Ingenious Inventors and Inventions

“An invention has to make sense in the world it finishes in, not in the world it started.” – Tim O’Reilly

These books are all about the amazing inventions in our world and the inventors who weren’t afraid to dream big and make mistakes along the way. These innovative individuals just wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and they came up with some incredible ideas like chocolate chip cookies, Band-Aids, frozen food, and more! If you want to learn about the brilliant and creative minds behind your favorite invention, check out the list of books below!

To find more books about the amazing ideas people have every day, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “inventions,” “inventors,” or a particular invention or field you want to learn more about. Many nonfiction books about inventions can be found in the 609 call number range.

Barton, Chris.
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. 2016 (Nonfiction: picture book)
Lonnie Johnson has always loved building and playing with ideas, and his most memorable is definitely the Super Soaker. Most people don’t know, however, that he struggled to get a toy company to buy his product or that he invented other amazing things working for NASA. As readers learn about Lonnie’s life, they see someone who never gave up and continues to dream and create new inventions.
[S-Collection Q. S.609.2 B2854wh]

Ford, Gilbert.
How the Cookie Crumbled: The True (and Not-So-True) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie. 2017 (Nonfiction: picture book)
Have you ever thought about when the chocolate chip cookie was first made? This playful picture book tells the story of Ruth Wakefield, a chef who started a restaurant with her husband and invented (Accidentally? On purpose?) the chocolate chip cookie and shared the beloved recipe with the country. With an author’s note, recipe for Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies, and bibliography, this book is sure to be a hit with cookie lovers of all ages – just be sure to be ready to bake some chocolate chip cookies after you read it!
[S-Collection Q. S.641.5092 F7521h]

Gifford, Clive.
50 Things You Should Know About Inventions. 2016 (Nonfiction: chapter book)
A useful overview of important inventions throughout history, this book explores the past while leaving room to see where inventions can take us next. There are plenty of illustrations and fun facts to keep readers interested and craving more information. Kids will be amazed to think about how someone had to invent the ordinary things we take for granted and will be excited to dream up the next great invention.
[S-Collection S.609 G3663i]

Glass, Andrew.
Flying Cars: The True Story. 2015 (Nonfiction: chapter book)
Ever since airplanes and cars were invented, people have been dreaming of the combination. This book shares the stories of those inventors and the amazing things they have been able to create throughout the years. With historical pictures and plans sprinkled throughout, readers will eagerly turn the pages to find out if their dreams come true.
[S-Collection S.629.04 G4632f]

Grandin, Temple.
Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor. 2018 (Nonfiction: chapter book)
Temple Grandin, a successful scientist and inventor, takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of inventions and the process inventors go through when thinking through problems. She not only illustrates different ways to look at the world, but she passionately shares with the readers the importance of using their imagination and developing their curiosity. With pictures, diagrams, and projects to try at home, kids won’t want to stop thinking, tinkering, or fiddling with their own inventions.
[S-Collection S.507.8 G764c]

Kurlansky, Mark.
Frozen in Time: Clarence Birdseye’s Outrageous Idea about Frozen Food. 2014 (Nonfiction biography: chapter book)
This accessible chapter book tells the life story of Clarence Birdseye, the man who invented frozen food – a topic every kid can relate to! His fascination with food preservation took him on a journey to create the freezing process for food we still use today. He didn’t stop there, however, also inventing the electric sunlamp, a harpoon gun, and more. As they learn about his life and explore the 8 pages of photos, the bibliography, and the index, readers will be inspired by Birdseye’s curiosity and want to see what they can create.
[SB. B618k]

Mosca, Julia Finley.
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath. 2017 (Nonfiction biography: Picture book)
In this rhyming retelling of Dr. Patricia Bath’s life, kids will learn about more than just her amazing achievements in the field of optometry. The story follows a bright, inquisitive girl as she overcomes obstacles like racism, sexism, and doubt to see her dreams through – and help others see! Fun facts, quotes from Dr. Bath, a timeline of her life, a more detailed biography, and a bibliography all add to this inspirational learning opportunity that will have kids wondering what they can do to change the world.
[Q. SB. B331m]

Sweet, Melissa.
Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. 2011 (Nonfiction biography: picture book)
Collage and childlike illustrations bring the world of Tony Sarg to life in bright colors. Young readers will love to pore over the images as they read about the man who invented the larger-than-life puppets of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Short text blurbs make this a fast read, but it’s chockfull of information. An author’s note and bibliography is included at the end for those looking for more.
[S-Collection Q. SB. S2451s]

Turner, Tracey.
100 Inventions That Made History: Brilliant Breakthroughs That Shaped our World. 2014 (Nonfiction)
Five sections go through the ingenious inventions that have made our world the place it is today. From the wheel all the way to bionic body parts, readers will traverse the history of inventors who dreamed of making things better or easier. Each page has lots of information and illustrations in an accessible format to pore over, letting inquisitive minds explore to their heart’s content!
[S-Collection Q. S.609 T85o]

Wittenstein, Barry.
The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention. 2018 (Nonfiction: picture book)
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that was definitely the case for Earle Dickson. When his new wife Josephine keeps injuring herself accidentally around the house, he wonders if there is an easier way for her to bandage her own injuries – and the Band-Aid is born! It takes a while for Earle’s invention to be recognized as the genius idea it is, and readers will root for him until the final “the end.”
[S-Collection Q. S.617.13 W784b]