Picture Book Inventors & Robots

Kids are great at questioning the things they see and coming up with their own unique solutions to problems.  When my older son, Alex, was four, I took him along shopping for some new furniture.  He was fascinated with all the beds and the sofas, and on our way home, he announced that furniture stores should stay open every night…to give the homeless people some place to sleep.

These fun picture books about three inventive kids and a curious robot can be used just for reading or as a springboard to a discussion on problems and solutions.

Awesome DawsonAwesome Dawson by Chris Gall. 9780316213301. 2013. Gr PK-2.

Dawson is an inventor…and a recycler.  All of his inventions are made from discarded items from his home, school, and neighborhood.  Dawson’s problem?  He wants to tinker all the time, but his parents expect him to do his chores! His solution is creating a new invention—the Vacu-Maniac!  But with everything the Vacu-Maniac eats, it gets larger and larger.  It crashes through the walls of his house into his yard and keeps going into town.  How can Dawson stop this thing?  Awesome Dawson is an exciting and funny way to introduce the ecological concepts of recycling and reusing.  Readers can pore over the materials that Dawson uses to create his inventions—and might be inspired to create their own!

How to bicycle to the moonHow to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers by Mordicai Gerstein. 9781596435124. 2013. Gr K-2.

The young narrator thinks it is too bad that the moon is so dreary and lifeless. But what can he do about it?  Quite a bit, in fact, because he is a genius inventor—and he has a great idea.  He just needs a bicycle, a NASA spacesuit, and about 200,000 miles of garden hose.  This guide covers everything from getting there and dealing with the loneliness of space to methods of planting and watering his seeds to handling all the acclaim back on earth.

Randy Riley's Really Big HitRandy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen. 9780763649463. 2012. Gr PK-2.

Randy Riley plays baseball with the other kids, but he always, always strikes out. He’s a genius, but he just can’t seem to hit the ball.  His passion is outer space, and he knows everything about planets and constellations and rocket ships. One day, while peering at the sky through his telescope, he sees a massive fireball and calculates that it is racing toward earth.  What can he do?  No one believes him!  Well, Randy has a solution…but he has only 19 days!  Will his plan save earth?

Doug unpluggedDoug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino. 9780375966439. 2013. Gr K-2.

Doug is a robot, and every day before his parents leave for work, they plug him into the computer so he can learn facts and more facts.  One day, as he learns all about the city, he sees a pigeon on the windowsill.  He just learned that pigeons fly in flocks from the computer—but he didn’t know that they made such a funny sound.  Maybe there were more things he could learn if he went into the city!  So he unplugs—and learns many fascinating things that you can’t learn from a computer.  Such as:  a flock of pigeons scatters when you fly into it, wet cement feels squishy under your feet, garbage cans are smelly, and that friends are fun to play with.

TraceyBlogger : Tracey L.