Robots hold a lot of fascination for children. Some are intrigued by the mechanics and aspire to design and build one of their own. Others are more interested in the concept of something that's almost but not quite human, able to move and, in fiction, speak, full of personality but without any innate traits. Books for children about robots explore both of these aspects, offering glimpses at robots in real life as well as fanciful stories to spark the imagination.
For a photo-heavy yet informative tome on the subject of robots both real and imagined, turn to "Robots" by Clive Gifford. The book starts with real-life robots and how they're used here and now, then proceeds to discuss where science might take robotic technology next. The reader is then introduced to fictional robots from movies and other media. Another solid choice for a robot overview is "Robot" by Roger Bridgman from DK Eyewitness Books. This book provides a swift, highly visual overview of the history of robots and robotics for children.
Picture books starring robots appeal to new readers and pre-readers who aren't ready for a fact-filled non-fiction book yet. The Little Golden title "Robots Robots Everywhere" by Sue Fliess pairs lively rhyming text about real-life robots with playful illustrations by award-winning artist Bob Staake. "Boy and Bot" by Ame Dyckman follows the adventures of a boy and his new mechanical best friend. In "Zoe and Robot," a comic-book-style tale by Ryan Sias, Zoe teaches her robot pal how to play pretend. "Robot, Go, Bot!" by Dana Meachen Rau is aimed at first readers and tells a thoughtful tale of a girl who builds herself a robot and then mistreats it.
Chapter books about robots for older readers can be a bit hard to come by, but there are a handful of standouts. "Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover" by Cece Bell introduces high-strung Rabbit and his easygoing friend Robot as they negotiate the perils of an overnight stay. Another pair of buddies shows up in "Monkey and Robot" by Peter Catalonotto. Monkey is playful and sometimes a bit fearful as well, while Robot is calm and reassuring. "The Robot Olympics" by Victor Appleton introduces the classic character of Tom Swift to a new generation. Young inventor Tom Swift is entering his newest creation into the Robot Olympics but an anti-science terrorist group may spoil his chances of winning.
The best thing about robots is that you can build them yourself -- even if you're under 12. For the budding engineer in your life, try "Robots, Androids and Animatrons" by John Iovine. It's a good introduction to the field of amateur robotics and contains 12 do-it-yourself projects. Not aimed specifically at children, this book is best for older kids. "Robotics" by Kathy Ceceri is, by contrast, written with children specifically in mind and offers 20 projects to try as well as a history of robots and their use. "Welcome to Your Awesome Robot" by Viviane Schwartz gives its how-to information in comic-book form. This instructional manual isn't about how to build a working robot but rather how to turn a simple cardboard box into an awesome custom robot suit or costume using old mechanical parts and a lot of creativity.