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21st Century Kids: Inventors & Innovators

Mona Gilbert, Children's Librarian, Northridge Branch Library,
Young girl building an electronic device
“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”—Thomas Alva Edison

What sparks inventors to create? One can say the ability for inventive thinking is not out of reach. Innovation flourishes when an individual possesses strong problem-solving skills, an active imagination, and has the ability to see possibilities. Additionally, success requires a great deal of patience, as trial and error are part of the process. Here is a sampling of books that encourage inventive and innovative thinking.


I’ve done it, I’ve done it!
Guess what I’ve done!
Invented a light that plugs into the sun.
The sun is bright enough,
The bulb is strong enough,
But, oh, there’s only one thing wrong…
The cord ain’t long enough.

"Invention" excerpted from the book Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein.

Books That Encourage Inventive and Innovative Thinking

Where The Sidewalk Ends
Silverstein, Shel

Hedy Lamarr's Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor
Wallmark, Laurie

Calling All Minds
Grandin, Temple

What Color is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women
Thimmesh, Catherine

Mistakes That Worked
Jones, Charlotte Foltz

The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation
Ford, Gilbert

Barton, Chris

I Can Be An Awesome Inventor
Claybourne, Anna

50 Wacky Inventions Throughout History
Rhatigan, Joe

A Super Sticky Mistake
Donald, Alison