Tech Your Children Well | Technology & Machines Series Nonfiction

Students interested in robotics, AI, drones, and the inner workings of everything from high-speed trains to V8 engines will find myriad possibilities in these 16 new series. 



 

Digital natives live among us! With kids who have grown up in a tech-heavy world, we’ve all heard adults say, “They know this stuff better than I do!” But a lack of fear when it comes to using new devices is not the same as knowing how to use them safely or understanding the complexity of how they were conceived of and built in the first place. The many series presented below give librarians (and other grown-ups) ways to help fill in those gaps by creating informed, empathetic digital citizens who approach all technology with curiosity first and foremost. They also highlight the monumental challenges of creating new technology. In understanding what it takes to get these big ideas off the ground, hopefully readers will learn not only to treat them with respect, but to always dream big.
 

EARLY ELEMENTARY

Colins, Luke. Animal Robots. ISBN 9781623101626.
––––. Battling Robots. ISBN 9781623101633.
––––. Medical Robots. ISBN 9781623101640.
––––. Military Robots. ISBN 9781623101657.
––––. Space Robots. ISBN 9781623101664.
––––. Underwater Robots. ISBN 9781623101671.
ea vol: 24p. (World of Robots). Black Rabbit/Bolt Jr. Jan. 2020. Tr. $29.95.
Gr 1-2 –This series highlights some of the very coolest robots that will catch the attention of young readers. Aside from being awesome, animal bots can be helpful. A snake bot that is small enough to wriggle through rubble can search for victims after earthquakes or bombings. Battle bots are mostly just for fun, but medical and military robots help people by assisting with surgeries and keeping soldiers out of harm’s way, respectively. Space and underwater robots allow scientists to virtually go where they physically cannot, collecting samples and data for further analysis. Vocabulary words are introduced slowly, defined on the same pages as they’re introduced, and then collected in a glossary. The writing is simple and not overly comprehensive, but is ample enough to give curious readers the bot fix they crave. VERDICT A flashy series kids will gravitate toward.


Gleisner, Jenna Lee. City Trains. ISBN 9781645272380.
––––. Freight Trains. ISBN 9781645272403.
––––. High-Speed Trains. ISBN 9781645272427.
––––. Monorail Trains. ISBN 9781645272441.
––––. Passenger Trains. ISBN 9781645272465.
ea vol: 24p. (All Aboard). Jump!/Bullfrog. Aug. 2020. Tr. $24.
K-Gr 3 –Bright photos and simple text make these latest entries to the Bullfrog family welcome additions. City Trains includes information on subways (like the London Underground) and above-ground trains (like the Chicago L). Freight Trains looks at all the different kinds of cargo transported by these behemoths. High-speed trains move fast to carry passengers to their destination, but monorail trains go slowly so people can enjoy the view. The inner workings of maglev trains are described simply enough for the youngest readers to understand. Passenger trains take both long and short journeys. The people in the photos are wonderfully diverse and happy to be traveling by train. Glossary terms with picture clues help readers add new words to their vocabulary. VERDICT Sure to be a hit everywhere; a first purchase series.

 

Murray, Julie. NASA Spinoffs. ISBN 9781532129261.
––––. Rovers. ISBN 9781532129278.
––––. Satellites. ISBN 9781532129285.
––––. Shuttles. ISBN 9781532129292.
––––. Space Tools. ISBN 9781532129308.
––––. Telescopes. ISBN 9781532129315.
ea vol: 24p. (Space Technology). ABDO/Dash!. Dec. 2019. Tr. $27.07.
K-Gr 4 –Independent readers interested in learning more about space technology will be drawn to this compelling series. The heavy hitters (Rovers, Satellites, and Shuttles) are glamorous and sure to appeal to an audience of space fanatics, but the secret bests of this series are NASA Spinoffs and Space Tools. NASA Spinoffs in particular shares a variety of products (ear thermometers, memory foam, and wireless headsets) developed for the public after first being researched and made for astronauts. Spacesuits and robot cranes in Space Tools will amaze readers with how much work goes into keeping astronauts safe and working outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Telescopes includes a large section about the Hubble Space Telescope and features beautiful photos taken by HST. VERDICT With clean, focused layouts and lots of photos, these books are exciting and informative. Recommended first purchases.


UPPER ELEMENTARY

Amin, Anita Nahta. What Would It Take to Make a Hoverboard? ISBN 9781543591156.
––––. What Would It Take to Make a Jet Pack? ISBN 9781543591187.
Baxter, Roberta. What Would It Take to Build a Deflector Shield? ISBN 9781543591200.
––––. What Would It Take to Make an Energy Blade? ISBN 9781543591170.
Durkin, Megan Ray. What Would It Take to Make a Flying Car? ISBN 9781543591163.
––––. What Would It Take to Upload a Mind? ISBN 9781543591194.
LaPierre, Yvette. What Would It Take to Build a Time Machine? ISBN 9781543591217.
MacCarald, Clara. What Would It Take to Make an Invisibility Cloak? ISBN 9781543591118.
ea vol: 32p. (Sci-Fi Tech). Capstone. Jan. 2020. Tr. $21.99.
Gr 3-5 –Is sci-fi tech just a fantasy, or could it be real? This series seeks to answer that question in a concrete way by discussing the technology required to build contraptions like a time machine or a flying car. The text also analyzes whether or not we currently have that capability. For some tech (hoverboards and jet packs), bulky or inadequate options already exist. For other items, like energy blades and deflector shields, the theoretical possibility is there, but no one has yet come up with a way to make it happen. For the really out there inventions, like time machines and invisibility cloaks, these may be objects innovators forever dream of but never actualize. These well-written books will excite fans of summer blockbusters. The encouraging tone, ample illustrations and photos, and inspiring message are great. VERDICT ­Exciting first purchases.

 

Amstutz, Lisa J. Before Television. ISBN 9781644930465.
Bell, Samantha S. Before Cell Phones. ISBN 9781644930410.
––––. Before Streaming Music. ISBN 9781644930458.
––––. Before the Internet. ISBN 9781644930472.
Berg, Shannon. Before Computers. ISBN 9781644930427.
Downs, MIke. Before Video Games. ISBN 9781644930489.
Hamen, Susan E. Before Online Shopping. ISBN 9781644930434.
––––. Before Social Media. ISBN 9781644930441.
ea vol: 32p. (What Did We Do?). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 3-5 –Adults who’ve had to explain commercials to children who are accustomed to streaming television, rejoice. This series explains just how far humans have come to have numerous options for instant entertainment and connection. Before TV and video games, people got their news and entertainment from radio, print sources, and live performances. Kids played board games or played with friends in person. Before social media and cell phones, contacting friends took more time. Readers will see clearly how the internet and computers have revolutionized our daily lives. Time line photos show the evolution of devices in a concrete way. A quick set of questions at the end of each book tests reader comprehension. Though the writing isn’t particularly exciting, it’s informative and good for early researchers. VERDICT A fine additional purchase.

 

Bethea, Nikole Brooks. How Does Social Media Work? ISBN 9781641288903.
––––. How Does the Internet Work? ISBN 9781641288873.
––––. What Are Apps? ISBN 9781641288934.
––––. What Is Coding? ISBN 9781641288965.
ea vol: 24p. (Digital Planet). Jump!/Pogo. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 2-5 –This simplified series explains how the digital world works. How Does Social Media Work? discusses the positives (like instant connection) as well as the safety concerns in sharing personal information online. How Does the Internet Work? provides a very basic overview of how the internet transfers data from one computer to another. A small sidebar briefly mentions safety, but not enough to make it truly helpful. What Are Apps? describes the development and benefits of the various apps on the market. What Is Coding? focuses on the results produced by coding rather than how to code, but emphasis is placed on the user-friendly accessibility of some platforms, especially for young children. Each book concludes with activities and tools that encourage further exploration, like creating a fake social media site based on a favorite hobby. VERDICT A fine supplemental purchase.

 

Brainard, Jason. Drones for Fun. ISBN 9781725309203.
Faust, Daniel R. Drones for the Police and Military. ISBN 9781725309364.
––––. Drones in Space. ISBN 9781725309401.
Hart, Shannon H. Drones for Helping the Environment. ISBN 9781725309241.
Honders, Christine. Drones for Photography. ISBN 9781725309289.
Linde, Barbara Martina. Drones for Racing and Sports. ISBN 9781725309326.
––––. Drones in the Water. ISBN 9781725309449.
ea vol: 24p. (Drones Are Everywhere!). Rosen/PowerKids. Jan. 2020. Tr. $23.60.
Gr 2-5 –For readers who are just getting into drones, this series is informative and fun. Not only can they learn about recreational uses of drones in Drones for Fun and Drones for Racing and Sports, but they can see how drones can be used by the police, military, and NASA to keep people safe while having robots conduct surveillance, check for bombs, and collect samples from uninhabitable places. Drones can help the environment, too, by planting trees, fighting forest fires, protecting wildlife from poachers, and even vacuuming trash out of the ocean. Personal drones are also used for great aerial shots, as discussed in Drones for Photography. The Federal Aviation Administration rules for drones are listed in the recreational books, and following the rules is emphasized. VERDICT With exciting writing, this is a fine set for all libraries.

 

Dickmann, Nancy. Computer Programs and Coding. ISBN 9781538252567.
––––. How Computers Work. ISBN 9781538252598.
––––. Networks and the Internet. ISBN 9781538252628.
––––. Robots and Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781538252659.
ea vol: 32p. (Computing for Kids). Rosen/Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2020. Tr. $26.60.
Gr 3-5 –For young readers interested in learning more about computers and how they connect people, this series is informative and effective. The history of coding is explored in Computer Programs and Coding, from the first computers that ran on punch cards to the creation of algorithms and coding. It’s an interesting overview. How Computers Work discusses the hardware and software that make computing possible. Networks and the Internet shares how the internet allows us to transmit data from one side of the planet to another and how computers that are far away can access the same information. It also describes how cloud computing and wireless networks create even more freedom for browsers. Each book concludes with a quiz to test reading comprehension. The books are a mix of photos and illustrations that offer an effective presentation of the topic. VERDICT A fine addition to most collections.


Downs, Mike. Invention of Flight. ISBN 9781731629791.
––––. Invention of Space Exploration. ISBN 9781731629807.
––––. Invention of the Combustion Engine. ISBN 9781731629845.
Koontz, Robin. Invention of Electricity. ISBN 9781731629838.
––––. Invention of Robotics. ISBN 9781731629814.
Reed, Jennifer. Invention of Phones. ISBN 9781731629821.
ea vol: 32p. (It Changed the World). Rourke/Bridges. Jan. 2020. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 3-6 –This series shows how these major inventions have impacted human history. Not only did airplanes revolutionize travel, they also made everything faster—movement of goods, fertilization of fields, and warfare. Space exploration not only allowed people to learn more about Earth’s atmosphere, but it produced some of the biggest advances in technology thanks to NASA research. Electricity is now a familiar power source, but keeping food edible and unspoiled was extremely difficult without it. These books highlight the importance of thinking outside the box and how competition and innovation lead to monumental advances for all humans. Of course, challenges are addressed too—combustion engines have increasingly harmed the environment, but the next innovator reading these books could help change that. VERDICT Crisp presentation of important facts; a great first purchase for most libraries.

 

Doyle, Abby Badach. Bloggers. ISBN 9781538247495.
––––. Podcasters. ISBN 9781538247617.
––––. Social Media Influencers. ISBN 9781538247655.
Bard, Jonathan. Gamers and Streamers. ISBN 9781538247532.
Keppeler, Jill. Online Journalists. ISBN 9781538247570.
Schaefer, Benjamin Mark. Vloggers. ISBN 9781538247693.
ea vol: 32p. (Digital Insiders). Rosen/Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2020. Tr. $26.60.
Gr 3-6 –Readers who are interested in getting into marketing or building a brand digitally will be excited to read this informative series. Each book offers a brief history of the format and then talks about how people get started working with it. Bloggers and vloggers use their words to talk about their passions. Blogs and vlogs can be about anything: fashion, food, decorating, makeup, or politics. Those books discuss the importance of editing before publishing new content. All the books, but especially Social Media Influencers, describe how advertising and partnerships help these digital insiders earn money. Internet safety is always prioritized, and most of the titles cover the difficulty of being “internet famous” and having so much of your life on display. Equal parts informative and cautionary, this series offers young readers a wealth of knowledge. VERDICT These hot topics will fly off the shelves; first purchases for sure.
 

Duling, Kaitlyn. Air Force One: Protecting the President’s Plane. ISBN 9781543590562.
––––. Underground Storage Vaults: Protecting Priceless Information. ISBN 9781543590586.
Harkrader, Lisa. Fort Knox: Protecting the U.S. Gold Reserves. ISBN 9781543590623.
Hudd, Emily. Nuclear Weapon Bunkers: Protecting Stockpiles of Deadly Weapons. ISBN 9781543590609.
ea vol: 32p. (High Security). Capstone. Jan. 2020. Tr. $28.65.
Gr 4-6 –Readers will learn fascinating facts about America’s most secure sites and structures. Air Force One shares details (its business office, gym, and kitchen) about the airplane built to keep presidents safe, but keeps a lot secret...mostly because the defenses on this plane are a secret to everyone but its personnel. Underground storage vaults protect high-value or rare physical objects, but can also employ digital protection using super secure servers. Fort Knox is one of the most secure places on Earth and for good reason; it holds over 5,000 tons of gold. Trivia at the end of each book offers extra jaw-dropping facts; suggested activities extend learning beyond the book. VERDICT A fascinating look at amazing high-security measures. A highly recommended series.

 

Fontichiaro, Kristin. Recording Podcasts. ISBN 9781534159136.
––––. Searching Online. ISBN 9781534159082.
Lovett, Amber. Being a Team Player Online. ISBN 9781534159143.
––––. Creating Digital Videos. ISBN 9781534159129.
––––. Sharing Photos Online. ISBN 9781534159112.
Matteson, Adrienne. Building a Digital Footprint. ISBN 9781534159099.
––––. Staying Safe Online. ISBN 9781534159105.
Truesdell, Ann. Respecting Others Online. ISBN 9781534159075.
ea vol: illus. by Rachael McLean. 24p. (Create and Share: Thinking Digitally). Cherry Lake. Jan. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 2-5 –This comprehensive series covers a vast swath of the digital world. For readers who are interested in learning more about content creation, Recording Podcasts, Creating Digital Videos, and Sharing Photos Online will fit the bill. Not only do they break down the planning, shooting/recording, and editing of podcasts, videos, and photos, they also offer step-by-step activities throughout the text. Being a Team Player Online, Building a Digital Footprint, Staying Safe Online, and Respecting Others Online focus more on being a good digital citizen by following safety rules and practicing SMART behavior (safety, manners, adult supervision, responsibility, teamwork). Searching Online walks readers through a safe internet search, evaluating information, and safety basics. Complemented by diverse illustrations, the content is age appropriate and effective. VERDICT Highly recommended.
 

Nickel, Scott & others. A Garfield Guide to Online Etiquette: Be Kind Online. ISBN 9781541572805.
––––. A Garfield Guide to Online “Friends”: Not the Same as Real Friends! ISBN 9781541572775.
––––. A Garfield Guide to Posting Online: Pause Before You Post. ISBN 9781541572799.
––––. A Garfield Guide to Safe Downloading: Downloading Disaster! ISBN 9781541572782.
ea vol: illus. by Paws, Inc. 24p. (Garfield’s ® Guide to Digital Citizenship). Lerner. Jan. 2020. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 2-5 –This fun, comic book–style series explains how to be a good digital citizen. Poor Nermal keeps making bad decisions online: illegally downloading a movie from a “TOTALLY SAFE!” website and getting a virus, oversharing on social media and endangering himself, nearly sharing his gaming password with a stranger online, and posting an unflattering picture of Otto which leads to the octopus getting cyberbullied. Garfield keeps shuffling in to save the day. With the help of Dr. Cybrina, a sassy cat working at the Center for Cyber Safety and Education, and her “Internet Safety Toolbox,” Nermal learns how to be a good person on the web. Post-narrative activities include comprehension questions that gauge what readers have learned. VERDICT Sure to be a crowd-pleaser; a first purchase where “Garfield” comic collections circulate well.

 

MIDDLE GRADE TO HIGH SCHOOL

Abell, Tracy. Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Debates. ISBN 9781644930731.
Hulick, Kathyrn. What Is Artificial Intelligence? ISBN 9781644930762.
Kulz, George Anthony. Artificial Intelligence in the Real World. ISBN 9781644930748.
MacCarald, Clara. Humans vs. Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781644930755.
ea vol: 48p. (Artificial Intelligence). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2020. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 5-9 –Artificial intelligence is put under the microscope in this critical series. Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Debates digs deep into the many issues that can come from relinquishing too much control to AI. AI can be helpful to doctors, but working alone, the systems can’t make the same judgments as humans and can misdiagnose people, causing great harm or even death. Another serious issue is that AI retains the same biases as the people who program the systems, and as those are mostly white men, these systems are more likely to be biased against women and people of color. Most people experience AI daily with chatbots on the phone and online, but generally speaking, not many people trust the results they get with AI compared to real humans. Overall, the series is compelling, very readable, and ideal for research about human/AI interaction. VERDICT Highly recommended.

 

Tomkins, Nicholas. Corvettes & The Muscle Car Revival. ISBN 9781422244173.
––––. Hemis & Drag Racing Muscle Cars. ISBN 9781422244180.
––––. High Performance: The V8 Revolution. ISBN 9781422244166.
––––. Mustangs & Camaros. ISBN 9781422244159.
––––. Pre-Muscle Cars & GTOs. ISBN 9781422244142.
ea vol: 80p. (Muscle Cars). National Highlights/Mason Crest. Jan. 2020. Tr. $34.60.
Gr 7 Up –Muscle cars, as defined in the first chapter of each book, are mostly normal cars with big, “raunchy” V8 engines under the hoods, giving them the raw power that zippy sports cars and standard sedans just don’t have. For each model, their history is thoroughly examined and all their iterations are explored. Gearheads will love learning about the many tweaks made to the early Chevy Corvettes that turned them into the classic muscle cars they are today. Chrysler developed two of the most powerful engines in production, the Hemi and the Max Wedge. All of this was done to catch up to the Ford Mustang. The terminology used is best understood if you have more than a basic understanding of engines, but glossary terms, comprehension questions, and research suggestions will help readers gain the knowledge they need. VERDICT Fine additional purchases.

 

Whiting, Jim. Autonomous Vehicles. ISBN 9781640262355.
––––. Computer Science. ISBN 9781640262362.
––––. Drones. ISBN 9781640262379.
––––. Robots. ISBN 9781640262386.
ea vol: 80p. (Odysseys in Technology). Creative Company/Creative Education. Jan. 2020. Tr. $44.20.
Gr 7 Up –This informative series covers hot topics in technology. Autonomous Vehicles explores the genesis of self-driving cars from a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency challenge that morphed into a race to safely and responsibly create driverless cars. Driverless cars use artificial intelligence; they can only deal with situations they’ve been programmed to handle. But how do innovators overcome that protocol? Computer Science takes a deep dive into computational thinking from Ada Lovelace to the present, showing how government research has spurred along advances in technology. Drones and Robots mention many of the same ethical issues brought up in the other volumes—can we ever give AI fuller control while trusting it to have what we call common sense? This well-written and well-organized series addresses concerns fully and thoughtfully while striking a hopeful tone. VERDICT Highly recommended and ideal for researchers.


Think the future’s so bright, you’ve gotta wear shades? If you’re doing book orders with a laptop outside, we’ll sum this up quickly so you can enjoy your day. Not only will patrons learn how to create content, they’ll learn how to be good digital citizens with “Digital Insiders” (Rosen/Gareth Stevens) and “Create and Share: Thinking Digitally” (Cherry Lake). Still not sure they’re on the right path? Grab “Garfield’s Guide to Digital Citizenship” (Lerner) to teach those internet etiquette skills. “Sci-Fi Tech” (Capstone) and “World of Robots” (Black Rabbit/Bolt Jr.) inspire young readers to think about the possibilities, while “It Changed the World” (Rourke/Bridges) shows just how far humanity has come. “High Security” (Capstone) and “All Aboard” (Jump!/Bullfrog) add those little extra bits that make nonfiction as fun as it is informative. “Artificial Intelligence” (North Star Editions/Focus Readers) and “Odysseys in Technology” (Creative Company/Creative Education) will keep ­researchers eager and engaged.

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