The best children’s picture books about inventors

The Books I Picked & Why

Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented

By Tanya Lee Stone, Steven Salerno

Book cover of Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented

Why this book?

I am fascinated by how everyday objects are invented, and in this book, readers will discover the real story of how the beloved Monopoly board game was created. The story is often misreported with the credit attributed to Charles Darrow, the man who popularized the game and sold it to the Parker Brothers. In fact, the game was invented by Lizzie Magie, who wanted to draw attention to financial inequality. The author challenges readers to decide – who was the real winner? Because, ironically, Magie sold her patent for only $500, while Darrow stood to make millions and appropriated the credit for the invention. But without the changes and improvements to the game made by the two of them, perhaps nobody would get to play Monopoly as we know it today.  


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Snowflake Bentley

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Mary Azarian

Book cover of Snowflake Bentley

Why this book?

This beautiful picture book showcases the life of the man who invented a way to photograph snowflakes and revealed that no two are alike. William Bentley, the boy who loved snow more than anything else in the world, spent hours in the cold studying ice crystals. Even when they constantly melted, he didn’t quit until he managed to photograph them! His images of stunning, intricate, unique snowflakes are a testament to the wonder of nature and perseverance.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford

By Suzanne Slade, Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Book cover of The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford

Why this book?

We’ve all heard of these two inventors, but I hadn’t heard of the time they met. The title immediately intrigues and hooks in readers  – what did Ford and Edison learn from each other? Curiosity was a trait they shared that got them both into heaps of trouble and spurred them on to explore, innovate and create life-changing inventions. But before Henry successfully invented the Ford car, he looked longingly at Edison’s numerous successful inventions. What was the secret of his success? “Keep at it!” – such a simple, empowering tip, one that everyone can find inspiring and encouraging, especially young readers.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature

By Kristen Nordstrom, Paul Boston

Book cover of Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature

Why this book?

Featuring ten inventions inspired by nature, this book explores how scientists, architects, and engineers can find innovative solutions right there, in the world around them. For example, the shape of the kingfisher’s beak helped to design a quieter, speed-busting Japanese train, and the tiny Namibian beetle, a way to collect drinking water in the desert. At a time when people are increasingly disconnected from nature and our planet is endangered, these true stories are a fantastic and humbling reminder of how clever nature really is and what we can gain if we stop to look, listen and innovate. 


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Nacho's Nachos: The Story Behind the World's Favorite Snack

By Sandra Nickel, Oliver Dominguez

Book cover of Nacho's Nachos: The Story Behind the World's Favorite Snack

Why this book?

Who doesn’t like to eat something yummy? But do you ever think about how this food came about? The serendipitous events that led to the creation of a favourite snack – nachos – begin with a Mexican boy, Ignacio Anaya. He loved to eat and cook and was nicknamed . . . Nacho. One day, when asked to create a snack at short notice at a restaurant, Ignacio used whatever he had to hand – corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño peppers. His creation soon became a favourite, and now global, snack – nachos. This delicious true story will inspire young readers to create spontaneously with whatever ingredients are available, and to discover how being inventive in the kitchen, just like this young chef, can be heaps of fun!


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists