Hello again, parents and caregivers of young children! In my last post I made the mistake of writing about Autumn. I should have seen my folly from the moment I typed the words “cool north wind” but alas, I tarried on with fanciful hope of Autumn’s early entrance. What happened next? Oklahomans endured a cruel spate of 85 degree (or higher) days that felt much more like early June than late September. Though I’m hopeful the autumnal equinox will bring cooler days alongside it, I decided to forego a seasonal theme this time for something more timeless: ROBOTS. If you need a list of spooky and/or Fall-themed books for your little one, I’ll point you in this direction.
So, about those robots. Last month at the Del City Library we received a grant from the Friends of the Metropolitan Library System. Because of their generosity we were able to team up with ROBAUTO, a start-up based in Boulder, CO that is dedicated to making “Robots for the People”. We recently debuted BiBli for 40+ kids and parents and had a really great time talking about design, electronics, circuitry, and robotics.
BiBli is the kind of robot with which kids are able to tinker. She’s not exactly the kind of robot you take out of the box and immediately play with (though you certainly can). What we love about BiBli is that she’s got a totally see-through casing that allows children to ask questions like, “What’s that do?” and “Where does that wire go?” It’s these kinds of questions that educators love because it open up avenues of inquiry that remain closed with a more “polished” product. For most young learners, “playing” with BiBli is a totally unique (and fun!) learning experience.
Robots will inevitably replace humans in many fields; the “invasion” is coming. The question isn’t what to do with the robots. The question is what to do with all that freed human manpower and ingenuity now that the menial tasks can be performed by robots. That’s an exciting challenge, right?! Humans have the ability to think abstractly to solve the complex problems that affect our species. Robots do not.
Okay, enough about real robots! I hope the following list of robot stories will help you and your kiddos dare to dream about a robotic future and how such a future could help solve world crises and improve our lives. Or more appropriately, I hope they help you giggle together! *BeEp*BoP*BoOP*Until next time, keep reading together!
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman (illustrated by Dan Yaccarino)
When Boy and Bot meet in the woods, they immediately kindle a friendship. But when Bot loses power, Boy must think creatively to make him power back on. Applesauce and storytime don’t work, so Boy tucks in Bot and hopes he’ll be better in the morning. Little does Boy know, the tables will be turned and Bot will take it upon himself to “cure” Boy from his sleepy state.
Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
This is one of my favorite books of all time, not necessarily because of what happens in the story but because of the opportunities it presents to talk about tough issues with kiddos. I “read” (it’s almost an entirely wordless graphic novel) it with my son when he was 5 and we talked a lot about the ending. I’ll say this about the ending: it’s not happy. Please read this poignant book first before you share it with young readers.
Robot, Zombie, Frankenstein! by Annette Simon
The ultimate book of robotic one-upsmanship! What’s better than a robot? Nothing! Except maybe a robot-zombie! And what’s better than that? A robot-zombie-frankenstein, of course! Find out what’s next by reading this hilariously goofy book.
The Robot and the Bluebird by David Lucas
A beautiful and touching tale about a robot that is cast aside because his heart no longer functions. When he meets a floundering bluebird in the midst of a snowstorm, he finds the will to tarry on and fill up that aching, empty spot in his chest. I absolutely adore this book for its charming illustrations and thoughtful text.
Hello, Robots! by Bob Staake
Bob Staake is one of my favorite author/illustrators.. In this tale of robotic high jinks his quirky, geometric illustrations perfectly complement hilarious rhyming text. Everything really gets wacky when the robots begin malfunctioning because of water damage.
Power Down, Little Robot by Anna Staniszewski (illustrated by Tim Zeltner)
When Mom Unit tells Little Robot it’s time to enter his sleep module, he knows just what to do: initiate his “stalling” program. “I need a can of oil! Please read me a manual! There are rust monsters under my sleep module!” Parents and kids will love this new take on a familiar bedtime routine.
Doug, Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
I love Doug the robot. And I love when Doug unplugs. In the first book of the series, Doug’s parents wire him up and set the computer to download information all about the city. When Doug sees a pigeon at the window, he decides to unplug from the computer and see the city for himself. A cautionary tale of sorts, Doug reminds us that experiencing life and building relationships in person can often be a lot more fun than being tethered to a device.
Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! by Todd Tarpley (illustrated by John Rocco)
This is another fun bedtime robot book, but with a twist: the little boy is trying to get his robots to power down for the night, but they come up with every excuse imaginable to stay up late. The rhyming text and frequent refrains of “BEEP! BEEP!” make this an excellent read-aloud for bedtime.