From Imagination to Creation: 9 Picture Books That Bring Inventors to Life

One of my favorite things about kids of all ages is their incredible ability to use their imaginations and creativity. I mean, that’s the core of STEM learning, right? Sometimes students can feel frustrated and overwhelmed by challenges though. Because of this, it’s important to find ways to keep inspiring them throughout their lives. That’s why adding books on inventors to my classroom library is so important. I think sometimes kiddos feel like famous inventors were magically successful overnight. We, as adults, know this isn’t the case. That’s why I like to teach my students about famous inventors. From Elon Musk and Steve Jobs to Rube Goldberg and Lonnie Johnson, books on inventors are a fun way to expose your students to these fascinating people. And so, here are 9 of my favorite books on inventors you should add to your classroom library today!

These 9 books on inventors will inspire your students to be creative problem solvers just like these incredible heroes.

1. Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet

Balloons over Broadway by Melissa Sweet is a fantastic book to add to your library of books on inventors. This delightful book tells the story of the master puppeteer who invented the very first balloons for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade we are all so familiar with.

Designing giant balloons to float down the streets of New York City was no small task! This book tells the story of immigrant Tony Sarg who has been an inventor since he was a small child. This is a great book any time of year, but it’s especially great just before Thanksgiving break when your students will have the opportunity to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

2. Elon Musk: A Kid’s Book About Inventions by Mary Nihn

Next up on our list of books on inventors is the story of Elon Musk. While his name may be familiar to us adults, for kids, maybe not.

This book tells the story of Elon Musk’s life from his point of view. Beautifully written and illustrated, this book explains how Elon Musk loved video games and books as a kid. That’s something a lot of our kiddos can relate to, right?

This book is great for reading aloud to your younger students or adding to your classroom library for independent reading for your older students. You can even have your older students read this engaging book to younger students during book buddy time.

3. Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

I bet our kiddos never stop to think about who actually invents some of their favorite toys. The Super Soaker is definitely a kid favorite. That’s why this book is a must-add to your classroom library of books on inventors. Your students will be fascinated from the start as they jump into this fun book about NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super Soaker!

Your kiddos will love learning about how Lonnie Johnson grew up wanting to work with rockets, robots, and engineering. One of the coolest facts in this book is that the Super Soaker was actually invented by accident! Lonnie Johnson was actually trying to invent a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners. It’s a great lesson on how failure is not a bad thing!

4. Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy

Another fun invention that almost all of us can remember from our childhood is bubble gum. The book Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy tells the long story of humanity’s love of gum. It didn’t become really interesting until 1928, when bubble gum was invented!

This book explains how a young accountant actually invented bubble gum in his spare time. With lots of failed experiments behind him, this young man didn’t give up and finally invented the beloved bubble gum we know today.

This book is filled with fun illustrations and facts your students will love. Add this fun book to your list of must-have books on inventors for your classroom library today.

5. Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines by Sarah Aronson

As a STEM teacher, Rube Goldberg has to be one of my favorite inventors. You can believe this is one of my favorite books on inventors as well.

Even though his father wanted him to be an engineer, Rube Goldberg couldn’t imagine his life spent doing something so boring. So, he took a job at a newspaper and started creating funny cartoons everyone loved. He also started creating fantastic machines that enchanted everyone who saw them.

Just Like Rube Goldberg tells the story of this incredible inventor who was also an award-winning cartoonist.

With fascinating and creative illustrations and layouts, your students will love reading this book.

6. Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis

This beautifully illustrated picture book is a must-have addition to your list of books on inventors! Can you believe it has been over 130 years since the Ferris Wheel was invented?

This staple of every county and state fair has been an iconic symbol of our lives for generations. And, it looks like it’s going to be sticking around for some time.

In the book Mr. Ferris and His Wheel, Kathryn Gibbs Davis takes us on a journey through time. Your students will be transported to the 1893 World’s Fair, where inventor George Ferris defied gravity and amazed the world with his big wheel for the first time.

7. Steve Jobs: A Kid’s Book About Changing the World by Mary Nhin

Another fantastic book by Mary Nhin, Steve Jobs: A Kid’s Book About Changing the World, tells the amazing story of inventor Steve Jobs.

From his early life tinkering with electronics in his garage to creating over 340 patents, he was destined to be one of the greatest inventors ever.

Your students will love reading about how Steve Jobs faced and overcame many obstacles in his life. They will also discover how he made it possible for everyone to have access to a computer in their home.

8. The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow

I bet your students use crayons every single day and never even think about who invented them. I know I didn’t until I found this fantastic book by Natascha Biebow.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons celebrates inventor Edwin Binney.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time that kids couldn’t even color their drawings. But, thanks to the imagination and determination of Edwin Binney, kids can now color their drawings in almost any color they can think of.

The true story of Edwin Binney and his incredible team at Crayola is a must-have for your collection of books on inventors.

9. The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford

Just like a lot of inventions we have come to know and love, the Slinky was actually inspired by an accident. One day while sitting at his desk, Richard James watched a spring fall to the floor. As he watched, the spring took on a life of its own and “went for a walk.” Fascinated by this movement, Richard James went to work imagining a way to turn this silly spring into a fun toy.

With the help of his wife, Betty, Richard was able to use his imagination and creativity to turn this spring into a toy…the Slinky. It quickly became a favorite of kids everywhere and can definitely be named one of the most popular toys in American history.

This is sure to be one of those books on inventors your students will want to read over and over again.

Spark Your Student’s Curiosity With Books on Inventors

These books on inventors are truly inspiring and sure to be instant favorites in your classroom. Before you know it, you will be filling your classroom library with beautifully written and illustrated books featuring these amazing inventors!

You can find all of these and more in my Amazon Storefront. While you are there, check out my other book lists and favorite STEM resources.

Looking for more books for your STEM Lab or Technology classroom? Check out these:

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