Robots and children’s stories have gone together for decades, but in the modern era, it’s no wonder that robot books for kids are more popular than ever. A strong candidate for the first fictional robot comes from children’s fiction, before the word ‘robot’ itself even came into use — Tik-Tok, a mechanical character in L. Frank Baum’s book Ozma of Oz, published in 1907. Today, well over 100 years later, we’re living in an age of revolutionary AI and breakthroughs in the field of robotics, from Boston Dynamics’ dancing robots to AI generators that can create images from your dreams (or your nightmares). For children growing up today, storybook robots represent the near future or even the present, not the far-future sci-fi that they embodied for previous generations.
There are plenty of robot books for kids of all ages. Fiction and nonfiction, practical and fantastic, there’s a robot story for every reader. Some are based on real-world robots, like the Mars Rovers, while others take the concept of a helpful robot and run with it, creating a brand-new world. Whether your young robot fan is still into picture and board books, or reading independently, there’s a robot-themed book ready for them. Here are some of the best ones!
Curiosity: The story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum
This beautiful picture book tells the story of Curiosity, the Mars Rover who landed on the surface of the planet in 2012. Told from the perspective of Curiosity, the book describes this famous robot’s journey right from the beginning, from her creation to the work she carried out gathering data on Mars. Children will love following Curiosity as she explores this new world.
Robot Girl by Malorie Blackman
Robot Girl is a punchy story by veteran sci-fi writer Malorie Blackman. In this story, Claire is excited to find out about the latest project that her scientist dad has been working on, but things quickly go wrong. Published by dyslexia-friendly publisher Barrington Stoke, this story is ideal for young readers who like short stories with high stakes.
National Geographic Readers: Robots by Melissa Stewart
Kids who want to learn more about real-life robots will love this nonfiction book, full of photos and facts that explain the science and history of robotics. National Geographic: Robots is a useful resource for a kid doing a school project or class report on robots, and it will also give budding roboticists plenty of information and inspiration.
Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing, illustrated by Christine Almeda
In this middle grade novel, Maya is just about to start the 5th grade and her already-bad anxiety gets even worse when she discovers that she’s going to be in a different class than her best friends. However, when she finds and repairs the robot Ralph, an abandoned science project, Maya finds that she’s able to make new friends and take charge of her own life.
The Extraordinary Colors of Auden Dare by Zillah Bethell
Set in a dystopian future where water is in very short supply, this middle grade book follows young Auden and his classmate Vivi. After Auden’s scientist uncle dies, the two friends follow clues he has left and discover a robot, Paragon, who may be able to change the world. Auden and Vivi realise that Auden’s uncle’s death may not have been an accident and that they have to protect Paragon from dangerous forces threatening society.
Layla and the Bots: Happy Paws by Vicky Fang, illustrated by Christine Nishiyama
First in a fun chapter book series, Layla and the Bots: Happy Paws follows the adventures of young Layla and her robot friends, who create inventions to solve problems whenever they’re not rocking out. In this story, Layla and her mechanical pals decide to try to save the local amusement park by creating a bunch of new rides, especially for local dogs. Kids who are starting to read on their own will love these cute short stories and maybe even be inspired by the inventions.
Robots, Robots Everywhere! by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Bob Staake
Very young kids who love robots will adore this board book. Full of brightly-coloured illustrations, children and parents will love looking through the scenes and spotting different kinds of robots doing all sorts of fun activities.
A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga
Another story inspired by the Mars Rover project, this middle grade book tells the tale of the fictional Resilience. Built for the Mars exploration programme, Resilience unexpectedly develops emotions and must draw on all his courage and ingenuity to deal with the hostile environment of this new planet.
Welcome to Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwartz
If you have a robot-loving kid and need a rainy day activity, look no further than Welcome to Your Awesome Robot! This interactive book follows a mother and daughter as they build a robot out of recycled materials, while giving guidance for kids and parents on how they can follow along.
If your child’s robot-themed reading list makes you want to read up on robots yourself, try our list of 10 Innovative Sci-Fi Novels About Robots and AI. For kids who want a broader range of selections for sci-fi reading, check out 25 Universe-Expanding Science Fiction Books for Kids.