Have you ever wondered who invented the BandAid? What about the Slinky? We hear all about big inventions and their inventors, but what about those smaller, everyday items? There are so many stories out there about items that we take for granted, but someone had to come up with the concept first. And who knows, you might be the one to come up with the next big thing! So for this week’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge, I decided to take a look at a few books about inventors and their inventions.
I honestly never really thought about how we got Band-Aids. Actually, I probably think more about how crazy it is that so many children go through a phase where they feel the need to cover their bodies in them. Or was that just my child? Barry Wittenstein took kids’ love of Band-Aids and wrote The Boo-Boos That Changed The World: A True Story about an Accidental Invention (Really!) to introduce us to the process of how and why they came to be. Wittenstein gives us a comical look at why Earle Dickson created the Band-Aid (for his accident prone wife) and how it took some alterations and a whole lot of time for them to become the household name that we now know them as. As the author’s note mentions, “It seems like such a simple idea today, but think about all of the elements that came together perfectly” in order to bring the Band-Aid to life. A great way to show kids that there is a full process to an invention being a success.
*Note – I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blue Slip Media in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Did you play with a slinky when you were a child? I did. We didn’t have stairs at my house, but my grandparents did. The invention of this famous toy is illustrated in Gilbert Ford’s The Marvelous Thing that came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation. Richard James had been trying to invent a device to help keep equipment steady on ships during WWII, but instead wound up creating a toy. That said, even though James and his family thought it was a hit, stores right and left rejected the idea. But when he finally managed to show it to kids, his first 400 sold out in 90 minutes. Sounds like a certain author who was rejected many times before her books became a certain mega-hit.
Most kids know the thrill of soaking someone with a water gun, or being soaked themselves, so reading about the guy who invented them is an enticing subject. But Whoosh! is more than just a story about how super soakers were invented. Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, by Chris Barton, tells of a young boy fascinated with how things worked and who loved to create. It tells of the successes and failures that all inventors deal with. It illustrates how unusual it was for an African-American team to win a major science fair at the University of Alabama in 1968. And then it shows how Lonnie Johnson came up with a great idea that got rejection after rejection until he finally had success. A true story of perseverance and innovation.
I’m aging myself here, but I remember taking photos with a 35mm camera and waiting impatiently to get to the end of the roll of film and then waiting more for it to be developed. My father was the king of our family photo albums and kept all of the negatives in case anyone wanted a reprint. Today, more people take photos with their phones than an actual camera and no one uses film. But we should never take photos for granted and it was George Eastman who brought photography to the masses. In It’s a Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph, Monica Kulling gives a fascinating look at how much photography has changed since it was invented. When Eastman got into photography as a hobby, he had to lug all sorts of equipment with him and one photograph took hours to create. His determination and inventiveness changed the world of photography. I wonder what he would think about today’s trends!
Talk about a creator, Tony Sarg was the man behind the balloon’s in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Melissa Sweet did an amazing job bringing his story to life in Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. I especially like this book because it is more than just about the balloons, but about how Sarg’s mind was always trying to create from an early age – he simply saw things differently. He had a love for the world of puppeteering and marionettes, an art that was sadly dying out. His creativity lives on in the yearly parade that is so different from any other parade.
There are so many wonderful books out there to inspire the next generation of creators. You can also check out my past posts on Inspiring Female Inventors as well as Classic Inventors in honor of Ben Franklin’s birthday. Regardless, these are great examples of brilliant minds.