Saturday, June 11, 2016

24 Books for Preschool Engineers

I recently realized that I have reviewed a handful of books for Preschool Engineering and I have a list of my favorite books at my aStore and our favorite truck books but I don't have a list of great engineering books on the blog yet. Wait no longer.


For us the path to Preschool Engineering began with the wheel and rapidly moved into working trucks like the Front End Loader and Grader. That is why I'm starting with a list of our favorite truck books but I'll limit the list to books about creative work...

Three books by Sally Sutton: ConstructionDemolition, and Roadwork.

There’s lots of noise and excitement involved in building a library! Preschoolers will clamor to take a close look. Award-winning duo Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock are back with another rhythmic read-aloud full of bustling illustrations and sound words that beg kids to join in.

From the huge crane with a swinging ball (crack! ) to the toothy jaws that ram the walls (thwock! ), this rambunctious demolition, reverberating with sound words, is guaranteed to have small kids rapt. Bright spreads showcase the gargantuan machines in all their glory, and a pictorial glossary explains what each one can do.

There are many big machines and busy people involved in building a road, and this riveting board book follows them every step of the way. From clearing a pathway (screek! ) to rolling the tar (squelch! ) to sweeping up at the end (swish! ), Roadwork is sure to delight young truck-lovers with its rambunctious rhymes and noisy fun.

Tip Tip Dig Dig by Maria Garcia.
Emma Garcia's popular debut title, Tip Tip Dig Dig, is now available as a chunky board book with moving parts on every spread, including the cover! Watch as each colourful vehicle does its own job as all the machines work together towards a surprise ending. 

The simple mechanisms in this new board book edition are prefect for little hands. Tip Tip Dig Dig has been shortlisted for the Read it Again! and the Southampton Favourite Book to Share picture book awards in 2008.

Tools &Machines

Next to trucks, tools and other machines have been of particular interest around here. At the top of our list are books by Gail Gibbons:

Tool Book, The Art Box, and Clocks and How They Go.

Basic tools and how they are used to make things.

Describes the many different kinds of tools and supplies which artists use to produce their work.

Describes the weight clock and the spring clock and how they work.

Thinking Outside the Box

A lot of what I see as preschool engineering work involves thinking outside the box, creating something out of nothing, and seeing the world with creative intention. Here are four books about thinking outside the box:

Meeow and the Big Box by Sebastien Braun
Start with an ordinary brown box. Get out the red paint. Add a chair and a mug. Then, watch as Meeow works his magic, transforming everyday objects into an amazing fire truck. What a clever kitty!

Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
A life lesson that all parents want their children to learn: It’s OK to make a mistake. In fact, hooray for mistakes! A mistake is an adventure in creativity, a portal of discovery. A spill doesn’t ruin a drawing—not when it becomes the shape of a goofy animal. And an accidental tear in your paper? Don’t be upset about it when you can turn it into the roaring mouth of an alligator.

Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall
Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let's draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can't be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He's blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. ?She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!? But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.

For the early grades' exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl's frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it's okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn't just ?make? her magnificent thing --- she ?tinkers and hammers and measures,? she ?smoothes and wrenches and fiddles,? she ?twists and tweaks and fastens.? These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.


These three books feature children who wrestle with the life of a creative person. They are persistent, creative thinking, generous people. They solve problems. Rosie, Iggy and Molly Lou serve as role models for the community of preschool engineers.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she's a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal--to fly--Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt's dream come true. But when her contraption doesn't fl y but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose inisists that Rosie's contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials—who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers? When his second-grade teacher declares her dislike of architecture, Iggy faces a challenge. He loves building too much to give it up! With Andrea Beaty’s irresistible rhyming text and David Roberts’s puckish illustrations, this book will charm creative kids everywhere, and amuse their sometimes bewildered parents.

Have Fun Molly Lou Mellon by Patty Lovell and David Catrow
Molly Lou Melon's grandma taught her to be happy with herself no matter what, but  that's not all she learned. Molly Lou heard all about how her grandma didn't have fancy store-bought toys when she was little. She made dolls out of twigs and flowers and created her own fun in her backyard. 

So Molly Lou does just that, proving that the best thing to play with is a huge imagination!

The Sun, the Wind, and the Rain by Lisa Westberg Peters and Ted Rand
While Elizabeth builds a mountain out of wet sand, the geological concept of mountain formation is clearly explained and impressively illustrated. Ages 4-7.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Big Ideas

These books feature the problems that engineers aim to solve.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth's natural beauty. 

The Apple-Pip Princess by Jane Ray
*Starred Review* Ray celebrates the transforming power of growing things in this beautiful, original fairy tale. A once-green kingdom turns into a barren dust bowl after a queen’s death. The king, concerned about his land’s future, challenges his three daughters to “do something to make your mark.” The creator of the best project will rule the kingdom. Two princesses build towering structures, but the youngest, Serenity, plucks a tiny apple seed from a box of nature’s treasures that belonged to her mother. That seed’s sprout inspires more planting, and soon the kingdom becomes a lush paradise, and Serenity is named the new ruler. Ray’s rich language and sure pacing create a winning read-aloud, but it’s the shining collage artwork that really stands out. Mixing color photos into her typically fine, elaborately decorated illustrations, Ray creates dramatic scenes of a kingdom’s renewal while highlighting the close ties among the brown-skinned princesses and the kingdom’s diverse people. Link this celebratory story Claire Nivola’s Planting the Trees of Kenya (2008). Preschool-Grade 2. --Gillian Engberg

Dream Invent Create
  • The first 32 pages refer to the many disciplines of engineering, using colorful and whimsical illustrations and fun, engaging poetry and rhymes.
  • Kids will learn that engineers create rockets, sky scrapers, video games, robots, sports equipment and much more. 
  • They will see that engineering is all around us, and that engineers make the world a better place.
  • Fun facts about each type of engineering discipline wrap around the borders of the pages, providing more information for more advanced readers. 

Interesting Books

The last category of great preschool engineering books are ones that a mechanically interesting in and of themselves: pop-up books and touch-me books.

These two are our favorite books for tiny fingers. "Fish Eyes" features tiny little holes on each page. A young child can stick his or her fingers into the holes, inspecting how the finger tips "appears" on the back side of the page. I highly recommend the board book version of this one!

  Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert
Now toddlers can dive into counting with this board book edition of one of Lois Ehlert’s most popular books. With cutout fish eyes to touch and an energetic fish friend to guide them, they’ll have so much fun they won't even notice they’re learning!

The Poke-A-Dot books feature "Pop-a-tronic" technology. Each circle is a a piece of plastic that makes a snapping sound when it is pushed. (See the video of my daughter poking the dots, below.) My only gripe about these books is that they are sooooooo loved that the pages are torn apart and carried around individually.

Poke-A-Dot by iKids
Once you start popping, there's just no stopping! These fun, tactile books help kids learn to count--without losing count! Raised buttons pop in on every page so kids can press them as they count in this casebound book with ten spreads and 30 poke-able dots. How many animals does Old MacDonald have on his farm? Count them all with this one-of-a-kind """"pop-at-tronic"""" book. This poke-able popping dots book lets kids keep track of how many animals are on each page. It's a great way to learn to count to ten!

Pop-up books are very very mechanically interesting. Opening pages reveals three dimensional artwork. The only trouble with these books? The youngest and touchiest readers will likely destroy them. Consider these books for four and five year old children.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book by Eric Carle
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of the most popular children’s books ever created, this pop-up edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the perfect new platform for the classic caterpillar, who literally pops off the pages of the book—crawling along branches, munching through food, and in one of the most memorable climaxes ever, emerging vibrantly as a three-dimensional beautiful butterfly.
This is a stunning, tour-de-force pop-up that no fan of Mr. Carle’s work will want to miss.

ABC3D by Marion Bataille
"Easily the most innovative alphabet book of the year, if not the decade... Beyond clever."―The Washington Post
Prepare to be amazed. From the lenticular cover that changes with the angle of your hands all the way to the Z, ABC3D is as much a work of art as it is a pop-up book. Each of the 26 three-dimensional letters move and change before your eyes. C turns into D with a snap. M stands at attention. X becomes Y with a flick of the wrist. And then there's U...Boldly conceived and brilliantly executed with a striking black, red, and white palette, this is a book that readers and art lovers of all ages will treasure for years to come.
ABC3D is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Books by Robert Sabuda. We have and enjoy Winter's Tale and The 12 Days of Christmas.

Winter's Tale is Robert Sabuda's most spectacular original pop-up story yet. The simple, elegant text is illustrated with breathtaking artwork and extraordinary paper engineering. Stunning visual effects of foil, glitter, and a twinkling surprise further capture the magic of winter. This is a must-have for everyone's bookshelf.
A true holiday classic literally comes to life in this stunning pop-up edition of a seasonal favorite. With a partridge popping, snow scattering, and lords a-leaping off the page, this lavish book is a gift for readers of all ages. For this special anniversary edition legendary paper engineer Robert Sabuda encloses his own gifts to the reader: extra pages with a pop-up Christmas tree with real lights aglow, and a beautiful pop-up ornament of two turtledoves. The ornament is packaged with the book and is perfect for adding a celebratory touch to your tree. This beautiful anniversary package is one to treasure!

1 comment:

  1. What a great list! I definitely love the Sutton and Lovelock books, Red is fabulous too. Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck and Magnificent Thing all appear on my list of favorite books about Inventors and Engineers (, and Very Hungry Caterpillar and Poke a Dot Old McDonald are on my list of Books Toddlers Love (