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Best Kids Book About the Way Things Work

Updated on September 12, 2014

The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay

When my grandson was little, there was The Way Things Work. Now, there's The New Way Things Work, by David Macaulay. This little guy seemed to awake each day with a head full of questions about how things work. The older he got, the more he wanted to know how stuff works.

So, I set out to find the best kids book I could about "the way things work." And I found just that ... in fact, one with that exact title. It was supposedly for ages 9 to young adult. However, it was a BIG help to me in answering a seven year old's constant questions. I learned a lot from it myself!

Before long, we were looking up things, and reading together. Not surprisingly, I found that far more rewarding than fumbling for sufficiently expert, yet appropriately simple answers to his surprising questions.

You just might, too!


Can You Already Answer All Their Questions - About How Things Work?

Can you answer every question a six, seven, or eight year old can ask?

My grandson once asked "How does a key make a door unlock?" I could show him how you insert the key in the lock and turn it.

But he didn't need a demonstration. He wanted to know how the key interacted with what was inside the lock, Yeah, something about tumblers, and . . .

Guess what?

That just happens to be one of many things that is thoroughly explained - and brilliantly illustrated - in The Way Things Work!

Could you use a little help answering a child's questions on occasion?

See results

The New Way Things Work - My Grandson LOVED The Way Things Work

This is a book a child can grow up with - literally.

When my grandson was younger, we would read a topic together to answer one of his latest questions.

By the time he was 9, a question would occur to him, and he would head for The Way Things Work, to look for the answer himself.

Even as a teenager, he still returned to it from time to time. By then, of course, he was reading from a different perspective, and absorbing the workings of things in a more complex way.

This author really does know how to write something that serves different learning levels!

The New Way Things Work
The New Way Things Work

Now, author David Macaulay has updated the award winning book with new entries about the way newer things work - things that children (or the world in general) hadn't been exposed to when the original version came out.

I'm sure The New Way Things Work is every bit as engaging to today's curious children as the original was to my grandson over a decade ago


David Macaulay is an Award Winning Author

of Non-Fiction for Kids

Non-fiction for kids doesn't have to be boring, just because it presents fact rather than fantasy. The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay and Neil Ardley is thoroughly engaging, yet incredibly accurate. It's not only well researched, but also beautifully illustrated.

Macaulay is an award winning author and illustrator. His lovable woolly mammoth wanders from page to page among the technical drawings that illustrate precisely how different items are put together and function.


Did I say "Award-Winning?"

Yes, indeed!

While Macaulay has won many awards, The New Way Things Work, in particular, was won:

The Kansas State Reading Circle Recommendation - 2000

The New York Public Library Recommendation - 2000

The Not Just For Children Anymore! Selection - 2000

The Parents' Choice Gold Award - 1999

A Science Kit - for Kids Ages 8 and Older

Here's some great food for hungry young minds! Feed your youngster's brain with a science kit for kids!

This science kit for kids helps them understand basic principles of physics as they build simple, fun machines, including a windmill, a sail car, a mars robot, and more.

Includes a 64 page instruction book.

(Amazon rated for ages 8 to 12)

If your child is curious, and enjoys the way things work. they will probably also enjoy this hands on approach to finding out about how science works!

Are Non Fiction Books for Kids Boring?

No, no, a thousand times NO!

Kids are naturally curious. They want to know answers to questions that begin with the words HOW and WHY and WHEN and WHO. Non-fiction for kids answers dozens and dozens of those questions. It tells them about things they want to know about - at just the level and in just the amount of detail that they really need.

Every child should have his or her very own personal library, and that library should include both fiction and non-fiction.

Book Tree


Make sure their selection of non-fiction books include some reference books written specifically for children, like The New Way Things Work. That way, they will begin learning from an early age that they can "look up" the answers to things they wonder about.

When they are ready to graduate to "grown up" reference volumes, they'll be comfortable with the concept of research, which won't seem like a chore to them. The admonition to "Look it up" will be a welcome reminder, rather than a turn-off.

How many non-fiction books for kids?

How many non-fiction books (including childrens' reference books) are there in your child's own personal library?

See results

Other Books About How Stuff Works - for kids nine and older (available on Amazon)

These are mostly rated for children ages 9 - 12, but you may find that even 7 and 8 year olds will appreciate your reading to them from them, especially on topics they have asked questionis about.

Gift Cards are Always Appreciated!

Available in amounts from $10.00 to $1,500.00.

One-day shipping - no charge!

If you can't decide which book is best, or if you've waited til the last minute, an Amazon Gift Card is a great choice! $25 Gift Card (0108) $25 Gift Card (0108)

The perfect gift, because the recipient always gets just what they want, when they want it!

When they are ready to use their card, they'll have thousands of books (and other things) to choose from.


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    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      My son only liked non-fiction books until almost 2nd grade.

    • profile image

      ChroniclesofaWa 5 years ago

      You just made me realize. I don't have a non-fiction book for my child.

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 5 years ago

      Great lens. Every family should have a library of real books - even in the Kindle era.

    • DIY Mary profile image

      DIY Mary 5 years ago

      I cannot think of a better gift you can give to a child, especially to one with an inquiring mind.

    • Loganor profile image

      Loganor 5 years ago

      These books are so important to encourage a child's curiosity and learning about things that may interest him in becoming a scientist or engineer or designer someday.

    • EditPhotos profile image

      Edit Photos 5 years ago from Earth

      Great books and lens - blessed.

    • TemporaryTattoo1 profile image

      TemporaryTattoo1 5 years ago

      Great educational books you have featured here for kids, books are the best way I know in educating children, another fantastic lens from you GOOD JOB!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      It's an ideal book for my son!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Neat lens!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      My daughter loves books about the way things work, she keeps reading loud to me all the time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 5 years ago from State of Confussion

      Just try and stop my kids from trying to figure out how things work. Its not easy. Especially if involves taking it apart to learn.

    • pinkrenegade lm profile image

      pinkrenegade lm 5 years ago

      Great lens. These books are helpful in answering questions or explaining things to kids that are sometimes quite difficult to explai

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 5 years ago

      this is really a very interesting lens...thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      dream1983 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, squidlike!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning to review your best kids book about the way things work, I just love this idea to stimulate creative thinking and invention by kids.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Interesting lens, great job! Thumbs up

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 5 years ago

      Really good suggestions for kids. Thanks for sharing this list. Blessings to you

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 5 years ago

      I love his books. His building series is my favorite, but I also enjoy his videos. I learn a ton even though I am an adult (in disguise).

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 5 years ago

      I love Macaulay's books. He just makes everything seems so interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Children need all the references they can get. Getting them curious to learn about new things is important indeed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Very nice lens - pinned to my children's books board so that more people might come here.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Happy to be your 101'st "like." My kids loved the original The Way Things Workbook. David Macaulay is a wonderful author. BTW, glad your grandson asked about how a key worked in a lock. Our curious son took the front door lock apart to find out. Suffice it to say that it didn't go back together quite as easily as it came apart. That's one of those family stories on which I'd better not elaborate. :) Thanks for a good memory!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I think that learning about how things work is very important, both for children as well as adults. It's not a good attitude to go through life not understanding at least how some things work.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 6 years ago from Maryland

      My kids love non-fiction. I think when given the opportunity, kids love to learn about real life and how the world works. I think The New Way Things Work needs to be an addition to our school library! Thanks for the recommendation!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 6 years ago

      Awesome lens, kids can never have too many books - I think it's great to have a wide variety! Thanks for sharing this :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      LOL! I am quite familiar with this book. Very nice presentation.

    • BusyMOM LM profile image

      BusyMOM LM 6 years ago

      Nice, can't have too many how to books, especially for curious boys!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      wonderful lens :D

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @BobZau: Why, thank you!

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 6 years ago

      Another work of art, you make lens building look like child's play.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      I don't have any children, I still love children's books and have often thought about trying to write one.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 6 years ago

      I love all the books! Sundae ;-)

    • SquidooPower profile image

      SquidooPower 6 years ago

      Learning tools / books are something that I feel very strongly about so I love this lens. Great work.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 6 years ago

      I love that book tree poster! And I had to smile with your poll question, as my son turns 40 next month, yipes! Anyway, I probably gave my son more non-fiction books than fiction when he was young. Presented on a child's level non-fiction is awesome learning and reading fun.

    • donaldwilson profile image

      Don Wilson 6 years ago from Yakima, WA

      Interesting book. My kids are grown, and I don't have grandkids, yet, but I'd be tempted to get it anyway.

    • oceansky lm profile image

      Lisa Morris 6 years ago

      I love all the great books you shared with us. Good job on the lens.

    • profile image

      cruiselinefans 6 years ago

      I wanted to come back with an update - I had my Mom bring up my old copy of "The Way Things Work" from NY during Thanksgiving. I've started to read it to my mechanically inclined 3 year old son - and he LOVES it.

      Thanks so much for posting about this favorite book from my youth and bringing it back around for the next generation. Cheers!

    • profile image

      cruiselinefans 6 years ago

      I wanted to come back with an update - I had my Mom bring up my old copy of "The Way Things Work" from NY during Thanksgiving. I've started to read it to my mechanically inclined 3 year old son - and he LOVES it.

      Thanks so much for posting about this favorite book from my youth and bringing it back around for the next generation. Cheers!

    • profile image

      nealberk 6 years ago

      There is nothing more tragic than a kid wondering "why" about something and an adult brushing the child off. Curiosity needs to be rewarded in kids. there is nothing like the wonderment and excitement of the "wow" when kids learn something.

      The only possible exception is the answer to the question "Where do babies come from....." :)

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 6 years ago from Florida

      My sons love "The Way Things Work" -- especially the parts that include the mastodon.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @cruiselinefans: Yes, it does! There are some 40 new pages about things that are part of our lives now that weren't when the original came out. Examples: email, new machines, and innovations connected with the automotive industry.

    • Paki Bazar profile image

      Paki Bazar 6 years ago

      nice topic i enjoyed it reading

      keep it up

    • profile image

      cruiselinefans 6 years ago

      PS: Congrats on your Purple Star award - well deserved!

    • profile image

      cruiselinefans 6 years ago

      I wonder if the New "How Things Work" contains some new material. We have the original copy - mine when I was young - and now my three year old, machine obsessed, son has taken a liking to it. I was thinking the new version might make a good Christmas gift - for my boy and his 7 year old nephew.

      Thanks again for this wonderful reminder of how excellent some children's books really are - and how they're not just for children. Cheers!

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I could have done with this in my babysitting for nephews days!

    • Netlexis LM profile image

      Netlexis LM 6 years ago

      Great lens. In one of my other writing life, I write middle-grade nonfiction. Nothing a great as The Way Things Work, mostly the crafty, general interest kind. Still, glad to see someone promoting nonfiction.

    • profile image

      NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your star! Wonderful lens about a great set of books. I am all for anything that encourages curiosity and learning.

    • beckyf profile image

      beckyf 6 years ago

      We love the "way things work" books. Congrats on your purple star!

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 6 years ago

      Congratulations on getting a purple star. I have 4 kids and so far, there has not been an end to "how things work" Great topic for a lens. =)

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 6 years ago

      Great lens on a wonderful book! Blessed by a travelling angel.

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      my 2 sons loved non-fiction and fiction when they were younger,but now read only non-fiction.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      My boys loved non-fiction books and we did,too. Great job.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Kids are by nature very curious and things have to be explained to them with patience, books come handy and very useful.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I love that you encourage curiosity and literacy for the children and grandchildren in your life. Children's minds are such miracles and it is a delight to spend quality time nurturing their insatiable desire to know the world. We are the ones who gain the most when we make a commitment to feed the hunger that all children have for exploration. Thank you for spotlighting these excellent books.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      Lovely to see that 94% of us admit we need help when it comes to answering kids questions about how things work :)

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 6 years ago from USA

      Most of the boys I've taught and at least half of the girls love "how things work". Even those not initially drawn to it get absorbed once they start reading.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      As a librarian, I observed that boys are drawn to factual books. You've done well to understand that and encourage his interests.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @cruiselinefans: You are very welcome.

    • profile image

      cruiselinefans 6 years ago

      I loved this book as a boy, have my old copy on a shelf somewhere here at home and am grateful to you for the reminder to extract it and start showing The Boy all of my favorite pages. I can sense hours of entertainment ahead. Thank you!

    • vermontmom profile image

      vermontmom 6 years ago

      Right on. Get them interested in non-fiction now while it's easy! Keep lots of books of all types around the house.

    • AmyTK9 profile image

      AmyTK9 6 years ago

      Great Lens! I'm about to have a baby and it sounds like a great book to have around.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @lemonsqueezy lm: You are right. It's not going to stop any time soon at all.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @anonymous: I think you are right!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The New Way Things Work sounds like a wonderful addition to every child's library and I think we adults would maybe be borrowing it from time to time!

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 6 years ago

      Excellent idea. Seriously - my preschooler might even like something like this. Or maybe, I could use it to help myself because he is constantly asking questions. From what you described here, this behavior is probably going to continue for quite some time. Excellent suggestion.