learning About Engineering
Emphasizing the E in STEM is a great way to support what already is innate to children-play. In addition, by attending to engineering education we also address what scientists call hard and soft skills, which are important in today’s society.
Learning about engineering and actually doing engineering are two different practices. However, these should be intertwined and introduced in the early development stages of young children. If you are a parent that hasn’t done that, do not worry you can start at any age. If you want more ideas, here is a blog post on how to do a STEM corner at your house.
There are MANY right ways to do engineering education and support our children’s learning. In fact, I have written about this in the past and have some easy activities families can do at home. You can find an example here. For this blog post, however, I want to focus on the power of engineering books.
I have vetted a significant number of engineering inspired books and selected my current Top 5 for you. This list includes some books that are less known (arguably) and all are best suited for school aged children up to 3rd grade. If you want to read about other book recommendations you can also check out my other book blog posts. Here is a sink and float books recommendation. And here is a biology book recommendation.
Okay, lets get to my current best Engineering Books. Here is the list in no particular order!
Book #1: The Way Things Work
If you are looking for an age appropriate reference book, this purchase will be a great acquisition. The Way Things Work, written by David Macaulay, follows a more traditional writing approach. It contains written text of how and why things work, while providing key pictures, diagrams, and references. These illustrations in my opinion, are beautiful and help children better understand the written text.
The Way Things Work is part of our collection because it includes a significant number of topics. The best part of this book is that it gives me the opportunity to direct my children to a vetted source of information before having to send them to the big ol’ internet.
Finally, I love this book because it clearly intertwines science, math, and engineering. After all, is about putting the E in STEM without loosing the other disciplines.
Book #2: Betty Builds It
If you are looking for a book that will validate your daughter’s identity as an engineer and creator, this is the book for her! Julie Hampton, the author and illustrator, centers the book around a girl that loves to build and isn’t afraid to do so. Betty’s image is cleverly presented as a robot with curly hair, springy legs, claw hands, and a pleated skirt. With this vivacious image that allows most girls to identify with, the story of building, problem solving, and persevering is developed as Betty attempts to create a new friend. The book ends in a whimsical way that brings humanity to the notion of engineering.
Book #3: Rosie Revere Engineer
This book has become a staple in many schools for a good reason. Written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts this story showcases a character (Rosie) who becomes self-conscious about her interests, passion, and actions. In the story, Rosie reaches a point of perhaps, a feeling of shame. The author, however, cleverly further develops the story to overcome this potential shame and Rosie with perseverance and resilience continues to engineer. If you have a child that may get easily discouraged when she makes mistakes, this is the book for her. It might remind your child how beautiful and important mistakes can be.
Book #4: I Wonder
Do you have a child that is *always* asking questions? If so, this is the book for them. Annaka Harris provides in this picture book a simple sequence of a daughter and mother wondering about natural phenomena as they closely interact outdoors. In the story, the child, Eva, wonders about the moon, a butterfly, gravity, and so much more. Harris, the author, does a great job showcasing how one wondering leads to another wondering. Going from a small idea to a big idea.
The illustrations made by John Rowe are also beautiful. They add to the whimsical yet seriousness of the topic by providing vivid images of what a wondering may look like and even feel like. Although the book I Wonder is a book that is simple, I believe it offers children validation on the many questions, some of them profound, they often have and share with adults.
Finally, it is important to mention that this book never mentions the word engineering. In fact, it is not meant to lead in that direction. However, I strongly believe that in order for a child to engineer it must have a great sense of wondering and feel safe and encouraged to do so.
Book #5: Be A Maker
If you are looking for a multi-sensorial book that inspires and can be enjoyed by the whole family this is IT. Written by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic, Be A Maker is written from a narrator perspective while showcasing a non-white girl doing the things the author encourages children to do.
The author starts the book using the phrase, what will you make? Then, proceeds to use rhymes to suggest a series of engineering activities children can do. She suggests to make a tower, make a rhythm, make a telescope and the list goes on. Howes even encourages children to be kind and a productive member of the community. How wonderful is that!
So if you are looking for a book that can serve as guided play for your children, I suggest getting this book. Read one page a day and use the book as an engineering prompt. It may take your family a long time to perhaps finish the book. On the meantime, your children will be doing the E in STEM.
More Engineering Books
Engineering Books for Teens
Of course there is a plethora of books that are great at inspiring children to engineer. Want more titles? These books below are great suggestions for older children.
Engineering Books for Teachers
If you are a teacher looking for resources to help you integrate engineering into your curriculum, I have recommendations for you too. Here are some of my favorite books.
Please let us know what you think about these book suggestions. I love hearing from you!
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