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5 Books to Teach Your Children About Engineering

Mar 7, 2014 3:06:00 PM

5 Books to Teach Your Children About Engineering

The sun shines most days, pools are filled with clear blue water and the crickets chirp as the sun sets into the orange sky, and that means one thing: it’s summer vacation!

Well, it’s summer vacation for kids at least, and instead of heading off to catch a bus to school every morning they watch their parents jet out the door to a place called "work". But as an engineer, it can seem impossible to explain to your kids what you do most days of the week without losing their attention.

The solution? Children’s books. And not just your ordinary children’s books that typically span the genres of talking animals, pretty princesses and a cat with a hat. No, I’m talking about children’s books directly geared toward teaching kids about engineering in a way that will excite them and help them understand engineering in a relatable way.

Here are five you won’t want to miss.



1. Engineering the ABC's: How Engineers Shape Our World (get the book)

By Patty O’Brien Novak


Photo credit: Amazon.com

Price: $8.60

Age recommendation: 4 and up

About the book: This book, written by a mom engineer, asks you to imagine a world without cars, computers, toys, microwaves, movies and television—all things children encounter daily—then to imagine a world without engineers, since without engineers these things wouldn’t exist. The story connects engineering to items that touch our world every day in an entertaining, engaging way.

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Why parents love it: “Last night, I tried to stop at T, but he didn’t want to put the book down, so I told him he could stay up and read it himself. I was impressed with how well the book drew him in. It provoked lots of interesting questions and curiosity in my son, and I'd highly recommend it for boys or girls 5 to 10.”

Why it's not a favorite: “I bought this book for use at a presentation for first grade and I think it was way over their heads. I am an electrical engineer and I wanted a book to explain what I do without asking first graders how many volts a computer needs or when was the first video game invented. It is probably a great book for about fourth grade.”



2. Engineering Elephants (get the book)

By Emily M. Hunt, Ph.D. & Michelle L. Pantoya, Ph.D.


Photo credit: Amazon.com

Price: $15.29

Age recommendation: 4 to 8

About the book: After learning that there is a lack of books about engineering for children and that research has shown that children should be engaged with engineering concepts at a young age, the authors put this book together with a goal of showing children some exciting things that engineers design and entertaining them through humor and their own creativity.

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Why parents love it: “The authors apply classic techniques involving humor and repetition and surprise to make this a fun and effective book for younger children. My four year old was captivated, and participated readily in the book, answering the questions aloud. My eight year old was also interested, since there's a surprising amount of information tucked into this book. This is a very well done piece of work that will be of great benefit to the next generation of little engineers.”

Why it's not a favorite: “I was expecting a hardback book for $15.99, not a paperback book. I feel $15.99 is too much for a paperback.”



3. Janice VanCleave's Engineering for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun (get the book)

By Janice Van Cleave


Photo credit: Amazon.com

Price: $12.78

Age recommendation: 8 and up

About the book: Instead of teaching children about engineering through a story, this book offers multiple experiments for hands-on learning to introduce kids to all types of engineering. The activities are broken down into purpose, materials, instructions, expected results, and a simple scientific explanation.

Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Why parents love it: “This teaches basic concepts by means of demonstration with household items, so you don't have to go buy a science kit to teach or learn science!”

Why it's not a favorite: None!




4. How Do you Lift a Lion? (get the book)

By Robert E. Wells


Photo credit: Amazon.com

Price: $7.19

Age recommendation: 6 to 11

About the book: This book explores the functions of levers, wheels and pulleys and how they work together to lift a lion, pull a panda and deliver a basket of bananas to a baboon birthday party. Essentially it is teaching how a basic machine works.

Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Why parents love it: “My 4 and 5 year old have enjoyed reading this several times already! It's a good way to introduce simple machines to this age group, and has colorful pictures too! It's fun to think of lifting lions, or moving pandas on a wagon, or getting a bunch of bananas to a baboon party!”

Why it's not a favorite: None!



5. If I Built a Car (get the book)

By Chris Van Dusen


Photo credit: Amazon.com

Price: $6.29

Age recommendation: 3 and up

About the book: Perfect for automotive engineers! Jack walks the reader through designing his ultimate fantasy car—complete with a fireplace, pool and snack bar! Jack also explores safety features much like a real-life engineer. This book is a good way to help a child relate to the process a mommy or daddy design engineer follows to design a real life vehicle.

Amazon rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Why parents love it: “The text rhymes, but it has great thoughts and we had a discussion of what if he built a car. He is 4 and a half, but it was a great tool to open his mind."

Why it's not a favorite: None!


All books can be purchased from amazon.com.

by Rachel Hopkins

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