Do you sometimes think differently than the people around you? Do you like to do things your own way? Do you ever dream of inventing something new, or finding a solution for a big problem?
If so, then maybe you will become an innovator! Innovators are trailblazers. They think outside the box, tackle tough challenges, pursue their passions, and chase their dreams—and in the process, they change our world.
Some innovators are inventors: they tinker, experiment, and design new things. Others combine inventions that already exist or use current technology in original ways. Some innovators are entrepreneurs, bringing new products to millions of people around the world. And some transform and revolutionize the fields they work in by challenging old ways of doing things or approaching problems in a different way.
The innovators in this book started out as inquisitive kids. They were full of questions and hungry for knowledge. Grace Hopper was so curious about how alarm clocks worked that she took apart all seven of the ones in her home. Most of these innovators read voraciously as children: Elon Musk and Bill Gates both read encyclopedias from A to Z!
Many of the things we take for granted in our daily lives exist because of innovators. But people don’t always welcome change, and innovation is often met with skepticism and even scorn. Experts predicted that cell phones would never replace wired phones. The idea that we might send objects into space was considered to be absurd. And flight was seen as preposterous: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,” one famous scientist stated confidently—only eight years before the Wright brothers achieved their first flight.
Innovators are people who make the impossible possible. To do that, they need the confidence and strength to go against the crowd. They need to be persistent, and they can’t afford to worry too much about what people think. So, it is not surprising that innovators often started out as strong-willed and independent-minded children—which wasn’t always easy for their parents and teachers! When Elon Musk was six, his mom said that he was grounded, so he walked the ten miles across town to a birthday party. Steve Jobs was a troublemaker who played tricks on his classmates and was sent home from school repeatedly. And Florence Nightingale liked to question everything—much to the despair of her mother, who thought she should be more obedient.
Although they were very intelligent, these innovators did not always do well in school. Many were
messy, disorganized, or absent-minded; others wanted to work only on the subjects that interested them. Quite a few of them had little in common with other kids their age and cared more about their own ideas than anything else: Jacques Cousteau was a loner, Alan Turing was a daydreamer, and Bill Gates wanted to stay in his room reading all day.
These innovators all started out as little kids with big ideas—and although they often faced obstacles and challenges, they grew up to be adults who pursued their interests with great creativity and passion. Without the innovators in this book, our world would be a very different place. May their stories inspire you to follow your own dreams and blaze your own trail!
Copyright © 2021 by Robin Stevenson; illustrated by Allison Steinfeld. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.