A Mighty Girl's top picks of the books, pretend play toys, and tool sets to encourage Mighty Girl builders!
Whether you're putting together a bookshelf, wiring a light switch, or swapping a kitchen faucet, there's tremendous satisfaction in building something yourself! However, when you picture a carpentry hobbyist or a construction worker, chances are good the person you picture is male. Girls and women have often been discouraged from picking up tools, whether they're interested in trying some basic home repairs or considering a skilled trade as a career. As a result, the percentage of women in skilled trades jobs has been under 9% nationwide for decades. However, with the rise in popularity of DIY, girls are increasingly discovering that they can design, build, and fix things on their own!
If you'd like to encourage your Mighty Girl to see herself as a potential builder, we've got some great ways to help! In this blog post, we've shared books that give her role models of girls and women who love to build, and toys that encourage young girls to imagine themselves as builders. We've also featured several sets of child-sized tools and easy-to-use beginner kits to get her started on real-life building projects. Whether you want to give her confidence doing home repairs or to support her in a possible career, these options will help ensure she knows that she can build it!
Mighty Girl Books for Budding Builders
This little girl and her family are moving from the city — to build a new one in the country! Mom and Dad have rented a trailer for them to live in while they build the house from the ground up. There are many steps and stages along the way, and lots of ways that she can help. And when the house is done, the family can be proud of what they built together. This book based on author Jonathan Bean's family's real experience, told through the eyes of his older sister, and includes an afterword with photos of the construction process.
When skid steer Kid McGear shows up to join the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site team, the big trucks question whether she's up to the task, and tell her to stay out of the way. Kid knows her value, though, and when Bulldozer and Excavator find themselves trapped at the bottom of a steep hill, she's quick to find a solution (and run the rescue effort.) By the time she's done, the team of trucks is one truck bigger — because when you work as a team, you're more than the sum of your parts! Mighty Girl construction fans will delight as Kid McGear shows that she belongs on the site.
A mother-daughter pair are each preparing for their biggest challenge yet. For the daughter, it's an attempt to prove herself on the pitcher's mound. For the mother, it's executing a big bricklaying job. Both face obstacles, including gender stereotypes and the hard work necessary to achieve your goals. But when they're done, they get to celebrate their victories together! With its simple, direct text and absorbing illustrations, this book celebrates all the things that girls and women can do — and how much more we can do with the support of the people we love.
Maya has been dreaming of the perfect cozy fort in the woods, where she can read, dream, and play — so she decides to turn her dreams into reality! She drafts a plan and gathers supplies, but when she gets to the woods, she realizes that it's difficult to build a fort alone. Fortunately, she discovers some new woodland friends willing to help: the beavers cut down logs, the bears help lift them in place, and the birds help weave branches together. And when they're done, she not only has the fort of her dreams, but also a space where she and her new animal friends can spend time together! This charming, gorgeously illustrated picture book celebrates leadership, creativity, and a can-do spirit.
Sharonda and her mother live in a room in her aunt's house, and everything is getting a bit crowded. Then, their church announces a special gift: they are going to build Sharonda's family a house of their own. As Sharonda watches in amazement, people come together to hammer, saw, measure, and lift. When they're done, there is a house — and when Sharonda moves in, it becomes a home to treasure. Full of energy and life, this book is a celebration of cooperation, generosity, and the joy of building a space that makes a difference.
This father and daughter have a backyard that needs a shed — so it's time to build one! Daddy takes his girl along with him to the lumberyard, where she learns to find straight boards (and gets to choose the shed's latch all by herself.) Then, they get started on the building, with occasional interludes for turning the plywood into a dance floor and choosing not one, not two, but three colors of paint. And many years later, the now-grown daughter smiles as she fixes up the now-peeling shed — with the help of her own son. This charming story, which includes helpful real-life tips for building, is a warm-hearted depiction of a father-daughter bond that grows along with their project.
Meg loves building with boxes, and she always stuns both her peers and adults with what she makes. But then a new kid shows up at Maker School. Simone is a boxitect too — a good one — and it's not long before the two have become fierce rivals. Then the worst happens: the two are paired as a team for the annual Maker Match. Rather than work together, they each take half the materials and build one half of their creation... a plan that ends in disaster. But when they sit down and find a way to combine their talents, it turns out there's nothing they can't do! This funny and realistic story about two girls who realize that they can make amazing things when they work together is sure to inspire a little "boxitecture" in young readers!
Who thinks of a house before it's built? Who uses the big cement mixers in their job? And how do dozens of people come together to turn an idea into a construction site and then into a home? Inspired by the true story of a team of real women who came together from around the country to build a one-of-a-kind home, The House That She Built introduces kids to all the trades and skills that it takes to create a home for someone to love. Kids will meet architects, framers, roofers, plumbers, electricians, designers, and many more along the way! With proceed from sales going to support workplace development initiatives, this book is sure to support a new generation of skilled tradespeople.
Fans of the book Rosie Revere, Engineer will love this fun project book that encourages kids to put their inventiveness and perseverance into practice! In this activity book, there are 40+ things for kids to invent, draw, and make, including designing a better bicycle, building a simple catapult, constructing a solar oven, and more. A simple explanation of the engineering design process, from identifying the problem that needs solving to evaluating whether or not your creation was a success, show kids that invention is rarely a straightforward process, and positive text encourages the owner of the book to see herself like Rosie: inventive and bold!
It takes a lot of people to build a house! Author/illustrator Gail Gibbons introduces kids to all the steps of house construction, and all the professions involved, in this unique picture book. She shows how each trade, from architects to plumbers to carpenters to landscapers — each representing both women and men — does their part. And when they're done, a new family can move in, ready to turn the empty house into a home they love! Young would-be builders will be fascinated to see how workers cooperate to create something special out of an empty lot.
Ellie prides herself on her engineering skills, and loves inventing things in her backyard workshop. So when her best friend Kit's birthday approaches, she's determined to make something — and when she hears Kit's mom saying they're getting her a dog, she knows just what to build: a doghouse. But her plans get more and more elaborate, and soon she's got to enlist help from other kids in the neighborhood — kids who don't always get along. Can she create the doghouse of Kit's dreams and still keep it a secret? This exuberant story includes fun backmatter, including a how-to guide to tools, that will delight would-be engineers.
Carpenter Katie Hughes was often the only woman on a construction site, and she knew that teaching girls to use tools would help. Her non-profit, Girls Build, invites girls ages 8 to 14 to develop confidence and construction skills — and now her first book encourages girls everywhere to do the same! Inside you'll find photos of 45 builder girls, each accompanied by information about her favorite build, her top tips for new builders, and more. Then, check out the how-to guide full of techniques and safety tips for common tools, and use your new skills to create thirteen do-it-yourself projects from picture frames to playhouses. This empowering guide is sure to help a new generation of girls discover they can build anything!
Lou feels squashed and smothered in her grandmother's house, where she shares a room with her mom, so the woodshop-loving girl comes up with a solution: this summer, she's going to build a "tiny house,", which she can put on land she inherited from her dad when he died before she was born. But building a house is tricky (even when it's tiny) and worse, the land might have to be sold to pay off back taxes and fund a move. Fortunately, both Lou's devoted friends and her loving Filipino family are there to help her achieve her dream... even if it doesn't look quite like she imagined. Full of details about Filipino life and culture, this warm story celebrates the true meaning of home and family.
Inspire her dreams of creation with this book featuring biographies of 22 groundbreaking architects, engineers, and landscape designers! Each capsule biography describes that woman's strengths and passions as a child, as well as the challenges they faced as they established themselves in their careers. Intriguing sidebars explore related topics, as well as the landmark events that affected each figure, including the industrial revolution, the women's suffrage movement, and the civil rights movement. This entry in the Women of Action series will fascinate budding engineers!
When girls get building, big things happen! Emily Pilloton founded the nonprofit Girls Garage in 2013, using her background in architecture and construction to help girls get confident with tools as they build real-world projects to help their community. Now, in this book, she provides the same guidance to girls everywhere! This book includes all the information a would-be builder needs, including 175 illustrated tool guides, 21 essential skills, and 11 how-to projects she can try herself. Plus, this 300-page compendium includes encouraging stories from real-life girls and women builders. Part how-to manual, part inspirational guide, this book will give girls confidence that there's nothing they can't plan, fix, or build!
Pretend Play Building and Construction Toys
Whether using the hammer to pound in the nails, or the Phillips and flathead screwdrivers to tighten the bolts, kids love all the do-it-yourself projects that are possible with this set from Green Toys! This 15-piece toolbox play set is made from 100% recycled plastic and manufactured in the USA. Holes on each side of the toolbox fit the nails, bolts, and 2-hole connectors, so kids can build fine motor skills as they practice real-life DIY skills. When playtime's done, organize all your tools in the box, just like a real carpenter!
Even kids love to use power tools! With the Take Apart Airplane from Battat, kids can assemble and disassemble a colorful plane with a power drill that comes with three different bits. With practice, they'll learn how to optimize their work, practicing their fine motor skills and concentration. It's the perfect toy for any child who dreams of building a real plane someday! For another Take Apart set, check out this Take Apart Crane.
Calling all budding carpenters! The Master Workbench play set includes all the tools your would-be builder needs: hammer, saw, screwdriver, wrench, vice, angle, screws, nuts, bolts, gears, links and more. The bench is even height-adjustable so it can grow along with her. Plus, kids will love the bright, cheerful colors. For some extra fun, add Hape's Kids' Wooden Tool Box Set which includes more screws and wood pieces to add to your building play.
Combine power tools and bright colors with this set from Educational Insights! Kids can follow one of the 20 included pattern cards or come up with their own patterns. With 120 bolts in 5 colors, they've got plenty of inspiration in the box. Three different bits fit both the screwdriver and the drill, and then the included wrench helps them get all the pieces out to start all over again.
She's ready to supervise the work site in this play set from Melissa & Doug! This set includes a kid-sized decorative hard hat and a work zone vest complete with reflective tape, real pockets, and a customizable name tag. Add your tool belt with the toy hammer and toy saw so you're ready to work — and don't forget your safety goggles! This set is perfect for any budding builder.
Encourage busy hands to learn to build with a Step2's Real Projects Workshop. This great activity bench includes a conveniently-sized work bench, realistic "wood" foam building pieces, and tools to assemble them. The pieces assemble easily with interlocking notches and holes to add screws and nuts, while the work bench is modeled after real carpentry benches, so she’ll feel like she’s using the real thing. It's the perfect way to encourage your future Ms. Fix-It!
Real-Life Tool Sets and Building Kits
This is a real tool set that's perfect for budding builders! This tool set from Stanley Jr. looks and feels just like Mom or Dad's tools — and they're build to last like them, too. The only difference is that they're scaled down to fit a child's hands. Included are a hammer, No. 1 and No. 2 Phillips screwdrivers, a tape measure, and safety goggles. For even more tools for your budding builder, check out the Stanley Jr. 10-Piece Tool Set.
Build and paint your own bird house to entice birds to your yard with this set from Toysmith! This all-in-one kit includes everything you need to complete and decorate a sweet 6" bird house. The wood pieces are precut so you can easily nail them together. Once assembled, you can decorate your B&B with the four included paints, then attach it to the perfect tree with the included chain. The kit includes wood pieces, four paint pots, paint brush, nails, glue and instructions. It's a terrific rainy- or snowy-day activity to brighten up the day, and she'll be proud to say, "I made that myself!"
Young DIY-ers and builders will love this set of junior tools from Craftsman! These are real steel-forged tools, made to fit smaller hands, that look just like Mom and Dad's. The set comes with 6” slip-joint pliers, a 6” adjustable wrench, 5-1/2” safety scissors, a 12 foot tape measure, two screwdrivers, an 8 ounce stubby claw hammer, and a set of safety glasses. Plus, everything packs neatly into a durable 600 denier polyester bag that's perfect for storage or transport to the job site.
Keep all your repair supplies close to hand with this suede tool belt from Custom Leathercraft! Unlike many toolbelts, this can fit a waist as small as 29 inches, so even tweens and teens can wear it. Two large pockets and one small pocket, as well as a loop for a hammer, ensure you have plenty of space, and the polyweb belt has a quick release buckle for when the job is done.
For a budding engineer or just someone who wants to understand the exciting world of electronics in a new way, Elenco's We Make soldering kit is a must! The included instruction manual teaches you soldering techniques while also teaching you about all the components in the kit. Then you'll build a two-IC FM radio that really works! Included are lead-free solder, a soldering iron, wire cutters and the radio board.