Episode 107: Books that spark design thinking

August 7, 2023

In episode 107 of the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast:

Books that spark design thinking

While we tend to associate the idea of ‘design’ with hands-on projects, books can play a big role in encouraging creativity, problem-solving, making and tinkering. Megan looks at books that support Design Thinking in the Australian curriculum, and invites everyone to visit their school library in the lead up to Book Week. Plus, Allison has quick tips for children’s authors looking to spread the word about their books. 

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Books we mention

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Bookmail and TBR pile

‘Alight: A Story of Fire and Nature’ by Sam Lloyd. Illustrated by Samantha Metcalf 

‘Business Chickens’ by Jess McGeachin 

‘The Black Cockatoo with One Feather Blue’ by Jodie McLeod. Illustrated by Eloise Short. Designed by Melissa Mylchrees

‘Some Fish Have Moustaches’ by Heidi Walkinshaw. Illustrated by Michel Streich


Students explore and investigate technologies − materials, systems, components, tools and equipment − including their purpose and how they meet personal and social needs within local settings. Students develop an understanding of how society and environmental sustainability factors influence design and technologies decisions. Students evaluate designed solutions using questions such as ‘How does it work?’, ‘What purpose does it meet?’, ‘Who will use it?’, ‘What do I like about it?’ or ‘How can it be improved?’ They begin to consider the impact of their decisions and of technologies on others and the environment including in relation to preferred futures. They reflect on their participation in a design process. This involves students developing new perspectives, and engaging in different forms of evaluating and critiquing products, services and environments based on personal preferences. ACARA

Bingo Question

‘The Imagineer’ by Christopher Cheng. Illustrated by Lucia Masciullo 

Penny has a massive imagination. She loves to draw up plans, gather her tools and turn sketches and scribbles into new creations.

‘Something Wonderful’ by Raewyn Caisley. Illustrated by Karen Blair 

Discovery, invention and the importance of dreams. Sam likes to pull things apart and put them back together, and think about how things work. 

‘Whatya Building’ by Andrew Daddo. Illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Little Davey Durak is gathering scrap – a short piece of wood here, a long piece there. But what’s Davey building? 

‘The Patchwork Bike’ by Maxine Beneba-Clarke. Illustrated by Van T Rudd

This vibrant book celebrates creativity and resourcefulness as children construct a bike using recycled materials, promoting problem-solving and innovation.

ALL the books about The Questioneers by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts 

Read about Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, Sofia Valdez, and Aaron Slater on all of their design/make/think adventures! Add the picture books, chapter books, and activity books starring The Questioneers by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts to your home or school library today.

‘Young Engineers’ by Andrew King. Illustrated by Benjamin Johnston

‘Hello Design’ by Isabel Thomas 

Did you know that everything you touch has been designed? Your toys, your clothes, your scooter . . . and this book! A design can be as small as a toothbrush . . . or as BIG as a skyscraper. Every design starts in someone’s imagination – an imagination just like yours.

‘Let’s Build a Boat’ by Jane Godwin. Illustrated by Meg Rennie

‘Jessica’s Box’ by Peter Carnavas 

‘What to do With a Box’ by Jane Yolen. Illustrated Chris Sheban

‘Not a Box’ by Antoinette Portis

‘Grumble Boats’ by Susannah McFarlane. Illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie 

‘Ella and the Useless Day’ by Meg McKinlay. Illustrated by Karen Blair

Ella’s house is full of things… useless things! At least that’s what she and Dad think. But when they decide to have a clean-up day, something very curious happens. Maybe what is useless to them is treasure to someone else?

‘Beautiful Oops!’ by Barney Saltzberg 

‘The Very Hard Book’ by Idan Ben-Barak. Illustrated by Philip Bunting

‘Claudette’ by Helene Magisson 

Loutka is a brilliant puppet maker. All of his creations work perfectly, just as he expects them to.
Except for Claudette. She is a rickety misfit who longs for freedom and adventure.
What can be done with such a puppet?

‘If I Buillt a House by Chris Van Dusen

‘What do you Do with an Idea?’ by Kobi Yamada. Illustrated by Mae Besom

‘The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp’ by Paul Russell. Illustrated by Nicky Johnson

‘Brobot’ by James Foley

‘The Cleo Stories: The Necklace and the Present’ by Libby Gleeson. Illustrated by Freya Blackwood 

‘The First Scientists: Deadly Inventions and Innovations from Australia’s First Peoples’ by Corey Tutt. Illustrated by Blak Douglas 

This book will nourish readers’ love of science and engineering and develop their respect for Indigenous knowledge at the same time.

‘The Most Magnificent Thing’ by Ashley Spires 

‘The Dot’ by Peter H. Reynolds 

‘Going Places’ by Peter H. and Paul A. Reynolds 

‘The Wild Robot’ by Peter Brown 

This book follows the story of a robot stranded on a wild island, promoting problem-solving, adaptation, and the exploration of different perspectives. It about what happens when nature and technology collide. By turns funny, moving, surprising and dramatic, this is a novel that is as thought-provoking as it is enchanting.

‘Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’ by Chris Grabenstein  

This adventure-filled book challenges a group of children to solve puzzles, think critically, and collaborate in order to escape a high-tech library.

Quick tips

5 Things Your Child’s Teacher Librarian Wants You to Know by Lana Hallowes. 


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Meet Allison Rushby, the third member of #teamyknr. Find out about Allison and her books here.