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Children's Nonfiction Science & Technology

Kid Innovators

True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers

by (author) Robin Stevenson

illustrated by Allison Steinfeld

Quirk Books
Initial publish date
Feb 2021
Science & Technology, General, Inventions
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


Moving, funny, and totally true childhood biographies of Bill Gates, Madam C. J. Walker, Hedy Lamarr, Walt Disney, and 12 other international innovators.

Throughout history people have experimented, invented, and created new ways of doing things. Kid Innovators tells the stories of a diverse group of brilliant thinkers in fields like technology, education, business, science, art, and entertainment, reminding us that every innovator started out as a kid.

  • Florence Nightingale rescued baby mice.
  • Alan Turing was a daydreamer with terrible handwriting.
  • Alvin Ailey felt like a failure at sports.

Featuring kid-friendly text and full-color illustrations, readers will learn about the young lives of people like Grace Hopper, Steve Jobs, Reshma Saujani, Jacques Cousteau, the Wright Brothers, William Kamkwamba, Elon Musk, Jonas Salk, and Maria Montessori.

About the authors

Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including the board book Pride Colors, the picture book Ghost’s Journey: A Refugee Story and the nonfiction books Kid Activists and Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia, where she attends Pride celebrations with her family every year, but always leaves her dog safely at home.


Robin Stevenson's profile page

Allison Steinfeld's profile page

Excerpt: Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers (by (author) Robin Stevenson; illustrated by Allison Steinfeld)


Do you sometimes think differently than the people around you? Do you like to do things your own way? Do you ever dream of inventing something new, or finding a solution for a big problem?
If so, then maybe you will become an innovator! Innovators are trailblazers. They think outside the box, tackle tough challenges, pursue their passions, and chase their dreams—and in the process, they change our world.
Some innovators are inventors: they tinker, experiment, and design new things. Others combine inventions that already exist or use current technology in original ways. Some innovators are entrepreneurs, bringing new products to millions of people around the world. And some transform and revolutionize the fields they work in by challenging old ways of doing things or approaching problems in a different way.
The innovators in this book started out as inquisitive kids. They were full of questions and hungry for knowledge. Grace Hopper was so curious about how alarm clocks worked that she took apart all seven of the ones in her home. Most of these innovators read voraciously as children: Elon Musk and Bill Gates both read encyclopedias from A to Z!
Many of the things we take for granted in our daily lives exist because of innovators. But people don’t always welcome change, and innovation is often met with skepticism and even scorn. Experts predicted that cell phones would never replace wired phones. The idea that we might send objects into space was considered to be absurd. And flight was seen as preposterous: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,” one famous scientist stated confidently—only eight years before the Wright brothers achieved their first flight.
Innovators are people who make the impossible possible. To do that, they need the confidence and strength to go against the crowd. They need to be persistent, and they can’t afford to worry too much about what people think. So, it is not surprising that innovators often started out as strong-willed and independent-minded children—which wasn’t always easy for their parents and teachers! When Elon Musk was six, his mom said that he was grounded, so he walked the ten miles across town to a birthday party. Steve Jobs was a troublemaker who played tricks on his classmates and was sent home from school repeatedly. And Florence Nightingale liked to question everything—much to the despair of her mother, who thought she should be more obedient.
Although they were very intelligent, these innovators did not always do well in school. Many were
messy, disorganized, or absent-minded; others wanted to work only on the subjects that interested them. Quite a few of them had little in common with other kids their age and cared more about their own ideas than anything else: Jacques Cousteau was a loner, Alan Turing was a daydreamer, and Bill Gates wanted to stay in his room reading all day.
These innovators all started out as little kids with big ideas—and although they often faced obstacles and challenges, they grew up to be adults who pursued their interests with great creativity and passion. Without the innovators in this book, our world would be a very different place. May their stories inspire you to follow your own dreams and blaze your own trail!

Editorial Reviews

“Telling the true stories of famous people’s childhoods, this book inspires kids to think big and humanizes historical figures in a new and fresh way.”—CNN Underscored

“These reads aren’t just educational, they’re inspiring – they remind us all that we’re never too young to start dreaming! Plus – they’re a great resource for school projects!”—

“In accessible but never patronizing prose, Stevenson sketches the stories of her subjects’ childhoods, deftly setting the scene for each one and providing informative details, engaging quotes, and sometimes humorous anecdotes.”—Mombian
Praise for the Kid Legends series:
“Engaging and empowering.”—, on Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson

“Kids will be drawn in.”—Chicago Parent, on Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson

“The vivid details of each activist's story, combined with vibrant illustrations, demonstrate that every civil rights hero and popular firebrand started out as children, just like the rest of us.”—School Library Journal, on Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson

“A great way to encourage kids who already love science to pursue their interests as well as to show kids who are not motivated by traditional schooling that there are many paths to greatness.”—American Scientist Magazine, on Kid Scientists by David Stabler

“For your budding astrophysicist, inventor, doctor, environmentalist, or mathematician, Kid Scientists will open her eyes with mini-bios of interesting and accomplished people.”— Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez, on Kid Scientists by David Stabler

“Outstanding... Inspiring and entertaining.”—Booklist, starred review, on Kid Athletes by David Stabler

“A heartening reminder that 17 unconventional greats—not to mention all the rest—started out as children too.”—Kirkus Reviews, on Kid Artists by David Stabler

“Just like history class, only hilarious.”—Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, on Kid Presidents by David Stabler

“Full of real information, but the author made it fun and funny.”—Michael, age 9, on Kid Authors by David Stabler

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