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Children's Nonfiction General

Design It!

The Ordinary Things We Use Every Day and the Not-So-Ordinary Ways They Came to Be

by (author) Rona Arato

Initial publish date
Nov 2010
General, Modern, Inventions
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7


Behind the toaster, the toilet, the tub, the microwave, the camera, and countless other features of our everyday lives are smart ideas from smart people who executed them.

A bright idea of a book, Design It! is a great introduction to lots of satisfying careers from architecture to model making, to the pioneers - thank you, Mr. Cummings for the modern-day toilet! - and to the principles of good design that make life more pleasant. Rona Arato introduces young readers to the world of industrial design by focusing on our homes and by presenting the basics. She asks readers to be the judge: Does it do what it's supposed to (function)? Is it big enough, small enough, or light enough for the person who'll be using it (usability)? Is it safe and comfortable to use (ergonomics)? Does it look great (aesthetics)? And, is it eco-friendly? Equal parts fascinating history and eye-opening facts, Design It! makes for great reading and is a useful resource for those who are beginning to think about careers.

About the author

Rona Arato is a children’s author with a strong interest in human rights. As a writer and editor for over twenty years, she has written on a wide variety of subjects including education, business, travel, fashion and Internet technology. Her work has appeared in mag-azines and newspapers in Canada, the United States, and England. Rona is the author of Fossils, Clues to Ancient Life and World of Water (Crabtree, 2004) and Ice Cream Town (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2007). Her new books include Working for Freedom: The Story of Josiah Henson for Napoleon (Fall 2008), Making a Difference for Maple Tree Press (Fall 2008), and Design It! for Tundra Books (Spring 2009). Rona began writing in the mid 1970s while raising her three children. She has also worked as a public relations consultant for profit and non-profit. She has taught adult Creative Writing for the Toronto District Board and conducted business writing workshops for profit and non-profit organizations in the Toronto area. She has written educational materials for organizations including Mosdos Press in Cleveland, Girl Guides of Canada, and B’nai Brith Canada. From 1994-1998, Rona had the privilege of serving as an interviewer for Survivors of the Shoa, a Steven Spielberg project that recorded the histories of Holocaust survivors. It was this experience that fostered her interest in and desire to write about human rights. Rona discovered Josiah Henson’s story while researching a project on Canadian heroes. She was immediately taken with his strength and courage in the face of seemingly insur-mountable obstacles. His dedication to human rights and freedom spoke to her heart and she hopes that his story will affect others, especially youth, in the same way it has affected her.

Rona Arato's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Design It: The Ordinary Things We Use Every Day and the Not-So-Ordinary Ways They Came to Be

In this original book on industrial design, children are invited to look critically at familiar tools and objects around them. Each chapter deals with a specific area in the home and the inventions found there. We learn what led to each invention, its purpose, its evolution and how it succeeded (“Thumbs Up” or “What’s the Glitch?”). Contributions made by visionaries such as architect Frank Lloyd Wright, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad and designer Raymond Loewy are included, providing intriguing insights. Most compelling is the checklist children are encouraged to utilize in making their own assessments of each invention, using criteria of functionality, usability, aesthetics, safety, ergonomics and eco-friendliness.

This book introduces a wealth of facts in short readable paragraphs. It provides activities such as making flip books or play-dough for model building but more importantly it encourages children to use their critical faculties by assessing the practicality of objects often taken for granted. A summary of career areas within the design field provides clarity for vocation counseling. The only omission is a bibliography that would have added value to this worthwhile introduction to a topic that readers will want to know more about.

The stylized illustrations by Claudia Newell are attractive and the graphics clear. However the layout is sometimes rather antiseptic and the inclusion of photographs would have been welcome.

Award-winning author Rona Arato has written several books with unique themes and this title will also fill a special niche in school and public library collections and for individual readers.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2011. Volume 34 No. 2.

Other titles by Rona Arato