12 Books for Kids About Making Things & GIVEAWAY!

12 Books for Kids About Making Things & GIVEAWAY!

Please welcome my guest author today, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, with her list about 12 Books About Making Things. We are also giving away her book, With My Hands: Poems About Making Things. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.


It is natural and necessary to make things with our hands, and in these screen-focused-days, celebrating making is more important and joyous than ever.  These books teach and tell stories about the power of using our hands to build, sculpt, and create. Make something! Help children become makers. It is a gift to work with our hands…

12 Books for Kids About Making Things

1. With My Hands: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson

This collection of poems whimsically honors the way our hands create something from nothing. From soap carving to painting to baking cookies, each poem dives into the surprise and joy that comes from the human act of making.  School Library Journal writes, “This is art about art.” [picture book, ages 4 and up]

2. Grow: A Family Guide to Growing Fruits and Vegetables by Ben Raskin

This book of growing projects, written and illustrated by a horticulturist, details several simple family gardening projects, from making compost to planting easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables. With bright illustrations and even stickers and gardening games, these pages will bring hands big and small closer to the earth. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

3. ish by Peter H. Reynolds

When his brother laughs at a new drawing, young art-loving Ramon is frustrated that his artwork does not exactly represent real life and almost gives up.  Fortunately, his sister Marisol sees that his vase does, indeed look “vase-ish.” With this bit of encouragement, Ramon sees the “ish” in all of his creations and lives “ishfully ever after.”  A testimony to the beauty of imperfection and art. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

4. The Best of Making Things: A Hand Book of Creative Discovery by Ann Sayre Wiseman

This is a classic book from the 1970s, all hand drawn and full of things to make with materials you have right at home. To try something new, to get away from your computer, to explore with simple materials, to find the satisfaction one receives from making…just open the cover and choose a project. This book is one you will keep forever. [project book, all ages]

5. Hands: Growing Up to Be an Artist by Lois Ehlert

A small, bold book full of beautiful, bright photographs tells the story of Lois Ehlert’s maker parents’ projects, including how they welcomed her into the world of art and creation.  Several pages in this book are cut into shapes of gloves, hands, pockets, and other artist-relate objects. The author’s note at the book’s end tells more about Ehlert’s maker childhood. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

6. Kids Cook! by Good Housekeeping

From Watermelon Pizza to Peach Melba Breakfast Pops to Triple Decker Tortilla Pie, this beginner cookbook is full of tasty favorites.  Simple ingredients and easy-to-read instructions as well as some twists on old favorites make this an easy weeknight go-to project for families or older children.  This book is filled with mouth-watering photographs and includes a foreword with chef tips on Knife Skills, Cook’s Lingo, and more. [cookbook, ages 8 and up]

7. Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzburg

This small format book shows all of the ways that an “oops” can become something marvelous. We can turn our mistakes into beauty, and in this happily painted, collaged, and hand drawn book, Saltzburg takes us on a celebratory tour of the perfection of imperfection. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

8. Maker Lab Outdoors: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner, foreword by Jack Andraka

Companion to Challoner’s Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects, this book offers well-explained projects, each detailed with photographs on a two-page spread. Among other things, children will learn how to make a wormery, a paper sundial, and a twirling helicopter. Categories of projects include: Nature Watch, World of Weather, Water Power, and Earth and Sky. [project book, ages 8 and up]

9. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Here is a story of a girl named Annabelle who finds a box full of yarn.  Each time she knits something new, she still has extra yarn, so she keeps knitting…for everyone and everything.  There are robbers and a threat, but ultimately a happy ending. This book is full enchanting illustrations and delightful lines such as, “‘No thank you,’ said Annaelle, who was knitting a sweater for a pickup truck.” [poetry picture book, ages 3 and up]

10. Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Lowell, illustrated by Rafael López

Based on the true story of how Rafael and Candice López artistically transformed the East Village near downtown San Diego, California, this exquisitely illustrated book tells the story of a girl named Mira who paints and paints with her community, making it beautiful through art. A testimony to the power of and need for art in our lives which includes a fabulous note from the authors. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

11. This is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter

A creative and exuberant little girl makes her own dollhouse as well as all of the furniture and food to go with it.  But when her friend (a friend with a store-bought dollhouse) comes to visit, she is embarrassed to share her own creations. Once she  does, she opens up a world of making and pretend and discovery to her friend and comes to appreciate her own homemade world in a brand new way as well. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

12. Mud Book: How to Make Pies and Cakes by John Cage, illustrated by Lois Long

This is a cookbook for outdoor cooking, but not for eating!  A classic from the 1950s, Mud Book is back to all of us into our backyards and forests, helping us get messy in the world of baking with dirt, water, dandelions, and other natural ingredients. Fun primitive paintings along with hand lettered pages make this book feel like something a child could make, and this makes it ever-more charming. [picture book, ages 3 and up]

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things GIVEAWAY!

We are also giving away her book, With My Hands: Poems About Making Things. Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. We can only mail to U.S. addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is author of children’s books including Forest Has a Song, Every Day Birds, Read! Read! Read!, Dreaming of You, and With My Hands.  She is a former fifth grade teacher, a nineteen-year writing teacher, and author of the professional book Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres. Amy lives in Holland, NY with her family, blogs for young writers at The Poem Farm and Sharing Our Notebooks, and posts on Twitter and Instagram as @amylvpoemfarm.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

12 Books for Kids About Making Things & GIVEAWAY!

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. John Smith

    “What are your favorite hands on books for kids?” Kids’ cookery books!

  2. Emily

    I love this list! Some of my favs are Peter Reynolds’ Dot, Ish and Sky Color. I also love Harold and the Purple Crayon, Andrew Draws and The Line…great for comparing!

  3. Rhonda

    Any well written illustrated interactive book,

  4. Allison Jackson

    I love this idea, and the list of books. Some I know, but others are new to me. Totally agree that we all need opportunities to makes something with our hands.

  5. Patricia Nozell

    Great list of books for a wonderful topic! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jill rickert

    I love Amy! I love her poems and her as a person. She comes to our school and I feel recharged – happy and enthused to teach writing. She has so many great ideas because she lives it. I think she is fantastic

  7. What an amazing giveaway. I would love to win and donate them to my co-author’s school library and Makerspace. I have read Extra Yarn and Ish and love them both. Can’t wait to check out the rest!

    Three of my favorite hands on books- Rosie Revere, Engineer, I Am Not a Box, and The Most Magnificent Thing.

    I hope my comment is able to go through- I keep getting a comment saying I didn’t take enough time to write, or my comment seems automated (and it isn’t).
    Jess Haight recently posted…Fairday’s Riddle: Nostalgic Peeps…My Profile

  8. Cathy Miller

    I’m so excited for this book! I follow Amy on Twitter!

  9. Jennifer Oliger

    I introduced my students to Zentangle this year, and they love learning new designs from the Zentangle books.

  10. Love seeing Cynthia Platt’s Grow here! I can’t wait to read it–she was my editor for the Penny & Jelly books!!

    Looking forward to this book as well as Dreaming of You, Amy! Congrats!!

  11. Great list! I also love Steady Hands: Poems about Work by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.

  12. I love this list of books. Pizza Day as well as Soup Day by Melissa Iwai are great maker books for the youngest set.

  13. Hands-on-books for kids I love? Any craft book!

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