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The Way Things Work
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The Way Things Work

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,719 ratings  ·  82 reviews
From Levers To Lasers, Cars To Computers- A Visual Guide To The World Of Machines.

A comprehensive, instructive and entertaining reference book for readers of all ages. From hologram to hovercraft, parachute to parking meter, a prize-winning author's brilliantly conceived guide to the principles and workings of hundreds of machines.
Hardcover
Published January 1st 1988
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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Best Children's Books
316th out of 3,071 books — 4,557 voters
The Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Non-Fiction (non biography)
184th out of 2,846 books — 4,858 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steven
May 10, 2007 Steven rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book taught me more about technology than my first five years of school, and that isn't intended as a criticism of the public educational system. I'm betting my dad got tired of the perpetual, "Why?" and "How?"'s, and decided this book would be the best way to simultaneously teach me and maintain his sanity.

Where else can a child be taught to understand the simple machines, fission, and how to pick a lock?
Mckay chandler
the mammoths in this book are very funny. this appears to be a engineering textbook,(it probably is,) but IF it is, than it's a heckuva lot better then the stuff they feed us in science textbooks these days... don't read it till your OUT of stuff to read or you'll think this is actually a novel (trust me, on this one, it's not)
Kelly Ramsey
The way things work mr. David Macaulay is finding new ways to work in the world. He wants to savve his information on a microchip, but students for today would use an USB drive. It changed the way technology us used for computersm cars, and watches.

Science/ technology ( large Group)-listening Game
After trasmitting simple information from one student to the last information can be diffrent. So it is very imporant and imparitive that the student listen carefeully.

Game " The picnic Game"

The teache...more
Richard Whitehurst
Me and brockli's favorite part was the toilet. Our toilet was broken and so we learned how 2 fix it. After it was fixed.
Janet
OMG yuck. Millions purchased, dozens read.
Otis Chandler
One of my favorite books as a kid!
Will Todd
I liked it...

...but not as much as I had hoped.

You see, I DO have a genuine interest in learning "How Things Work", and while this book was a noble attempt to present the answers in an entertaining way, it often didn't accomplish its fundamental goal for me. In other words, the explanations often didn't succeed in teaching me how the item in question actually worked.

This is partly due to space limitations, i.e., each concept having to be presented basically on one page. For many, I could have us...more
Matthew
This book is AWESOME! As a Technology Teacher, I use this as well as the NEW way things work to create assignments. Wonderful resources that kids will spend entire class periods looking through. I call it an engineer's dream book - as it explains how things work very practically and with great pictures (and woolly mammoths!)...From toilets, to nuclear warheads.
Gray .K
This book is great many people say that this books is boring but I find it extremely interesting to learn about how thing work. The truth is that everything around me is based off of extremely simple concepts. This book will appeal to anyone that is dying to learn about the how technology works.
Jeremy
Man, what a great book. I spent countless hours of my childhood pouring over this book, with it's illustrations, cartoons, and diagrams. It is a primer on how much of the world around us actually works, explained in simple, yet detailed and undiluted language.
Elizabeth S
I've read many sections of this book many times, but this is my first read-through from beginning to end. Amazing. At times I thought it was skipping important issues, and at other times I wished it explained some basic things better. Then I realized that this was more a revelation of my background in Physics rather than Engineering. I really gained an appreciation for what Engineers do when they take a physical theory and turn it into something practical and useful.

I love the use of the Woolly...more
Sabera
I came across a copy of this book many years ago and found it rather engrossing as it answered some of the types of questions children often asked back then! Newer editions of this book are also available as a CD-ROM that explores newer digital technology, the history of machines, great inventors and scientific principles. It charts inventions from 7000 BC almost to the present day as well as the scientific principles behind them.

However, as we are becoming deeper immersed in the digital age, i...more
Tim Crabtree
An engineer's dream book - it explains how things work very practically and with great pictures (and woolly mammoths!)
Alain Aguilar
I find this book to be very useful in seeing how everyday objects work.I find it is a little outdated,but I give it 5 stars because I loved this book as a child.
Nooilforpacifists
As a child, TWTW was endlessly fascinating, provoking scores of questions that no doubt annoyed my parents.
Jared
Masterfully written.
Sophia Ungar
Alright, so I didn't read the whole thing, just most of it, but I liked knowing how screws and planes work. It is really good because the "mammoth scenarios" let you understand in a (slightly) realistic and amusing manner, then the other parts elaborate and explain on the topics.. I highly recommend this book to children and adults alike, unlike many books
Brian
I remember reading this in grade school. The author required exactly two pages full of woolly mammoth cartoons to teach me how a CD player works. I later explained the technology to my dad. I still remember the amazing feeling of realizing that a CD player is not magic. This book inspired my love of taking things apart and understanding what goes on inside expensive boxes.
Benjamin Page
This book is a great way to give children a basic understanding of many of mankind's machines, while fostering an even greater interest in engineering.
Sean
What makes this book so wonderful is not its description of the workings of so many tools and machines, but its straightforward illustrations of everything that Macaulay describes. He presents basic descriptions of the workings of many machines, including: airplanes, the automatic transmission, spacecraft, computers, zippers and toilets.
Annie
My uncle was always so thoughtful in his gifts to me. This was one of my first gifts from me. This book sparked my interest in researching the "why" and "how" behind everything we take for granted for in this complex world and it is a great book for kids. Highly recommended! Being interested in art, it also inspired me and influenced my style.
Rachel
I think it's safe to say that this is a great book for any kid, whether they're interested in science and technology or not. I certainly wasn't interested, and yet I loved paging through this book, plus I also remember that it was very popular with my classmates as well. It's just a fun book (that will--shhhh!--teach you something).
Tylernickl
I think I will always be kind of nostalgic for this book, since I could hardly put it down as a curious ten year old. I found it again recently and thought I'd thumb through it only to get sucked into Macaulay's humor and intelligence again. I still marvel at the innovations and physics that Macaulay makes so accessible.
jacky
This is one of the books that the librarian book talked and then everyone in my class wanted to read. I remember skimming through it and looking at some of the things. I also have memories of another book that told you all the names to parts of things, but I don't think it was this book.
Angela
Mar 14, 2008 Angela rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 4-99 year olds
Recommended to Angela by: Part of my schooling
This is the funniest book to learn how things work. as in vices, knail clipper ... But what makes it funny is they try making things work with a Mammoth dinosaur with cave men. They have their Trials and error and figure it out in the long run. This is a great learning book for age 4-99
Colin Dabritz
A timeless classic, perfect for children curious about the world.
Eve
I learned a lot in the beginning, with the mechanical devices. I didn't really follow the electrical/computer stuff, and throughout I thought that he put too much emphasis on automobiles. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. The drawings are funny and sweet.
Kyle
Apr 20, 2007 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: curious kids
Shelves: childhood
Holy crap did this book change my life. What kid doesn't want to know how those simple every day parts of life work? Did you know they now make DVDs of this stuff? Can't be the same as having the huge book in your lap with the cute illustrations and all.
Robert
This is another book from my parents. This was a huge book when it came out. I found that my students enjoy looking through this, particularly the boys.

The diagrams are awesome. In the days before the Internet, this was a really awesome book.
Jamie Belanger
A great reference book, packed full of information and diagrams. This book is probably not meant to be read cover-to-cover, but I did that anyway. I'm insanely curious by nature, and plan to keep this book on my shelf as reference material.
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David Macaulay, born in 1946, was eleven when his parents moved from England to Bloomfield, New Jersey. He found himself having to adjust from an idyllic English childhood to life in a fast paced American city. During this time he began to draw seriously, and after graduating from high school he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). After spending his fifth year at RISD in Rome on...more
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