Many schools these days are focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Robotics combines these areas in a topic that fascinates children, one that appeals to both imagination and practicality. Getting involved in a hands-on way can be a bridge to a lifelong involvement with STEM subjects. My two younger sisters both participated on our high school’s robotics team, and now one is a mechanical engineer and the other is majoring in accounting. And sure, that’s a sample size of two, but a 2011 study in School Science And Mathematics found that “students who participated in a robotic competition had a more positive attitude toward science and science-related areas in four of the seven categories examined: social implications of science, normality of scientists, attitude toward scientific inquiry, and adoption of scientific attitudes” (Welch*). Most states have robotics teams for kids of various ages — one of the bigger organizations is FIRST.
Another way to get kids engaged on multiple levels is to introduce a topic across curricula. In that spirit, here is a roundup of some of the robot-themed books in the S-Collection. You’ll find evil robots and friendly robots; robots who simplify our lives and complicate it. Some of the books look toward robots in the past, some to innovations yet to be realized. All can serve as inspiration for technology the kids of today might invent tomorrow — or maybe after lunch.
*Welch, A., & Huffman, D. (2011). The Effect of Robotics Competitions on High School Students’ Attitudes toward Science. School Science And Mathematics, 111(8), 416-424.
To find children’s fiction about robots, search in the catalog for “juvenile fiction” and an additional keyword. To find non-fiction, search for “juvenile literature” and an additional keyword.
In non-fiction, additional books about robots can be found in the Dewey Decimal section 629.8.
DiPucchio, Kelly S.
While newer, fancier robots are quickly purchased, Clink, an old-fashioned robot who can only make toast and music, gathers dust and feels downhearted until a young boy enters the shop looking for something special.
[S-Coll Q. SE. D626cl]
Boy + Bot. 2012.
One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun. But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he’s sick. The usual remedies — applesauce, reading a story — don’t help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep. Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?
[S-Coll SE. D984b]
The iron giant. 2010.
When a towering giant made of iron appears out of nowhere, young Hogarth sees him not as a monster, but a friend. The townspeople are terrified of the giant and devise a plan to bring him down. But Hogarth believes in his friend, and rescues him when no one else will. Together, they teach the people of the village and beyond to conquer their fears, for beneath the giant’s rough armor there beats a mighty heart.
[S-Coll S. H8743ig2010]
Kuszyk, R. Nicholas.
R Robot saves lunch. 2009.
After hurrying to his job at the robot factory, R Robot is given two important assignments — find a missing robot and try to fix the Big Cooker robot so that everyone can have lunch.
[S-Coll Storage Q. SE. K9692r]
The three little aliens and the big bad robot. 2011.
Three aliens set off to find a new planet for themselves but soon Bork and Gork have forgotten all of their mother’s good advice and only Nklxwcyz builds a home safe enough to withstand the Big Bad Robot in this story reminiscent of “The Three Little Pigs.”
[S-Coll Q. SE. M459th]
Zoe and Robot: let’s pretend. 2011.
A young girl tries to teach her robot how to pretend, but how do you use your imagination when you’re a robot? Sias’s vivid cartoons lend wit and warmth to a funny friendship.
[S-Coll S.741.5973 Si112z]
Robot zombie Frankenstein! 2012.
Two robots engage in a game of one-upmanship.
[S-Coll SE. Si5321r]
Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. 2012.
Zita is determined to find her way home to Earth, but her exploits have made her an intergalactic megastar, and as her true self is eclipsed by her public persona, she faces a robot doppelganger, unsure of whom she can trust.
[S-Coll S.741.5973 H286l]
Robot man. 2010.
A boy and his dad build a robot man and their life is great The robot does all their chores. It even makes them ice cream treats. Their robot does everything for them but then, robot man falls off the roof and everything goes wrong.
[S-Coll SE. Or81r]
Robertson, M. P.
Frank has no brother or sister to play with, so he decides to make one. He collects all kinds of junk and recycled materials and sets to work. The result is – Stan, a friendly and helpful robot who soon fits into Frank’s family life. But when Frank’s parents present him with a little sister Stan begins to feel unwanted, and makes plans to leave!
[S-Coll SE. R547f]
Wilson, Daniel H.
A boy and his bot. 2011.
When timid young Code falls down a hole into Mekhos, where everything is made of metal and circuitry, he must obtain the legendary Robonomicon from evil Immortalis in order to save the robots of this subterranean world and return home.
[S-Coll S. W6924b]
Young Adult Fiction
As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.
[S-Coll S. M57572c]
A long, long sleep. 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Rosalinda Fitzroy, heir to the multiplanetary corporation UniCorp, is awakened after sixty years in stasis to find that everyone she knew has died and as she tries to make a new life for herself, learns she is the target of a robot assassin.
[S-Coll S. Sh353l]
Watson, Paul E.
The robot. 2011.
When unpopular freshman Gabe Messner and his best friend Dover crack the code to the forbidden laboratory of Gabe’s father, they unwittingly unleash T.R.I.N.A., a beautiful blonde robot programmed with a mission that the two boys must put to a stop.
[S-Coll S. W3361r]
Future tech: from personal robots to motorized monocycles. 2009.
Explains and illustrates the most current research and technologies that promise to change our lives dramatically in the future, from machines with the ability of independent thought to cars that drive themselves to robots that borrow their nature from nature itself.
[S-Coll S.600 P591f]
Neo Leo: the ageless ideas of Leonardo da Vinci. 2009.
Cleverly shows how Leonardo’s ideas foreshadowed modern inventions. At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, Leonardo da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more.
[S-Coll SB. D1117n]
Cool robots. 2010.
Master LEGO brick designer Kenney is back with original creations of Robotopolis — robots, transformers, and spaceships. Includes select model instructions, insider tips, and landscape designs for LEGO fans.
[S-Coll S.629.892 K395c]
How robots work. 2008.
Have you ever seen a robot perform surgery? Do you know how to program your own toy robot? Where do robots fit into your life? Meet some of the robots that have changed our lives. Find out about the robots of today and tomorrow, what they do and what they might look like in the future. From volcano-exploring robots to robots in outer space, discover the developing world of robotics. Includes up-close character profiles of robots, interesting fact boxes, and a hands-on activity.
[S-Coll Q. S.629.8 H997h]
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign