My general criterion for books I select for my daughter is that I hope she will find them enjoyable. That's all. But about 18 months ago I ran across Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. I knew that she liked the companion book, Iggy Peck, Architect. But I also studied engineering in college myself, and while I would never force any career choice on her, I'm happy for her to see that as one option. So I bought Rosie Revere, Engineer for my daughter for Christmas that year. We read it once or twice, but she was not particularly interested, and it landed on a shelf of less frequently read books. She was about 3 1/2.
Recently, however, my daughter, now 5, has decided that she is interested in architecture as a possible career path. This came about because she said that she wanted to build Legos when she grew up, and I suggested that architects can help build real buildings, which she thought was pretty cool. So we've been practicing math and reading Iggy Peck a bit more. I ran across Rosie Revere the other day, and I thought: "Why not try this one again?" This time, she LOVED it.
As soon as she put the book down she had to go read part of Iggy Peck again (just the part where the kids construct a bridge from shoelaces and such). Then she wanted to read Rosie Revere again. She in particular pored over a page late in the book where various kids from Rosie and Iggy's class invent things. And then she said: "I want to make my own inventions." The timing for this was not optimal, because I was trying to get her to go to sleep. But I certainly appreciated the sentiment. She was SO excited. She dragged out an old, defective slinky from a drawer and proposed using it to make spring shoes (shown in the book). She got out a Mr. Potatohead and tried to combine the pieces in new ways. She was, in short, inspired.
It's not that she's never been influenced by a book, of course. Singing songs, coloring pictures, etc. But this is the first time I've seen her light up in response to a new possibility, introduced by a book. I'm sure it will not be the last.
The other take-home message from this for me is a reminder that kids need the right book at the right time. This is the justification for us having a ridiculously large number of board books, picture books, and early readers. Because you just never know when some particular book is going to hit at just the right time, and inspire a child.
Thank you, Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, for inspiring my child. Of course by next week she'll probably want to be a water table again, but for now, we are having fun with the idea of inventing.