Books on Making, Tinkering and Creating

Home » Books on Making, Tinkering and Creating

Books on Making, Tinkering and Creating

The idea of making, tinkering, engineering and creating is not a new one – in fact it is as old as time itself. Most individuals and communities have an innate desire to tinker and invent and better the way things in their environments function. Many young people are natural tinkerers and creators – first with blocks and paddlepop sticks, later with home electrics that you didn’t want taken apart.

Books Which Encourage Tinkering

However, as society has turned more and more to technology to find solutions and to improve the quality of our lives and our experiences, less time is spent questioning, inquiring and fixing and even less time is spent making mistakes and refining skills through trying, failing and trying again. Skills of tinkering and engineering are being lost, particularly in our younger people…and herein lies the idea of  something called the ‘Makerspace Movement’ which started in US libraries and is sweeping across the world – spaces to invent, share skills, put heads together to question and inquire, make mistakes, fix, re-invent, make more mistakes, create, explore and wonder.

Makerspaces are the perfect partnership for libraries – where information is stored, accessed, shared, explored and wondered over. Libraries are places where people gather, they are community and school hubs with staff who are experts in finding and sharing information. For texts which further explain the makerspace concept for teachers and parents see here. 

There are so many books which inspire children to tinker and help children to understand that mistake making is part of the process of creating and my favourites are listed below. Last night I had the privilege of talking with David Curnow on 612ABC Brisbane about the best tinkering and creating books. You can listen to the my 612 interview with David Curnow here.


Click on the title or cover image of each book to add to your home, school or library collection.

‘Beautiful Oops’


This one is a stand out title for early childhood age children, and in fact I think every parent should read this book too! We have such a tendency to provide our children with an eraser and tell them to rub out their mistakes, to fix them up, I know I am guilty of this! However, equally as important as fixing up mistakes is learning to live with mistakes, learn from mistakes and innovate upon our mistakes to make something even better and this book just illustrates this perfectly. Torn pages become a crocodile’s mouth, accidental blobs of paint become little pigs and coffee cup stains become frog ponds. This book encourages children to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and in the ‘mistakes’.

You Tube clip of the book is here.

‘Make Art Mistakes’


With eye-catching interiors and playful activities, this open-ended sketchbook encourages would-be artists of all ages to look at the world around them and take chances expressing what they see. Inspiring and colorful graphic design will unleash the artist in anyone.

‘MOMA Art While You Eat’


These colourful, graphic place mats encourage would-be artists to look at the world around them and take chances expressing what they see. Filled with open-ended activities, including activities that introduce children to principles of line, shape, colour and form, these place mats will entertain children whether at home or while eating out!

‘Engibear’s Dream’ and ‘Engibear’s Bridge’


My full review (well actually Cathy did this review!) of this title is here. Andrew King uses his background in chemical and environmental engineering to at once educate and entertain.  You can read more about Andrew King in this ‘Book People’ post. illustrations by Benjamin Johnston contain detailed plans of Engibear’s project. Diagrams of Bearbot’s suspension and internal combustion engine provide great incidental learning for the young engineer and are a useful cheat sheet if their parents need some *ahem* help explaining the concepts.

‘Rosie Revere Engineer’


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. Her invention complete, Rosie attempts a test flight–but after a moment, the machine crashes to the ground. Discouraged, Rosie deems the invention a failure, but Aunt Rose insists that on the contrary, it was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit (love this quote from the book!).

‘Young Frank Architect’


Young Frank is an architect. He lives with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect and his spotted dog, Eddie. Using anything he can get his hands on; macaroni, pillows, toilet paper, shoes Young Frank likes to build buildings that twist, chairs with zig zag legs and even entire cities. But Old Frank disapproves, saying architects only build buildings. One day they go to visit The Museum of Modern Art in New York City…

‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’ and ‘The Pocket Dangerous Book for Boys’


These bestselling books for every boy from eight to eighty, covering essential boyhood skills such as building tree houses*, learning how to fish, finding true north, and even answering the age old question of what the big deal with girls is. In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage.

‘The Daring Book for Girls’ and ‘The Pocket Daring Book for Girls’


‘The Daring Book for Girls’ is the manual for everything that girls need to know-and that doesn’t mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it’s female heroes in history, secret note-passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it’s not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers-although that’s included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly-girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl’s invitation to adventure.




Scratch is the wildly popular educational programming language used by millions of first-time learners in classrooms and homes worldwide. By dragging together colorful blocks of code, kids can learn computer programming concepts and make cool games and animations. Kids learn programming fundamentals as they make their very own playable video games. They’ll create projects inspired by classic arcade games that can be programmed (and played!) in an afternoon. Patient, step-by-step explanations of the code and fun programming challenges will have kids creating their own games in no time. These full-color comic books makes programming concepts like variables, flow control, and subroutines effortless to absorb. Perfect books for the budding programmer.

‘Let’s Make Some Great Art’


The book is packed with stimulating ideas to spark your creative imagination. You can complete the Mona Lisa’s smile, or design your own Jackson Pollock, inspired work with a marble, a tray, some paint and paper. There are step-by-step instructions for how to draw a bird and give it an expression, as well as a foolproof method for drawing a bicycle. For artists of all ages.



This is a highly original graphic cookbook containing 50 quick, simple and classic Italian recipes from the Silver Spoon kitchen.  Every recipe is illustrated, step by step, in comic book style, taking cooks young and old, new and experienced, on a playful culinary adventure. Simple appetizers like Sweet and Sour Caponata and Tomato Bruschetta, classic main courses such as Linguine with Pesto and Chicken Cacciatore and tempting desserts like Raspberry Semifreddo and Tiramisu, are achievable for everyone and perfect for sharing with family and friends.

‘Unbored’ and ‘Unbored Games’


These very hefty tomes are books which I’ve used as both teacher text and a student springboard – lots of fabulous ideas for activities for the modern child. ‘Unbored’ has in fact been mostly been at my house, as my husband has been reading it! These books are large and packed full of hands-on activities that are the best of the old as well as the best of the new: classic science experiments, crafts and upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, skateboard repair, yarn bombing, stop-action movie-making—plus tons of sidebars and extras, including trivia, best-of lists, and Q&As with leading thinkers whose culture-changing ideas are made accessible to kids for the first time. Just as kids begin to disappear into their screens, here is a book that encourages them to use those tech skills to be creative, try new things, and change the world. And it encourages parents and teachers to participate. Really love these!

If you’re looking to add to your ‘making’ (as in crafting) shelves in your home or school library as part of encouraging low tech making and tinkering, I highly recommend the following titles and have full reviews of them all….click on each heading to read my full review.

‘How to Make Small Things with Violet Mackerel’

‘Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon’

Simple sewing titles on our library shelves

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

Post in , ,

You might also like:

About Me





  1. edenland on Mar 18, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I LOVE THIS. And loved listening to your excited yet dulcet tones xxx

    • Megan Daley on Mar 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Ahhh you make me laugh Miss EdenLand. Dulcet…not a word I’ve had used in relation to my voice EVER.

Leave a Comment