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Alexander Graham Bell for Kids: His Life & Inventions with 21 Activities

Alexander Graham Bell for Kids: His Life & Inventions with 21 Activities

Mary Kay Carson
Chicago Review Press
144 pp.
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Alexander Graham Bell is best known for his invention of the telephone, but this wasn’t the work that he found most rewarding. Teaching deaf students to finger spell and to speak, using the visible alphabet developed by his father, was his lifelong passion. Bell’s grandfather voice trained students with speech problems such as stuttering, and his mother had severe loss of hearing. His interest in speech and sound was critical to many of his future inventions.

In Alexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mary Kay Carson weaves together key events and influences that shaped Bell’s life, and in turn how he shaped the world around him. Although he was a poor student in school, Bell spent his life learning from the written works of others, from ongoing tinkering and innovation, and from the many colleagues and connections he made throughout his life.

Bell’s invention of the telephone has largely overshadowed his many other contributions, such as his work on early versions of the phonograph and metal detectors and his work on airplanes and hydrofoil boats. These inventions often brought him into conflict with other inventors of the day, including Thomas Edison and Elisha Gray.

The book includes many sidebars to explain the scientific principles behind each invention, as well as 21 hands-on activities, that enhance the narrative. But perhaps the true value of the books comes from all the little stories, previously unknown to me, that show the richness of his life, such as Bell’s role in connecting Helen Keller with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and Bell’s role in supporting Science magazine during its early years.

About the author

The reviewer is a senior editor at Science.