The best books for getting dads making and creating with their kids

Scott Bedford Author Of Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff: Projects You Can Build for (and With) Your Kids!
By Scott Bedford

Who am I?

I am an author, illustrator, and award-winning creative director. I have loved to draw and make things since a young age, mostly wacky contraptions (inspired by my love of the Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races cartoons). I’m particularly passionate about making the process of creating fun, the five books below definitely achieve that, each in its own unique way.


I wrote...

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff: Projects You Can Build for (and With) Your Kids!

By Scott Bedford,

Book cover of Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff: Projects You Can Build for (and With) Your Kids!

What is my book about?

The Snail Soup Can Decoy to keep the candy stash safe. The Customizable “Keep Out” Sign to deter meddlesome siblings and parents. A Bunk Bed Communicator made from cardboard tubes (“Psst! Can you keep the snoring down?”). No screens, no hi-tech gadgetry.

Made by Dad combines the rough-edged, handmade ethos of a Boy Scout manual or The Dangerous Book for Boys with a sly sense of humor that kids love. Contraptions and gadgets, things that are surprising―a chair that appears to be balanced on eggshells. Things that are complex―a multilevel city, with buildings, tunnels, and roads, built from old boxes around the legs of a table. And especially things with humor―the Snappy Toast Rack, made to resemble a crocodile’s gaping mouth.

The books I picked & why

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Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share

By Ken Denmead,

Book cover of Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share

Why this book?

I could have picked any of the three Geek Dad books written by Ken Demnead, but I've gone for the first one. It's one of the books that helped establish the Dad 'maker' niche, and without it my book wouldn't have been written. Ken describes the projects as being the "sort of thing you can hack using the stuff lying around your garage", so expect low-fi assemblies and improvised ideas, rather than full-on craft builds that require a trip to the hardware store. The interior of the book includes some illustrations, but mostly it is text, however, for most people this will be no impediment as Geek Dad continues to provide doable and fun projects that Dads can make with their kids.


Lego with Dad: Creatively Awesome Brick Projects for Parents and Kids to Build Together

By Warren Nash,

Book cover of Lego with Dad: Creatively Awesome Brick Projects for Parents and Kids to Build Together

Why this book?

This book gets right to the heart of why I loved Lego as a kid, making stuff using your own imagination, as opposed to assembling Lego from a bespoke kit using an instruction manual. Flick through the book and you’ll see a wide variety of charming and playful builds, all made, unashamedly, from an eclectic mix of colours and brick shapes. The builds vary in complexity, from cute animals to robots with moving parts, end even a cable car that uses Lego motors and gears. In addition to the project how-tos, there are plenty of tips and tricks, all presented in eye-catching colour, like the Lego itself!


Thedadlab: 50 Awesome Science Projects for Parents and Kids

By Sergei Urban,

Book cover of Thedadlab: 50 Awesome Science Projects for Parents and Kids

Why this book?

This book replicates, in print form, the sciencey based projects that can be found on DadLab, Sergei Urban's hugely popular YouTube channel. The projects are varied and fun, most achievable with basic materials, and all with a STEM link (simple concepts like gravity, magnetism, and electricity). It contains a lot of project ideas, so there will be something for everyone, and plenty you can make using the resources you already have in your home. In fact, that's what I like most, the way Sergei shows us that science is at work everywhere and can be harnessed in simple and imaginative ways, without an engineering degree or fully equipped workshop.


Dad's Book of Awesome Projects

By Mike Adamick,

Book cover of Dad's Book of Awesome Projects

Why this book?

Mike Adamick's book zeroes in on make-ability, projects that kids can actually make with their Dads. To this end, no project is overly ambitious, also, and this is something I like a lot, each project is photographed and presented as it would look if you were to tackle the project for real with your kids. There's a certain nostalgic charm to many of the projects, which include, rope swings, circus stilts, balance boards, and an ol'-fashioned fruit crate scooter, and while some of the more eye-catching projects involve working with wood, the designs are kept simple, favouring ease of construction over fancy design flourishes. 


Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids

By Todd Davis,

Book cover of Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids

Why this book?

Todd Davis, the author of Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads was a competitive snowboarder and a stuntman, and this is reflected in the choice of some of his projects, like the half-pipe, skate longboard, zip line, and climbing wall. Somewhat similar to Mike Adamick's Dad's Book of Awesome Projects, this book has a much more adventurous feel. I know my boys would have loved the bike jump and who wouldn't love a Jumanji-style rope bridge. The cover doesn't quite do justice to what's inside, which includes plenty of colour photography and nice design touches.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dads, science, and the circus?

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