Beat boredom this summer by encouraging your child to be a “maker.” Provide your children with simple, inexpensive materials, or common household items, and the resulting creativity may surprise you. Toddlers may enjoy stacking things to make a small tower, while older children explore kinetic energy with dominoes. Here are some of our favorite books about creating, plus a few ideas for fun activities. 


Sam & Eva by Debbie Ridpath Oh

Sam wants to create alone but Eva wants to collaborate, persistently adding her own ideas, resulting in a “creative clash.”  As the work becomes filled with a velociraptor, a superhero, a falling piano, and exploding confetti, both friends become overwhelmed. 

Children will love the brightly colored illustrations, relatable theme, and creative problem-solving. Challenge your family to create teamwork-artwork, with each person taking a turn to add their own design. Or, write a story together, with each person writing a few sentences and passing the paper to the next person.

Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty

Iggy loves building and has made structures with everything from dirt to diapers to pancakes. Unfortunately, his teacher doesn’t allow building at school. A class picnic and a collapsing footbridge give Iggy his chance to shine. Let your school-age children build at home with toothpick towers (toothpicks and marshmallows), or challenge them to use blocks or other items to build a bridge that is strong enough to hold a stack of books. 

The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier

Ruby wants to build a fort but her brothers won’t help. Undaunted, Ruby draws the plans, finds the materials, and builds the fort by herself. Of course everyone wants to play in the fort and enjoy the “fort-warming party.” This modern spin on The Little Red Hen tale will inspire children to create their own forts. Red plastic cups are in abundance during the summer and can be used for plenty of building challenges. What can your children make with 50 cups? Who can build the tallest tower?  How fast can they build a pyramid of cups?

Boxitects by Kim Smith

Meg is a “boxitect” and can make boxes into anything. She loves being the only boxitect in a class of “blanketeers, spaghetti-tects, tin-foilers, and egg-cartoneers” until a new student arrives. As they compete to be the best builder, they make mistakes resulting in a collapsed project, and must find a way to work together. The book also includes a guide to other box structures that your child may enjoy creating at home. 

Dreaming Up by Christy Hale

This “celebration of building” features double-page illustrations of children’s building materials, child-made structures, and real-world examples from a variety of well-known architects and creators.  Rhyming text provides a simple read-aloud experience, while also giving children ideas of things to create with household materials. 

We hope your children enjoy reading or listening to these stories. Be sure to stop by your local library to pick up a Summer Reading log so your family can keep track of their reading for a chance to win some great prizes!

Melinda Vest is Youth Services Manager of the Bluffton Branch Library of the Beaufort County Library System.