Have you heard about the latest trend focused on turning the library of the past into a Learning Commons of the future? Basically, the idea is that kids should be building their knowledge not only through reading and student-driven research, but also through collaborating with others, and creating. Sound like fun? You bet!
Whether or not you’ve got a hands-on Makerspace in your library (or homeschool) – you are going to love this curated collection of kids books to inspire future architects and engineers.
And with Christmas almost here, if you’re looking for the perfect gift: to accompany a building toy for a young child, to inspire and motivate a child to tinker and dream, or to encourage a young adult looking into a career in these fields – you’ve found the right place!
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My list begins with books for the youngest dreamers and creators – and ends with fun book gift ideas for teens and older. Each book has a short synopsis, a description of how the book motivates, and recommended reading ages.
Books to Inspire Future Architects & Engineers
When I Build With Blocks by Niki Alling
Synopsis: A colourful storybook with simple text that features pictures of block structures that were actually designed by children. Perfect for the block center. Inspires young children to try new ways of building.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 2 to 6.
Mattland by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert
Synopsis: A fun fictional story of a young boy named Matt who discovers that he can create a whole miniature landscape in the empty muddy lot of his new neighbourhood. Inspires creativity and using common materials in unconventional ways.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 4 to 8.
Roberto, The Insect Architect by Nina Laden
Synopsis: A humorous tale of a quirky termite that wants to build with wood instead of eating it. The pictures are bright, funny, and the illustrations can be used to model artistic collage techniques. This book inspires kids to not be afraid to be different – and to follow their (architectural) dreams.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 4 to 8.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Synopsis: A charming picture book about a young girl who wants to create something unique and special out of junk. The story focuses on problem-solving and perseverance in the face of “mistakes” – and leaves the reader feeling inspired to tinker!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 3 to 7.
Engineering the ABC’s: How Engineers Shape Our World by Patty O’Brien Novak
Synopsis: This fun and colourful engineering-themed ABC book helps young children understand the world around them from the point of view of how things they see in their daily lives are made and work.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 4 and up.
How a House Is Built by Gail Gibbons
Synopsis: A colourful non-fiction book for young children that shows how a house is built from the foundation up. It features language that is easy to understand while including lots of detail. Perfect for curious kids who are interested in construction.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 5 and up, #1 in Amazon’s Children’s Engineering Books category
Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva
Synopsis: This story is about a boy named Frank who likes to design and build strange things like twisted chairs and wiggly buildings. His grandfather – also an architect – disagrees with young Frank’s tastes until together they visit the MoMA and discover some similarly creative works by famous architects. A wonderful blend of fiction and non-fiction – this tale will inspire kids to think outside the box when creating.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 3 to 7.
Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
Synopsis: A hilarious and clever book about a boy who has a flair for designing buildings from a young age (he built his first tower out of diapers and glue!). This one will inspire kids to design their own structures and experiment with different building materials.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 4 to 8, #1 in Amazon’s Children’s Art Biographies category.
Look at That Building: A First Book of Structures by Scot Richie
Synopsis: A fictional tale of a group of children who are determined to learn about how buildings are made so that they can build a doghouse together. Along the way, readers will learn all about foundations, structures and materials.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 4 to 7.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Synopsis: This inspiring and touching fictional story tells the tale of a girl named Rosie who likes to invent. Rosie experiences failure and mistakes, and even has family members who make fun of her inventions. In the end, she learns that you can never truly fail unless you give up!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 5 to 7, #1 best seller in Amazon’s Children’s Planes and Aviation category.
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christie Hale
Synopsis: A gem of a book that pairs pictures of children’s creations (sandbox castles, cardboard box houses, etc.) with real-life architectural wonders. The book reinforces the value in children’s play and how powerful thinking can emerge when creating!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 5 to 10.
The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia
Synopsis: A quirky re-telling of the Three Little Pigs that features the pigs as famous architects – Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. With fascinating details in the illustrations, and a surprise ending, this story is sure to please kids and the adults reading it!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 4 to 8, or for high-school/college students interested in design.
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
Synopsis: A motivating story of a young boy who has an idea which, when nurtured and encouraged, changes the world. The story inspires creativity, confidence in one’s dreams, and the ability to make a difference. A tale for dreamers of all ages!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Animal Architects: Amazing Animals Who Build Their Homes by Julio Antonio Blasco
Synopsis: A unique non-fiction look at some of the amazing and unique homes that animals build. Each featured animal and home has colourful pictures, a diagram showing the unique architecture of their structure, and facts about materials used. A fun blend of biology and architecture for inquisitive kids!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 7 to 11.
Who Built That? Modern Houses: An Introduction to Modern Houses and Their Architects by Didier Cornille
Synopsis: A fun non-fiction tour of 10 of the most important houses by the greatest architects of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Includes brief biographical sketches of the architects which inspire kids to see the innovators behind the designs.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 7 – 12.
Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects (Build It Yourself) by Donna Latham
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 9 to 12.
Synopsis: A non-fiction tour of the world’s tallest buildings, as well as a fun overview of the architects who designed them. Bringing the real people behind the designs to life – this book will inspire every child to want to create too!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 7 to 12.
Tinkering: Kids Learn by Making Stuff (Make) by Curt Gabrielson
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 6+, #1 best seller in Amazon’s Children: How Things Work category.
Make: Paper Inventions: Machines that Move, Drawings that Light Up, and Wearables and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll by Kathy Ceceri
Synopsis: This brand new book looks like an amazing resource of ideas for fun design projects students can make with paper! From paper circuits and origami to self-folding models – kids will love these hands-on projects.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 5+.
The Future Architect’s Handbook by Barbara Beck
Synopsis: A detailed non-fiction handbook that takes the reader through the steps required to plan and draw a house from start to finish. Along the way, students will also learn about design techniques, architectural styles, and mathematical concepts such as drawing to scale. Perfect for students interested in pursuing architecture as a career.
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 9-12.
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Synopsis: An absolutely huge and incredibly illustrated reference book for future mechanics and mechanical engineers. It includes sections on the mechanics of movement, harnessing the elements, working with waves, and electricity and automation. This one will keep the kids reading and learning for years!
Quick Book Stats: Recommended for ages 12 and up, #1 best selling in Amazon’s Teen and Young Adult: How Things Work category.
That’s it for my book list for aspiring architects, engineers and inventors of every kind.
If you are also looking for children’s gifts that help develop creative, problem-solvers – be sure to check out my Creative Toys for Kids Who Like to Build and Design post over at One Time Through.
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And if you’re looking for other Christmas gift ideas, be sure to check out these other amazing gift guides created by fellow kid bloggers. Click on the picture below to find links to 75+other guides.
Wishing you a merry hands-on holiday,