Children's Books and Technology

By Linnell, Charles C. | Technology and Children, December 2004 | Go to article overview
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Children's Books and Technology

Linnell, Charles C., Technology and Children

Reading is a wonderful way for children to see how technology can be used help them do things better and have fun. This article will provide a election of fiction and non-fiction children's books that demonstrate and explain different processes and systems of technology.

These books are good for language arts activities in all elementary grade levels, but some of them are especially good for younger children because the illustrations are so colorful and interesting. Some, such as David Macaulay's The Way Things Work, even have a really good compact disk (CD) included to enhance the student's experience. When children are being read to, the teacher can prompt them by asking them how the different technologies that they are reading about relate to their own lives. Fiction books that are based on technological concepts provide imaginative ways that children can relate technology to their lives by incorporating fantasy or imagined situations with real technology.

Non-fiction books can help children see technological connections with people, science, history, and technology. The following are selected fiction and nonfiction children's books that let elementary students see how different technological systems, such as manufacturing, construction, space exploration, farming, and many other types of tools and machines, can be explained in an imaginative and thought-provoking way. The books are all well illustrated and well photographed to appeal to children. The book descriptions that are provided are very brief but give the elementary teacher an idea of the technological gist of the book as well as the grade-appropriate reading/activity level to help them decide if they would want to include it in their teaching.

Some of these books can be used to enhance different elementary subjects, from language arts to mathematics to science to social studies. Others can be used for children to conduct Research and Development by researching and reporting on a specific technology. The books will allow children to see how technology has been, and will be, an important part of their lives.


Marty McGee's Space Lab, No Girls Allowed. (1981). Martha Alexander. (Pre K-2). The author/illustrator takes a very young gift, who is still in diapers, on an unusual space flight and ultimately shows that high-technology inventions know no discrimination and can use the input of both girls and boys. This can provide a beginning of gender-awareness.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. (1939). Virginia Burton. (Pre K-5). This classic story shows how design and innovation can be used to solve problems. It shows a practical solution to a problem as well as a very endearing use of technology that students will enjoy. All elementary school libraries should include this book.

Machines at Work. (1987). Byron Barton. (Pre K-1). A group of multi-racial construction workers, both male and female, come to work at a construction site in this story. They use all manner of hand tools and construction machinery to show how construction is a process. From bulldozers to shovels, picks, and rakes, young children see what construction people use to do their work. It is important for them to see different people and different genders doing different jobs and having multiple responsibilities.

George Mouse Learns to Fly. (1985). Heather Buchanan. (0-6). The mouse designs a flying machine using rubber bands, and the story also includes the basic principles of flight. The activity can be transferred to the classroom by having children build their own rubber-band planes and fly them outside. Many topics, such as design, flight, lift, stored energy, dynamic energy, and history of flight, can be introduced.

Milk. (1985). Donald Carrick. (Pre K-1). In this story the preschooler will learn how milk is processed. The technology of a modern dairy farm is explained very clearly for young students.

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