Alumni create engineering-themed children’s books


Photo Courtesy of Illinois STEM Education Initiative

Taylor Tucker, a graduate from Illinois, created a children’s book about car engineering. This book was released May 10.

By Aliza Majid, Assistant News Editor

Two recent alumni published a book on April 22, called “Jenny Saves a Convertible” to inspire young children to explore the world around them through an engineering lens.

“Jenny saves a convertible is about a young girl who works with her grandpa on cars, and you follow her journey as she learns about them,” said Taylor Tucker, recent graduate and the author of the book. “While she works with him, she has a dream of fixing up and driving her own car, and you get to see how that plays out in the story.”

The book came to be through the Illinois Engineering Ambassadors program that hopes to inspire children and encourage them to become curious about the engineering world.

The University will distribute the books in local schools to develop conversations around the creative nature of engineering.

“We thought one great way to kind of help kids engaged with engineering when we weren’t in the classroom would be to start providing materials that they could really engage with at any time,” said Jennifer Amos, co-founder of Engineering Ambassadors. “So we started to think about writing children’s books that focus on engineering topics.”

This children’s book initiative was the start of many as the program plans to continue developing more books representing different perspectives through an engineering lens from future student collaborators.

These projects emerge after undergraduate students in graphic design and engineering are partnered and create a compelling STEM-based storyline for children with complete creative control. 

“We’re trying to represent both broad areas of engineering as well as broad perspectives in the people that we feature in the book,” Amos said. “I hope that each of (the students) would just inspire people to be more curious about the world around them and to consider engineering or start to talk about engineering, maybe with their families or with their teachers.”

The overall theme for these books is to inspire children and encourage them to pursue their dreams by diving into their curiosities and exploring the world. This goal resonated with the creators of the books so much that they decided to self-publish the book to make the material available to other children who could benefit from these lessons.

“We thought that we should really make this accessible to more readers if possible, and the EA and the local schools were a great place to start,” Tucker said. “Once we saw what it had actually turned into that’s when we started thinking bigger, and that’s what eventually led us to self-publishing through Amazon.”

The two are now working together on a solo project with a similar theme of overcoming difficulties and facing one’s fear to continue this narrative and develop more inspirational stories for children.

“We’re working on a new book that is along that same theme of helping children overcome their fears and obstacles through science, and this book is more on childhood anxiety and how can we teach children about thunderstorms to make them less afraid of them,” said Nicole Dowling, illustrator of the book.

Engineering Ambassadors plans to continue releasing these children’s books that encourage kids to look at the world around them and face their fears through a STEM-based lens to inspire kids to pursue these fields potentially.

“I think kids are always going to be kind of seeking out that kind of reassurance anywhere that they can find it, and this is another great resource for them to use,” Dowling said. “Even if just one child reads this book and suddenly thinks they could go into engineering or think thunderstorms aren’t that scary is what makes our book so special.”


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