I find that scientific picture books can be read, enjoyed and learned from by older kids who might think that reading picture books is too babyish. (And to be fair, while my 12-year-old reads them, he refuses to take them to school.) One of the best, in my opinion, is Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci. This picture book pairs da Vinci’s prototype drawings on one page with the realized invention on the opposing page. So for example, the Neo page is 1903 – the Wright Brothers inventing the airplane, while the Leo page, across from it, has da Vinci’s sketches for a man-powered aircraft. The sentences are simple, but the book is packed with information – did you know, for example, that da Vinci came up with idea for the contact lens scuba equipment and maybe even the bicycle?
If you’re kid gets really into Leo, take it one step further: my daughter loves Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself. If you have a ton of money and you’re not in the mood for inventing, you can always take a trip to Amboise where Leo once lived; you can see his old quarters and there’s a garden out back where many of his inventions have been built for the first time. It’s actually very cool and definitely worth a look.