How-to books are nothing new. They teach readers to cook, tie knots, change the air filters in their cars, speak foreign languages, and more. But a new wave of books aimed at younger readers is working to teach skills and mindsets more through storytelling, and less through step-by-step instruction.
Now, author and designer Carla Diana has taken her passion for technology and put it to use in a children’s storybook that also offers up instructions and applications in the world of 3D printing. By following the story of a robot who is capable of making plastic objects based on its owner’s drawings–along with additional robots that can make metal and printed designs–young readers are exposed to some of the technological applications of 3D printing. Even better, the book features plans and instructions to help the readers make their own 3D versions of some of the objects found in the story, assuming the child has access to a home 3D printer or an account with MakerBot.
Diana is no stranger to trying to spread the word about the capabilities of technology. As a university professor and as the creative head behind the Simon humanoid robot, her passion has long been our robotics future. With this book, she brings the possibilities of 3D printing to an audience who is more likely to take advantage of that technology as they age. Within the book, she also actively encourages readers to “hack” her designs, even giving them prompts along the way to help launch their ability to adapt her objects for their own purposes.
In an interesting twist, this children’s storybook is currently sitting on several top ten rankings on Amazon, but none of those rankings are for children’s books, storytelling, or young readers. It seems that Diana’s intended audience may be reading, but it is the older crowd who are still in awe of 3D printing capabilities who are looking to build their own models.