Children’s Books that Inspire Making

Think of a childhood memory. Do you remember a sewing or cooking class? Do you remember summer camp and the craft you made? How about the time your grandparent taught you how to repair something? For most of us, MAKING is the most memorable part of our childhood.

I agree with Mark Hatch, author of Maker Movement Manifesto who said “Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole.” Maker education brings the essentials of how humans learn back into everyday education.

According to the Department of Labor, more than 65% of today’s students will grow up to take on jobs that do not exist yet. Educators have been tasked with teaching these students the skills they might need to be competitive in this uncertain future. Maker Education is project-based learning in a form of Makerspace that anticipates what students will need and want in the near future. As the maker movement gathers increasing momentum, STEM and STEAM learning has overflowed into school libraries and media centers. Makerspaces provide an outlet, fueling engagement, creativity, and curiosity at the same time.

Being a mom of two boys who love to tinker, I often pair our making activity with a book. It is a great way to keep the conversation going and remind them that failure is an important part of the process of creating. Books with characters who identify problems and find a solution through trial-and-error can be very inspiring for children.

There have been more and more books published that inspire making. Some of my favorite picture books that encourage the maker mindset are The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires published in 2014 and Not a Box by Antoinette Portis published in 2006. The characters in these books are open minded and are complex thinkers. The process of testing leading to failure which leads to understanding is celebrated in these books.

There are also nonfiction picture books about making. For instance, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba published in 2012 and How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and her Amazing Squeeze Machine by Amy Guglielmo published in 2018 are books about real people making real change. And for older readers, I recommend We are Makers : Real Women and Girls Shaping Our World by Amy Richards scheduled for release in September 2019. These books are about real-life makers and illustrate how they solved a problem with their invention.

Educator and author of Invent to Learn, Sylvia Libow Martinez said “When we honor different kinds of learning styles it becomes acceptable to solve problems without fear.” Makerspace is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, and discover new things.


Reading List – More Books that Inspire Making:

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