Creating Innovators

The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World

This book offers a strong argument for developing an innovation-driven economy. Wagner looks in depth at what we all — parents, employers, teachers — must do to encourage our youngest citizens to be creative, a necessity for the growth of innovation. A review of the book is available.

288 pages. ©2012.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted November 23, 2021


This was an insightful read to think outside the box on traditional education strategies.


Review posted November 15, 2021


Creating Innovators is a book that is a call to action to involve parents, students, teachers and administrators into cultivating more creative and inspired students. I highly recommend this book as a read because of the stories of teachers that inspired innovators through their own innovations in teaching. The book discusses several examples of schools and programming that foster innovation in students. The book does a good job of outlining the most essential qualities of a successful innovator which are curiosity, collaboration and integrative thinking. I especially liked the stories of the teachers and mentors that inspired and unlocked the innovation potential in these students. Everyone involved in a child’s education should, “…encourage their children’s intrinsic motivation – their curiosity, imagination, and concern for the world around them.”

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Review posted November 5, 2021


Excellent read for parents and educators!


Review posted April 6, 2021


I did not love the format of this book. There are multiple “video cues” in each chapter, as if the book is a presentation instead of a book, which detracted from my reading experience. And by the time I got around to reading the book, the site didn’t even come up. So what am I missing out on?


Review posted March 1, 2021


I was drawn to this book as a parent looking for advice. I often feel it is my responsibility to provide resources and opportunities for my kids, which more often than not comes at a hefty price I can't afford. I liked the practical advice I pulled from the text that any parent can use to foster creativity and innovative thinking.


Review posted November 19, 2020


I enjoyed the insight I gained from this book. I would recommend it.


Review posted November 3, 2020


Overall a good read! Enjoyed the format and the video cues. It was a different way to look at things and I was more looking for an early educational type of book. Still, very eye opening as a parent and educator


Review posted October 28, 2020


Good information on the mindset needed to lead in your field, perhaps a bit too focused on financial success and technology, but adaptable to most fields


Review posted September 2, 2020


Excellent book that engages the mind. A must read.


Review posted May 26, 2020


A thought-provoking exploration of how innovators can be nurtured. This is a timely topic that needs more attention. Most books on creativity focus on creative techniques, not creating the environment for innovation. Organized around the recurring themes of play, passion and purpose. He provides detailed profiles of several innovators that discussed the approaches that their parents used, how they were educated, and their projects/passions. These were fascinating since this is typically not focused on in biographies and was more viewed from the parent’s perspective. This is not just STEM. Several of the examples are built around social entrepreneurship. He also comments on the characteristics that deter innovation. Current education systems are not organized for the skills that are needed for innovation. And the fixed nature of our school system does not easily accommodate innovators. He describes several innovative schools that have more specific resources, including High Tech High, Upper Valley Educators Institute, Olin College and PBL Works. Three key takeaways for me were: 1) Let students explore ways to find their passion as a method to develop their intrinsic motivation, 2) Remember to give permission to students to break the mold, and 3) Knowledge and information are becoming commodities. The more enduring things to teach are problem solving and entrepreneurship skills. For me as someone that came from the high-tech industry to teaching, it was inspiring that someone was starting to look into this aspect. It is important for our society that both education and business to pay more attention to this.


Review posted January 2, 2020


A great book on how typical parenting and educational styles stifle innovation and creativity. Really interesting discussion on how we can change education to meet our world's increasing demand for innovation-driven young people in the workforce.


Review posted November 13, 2019


Great book! A must read for anyone impressing on the life of a youth.


Review posted October 5, 2019


I like the idea that that book brings up that innovation comes out of play, passion and purpose. The interviews were interesting. The authors commentary on today's over parenting made sense. Some parts of the book were a little redundant though.


Review posted October 5, 2019


I thought this book was worth reading. I am a graduate student in human development and I thought what the author had to say regarding encouraging children's innovation was interesting (albeit a tad repetitive between the stories).


Review posted June 21, 2019


This book provided great insight to the things we tend to overlook. Teaching is more than just reading, writing, and math and that is what “Creating Innovators: the making of young people who will change the word” reminds us. Great read for a wonderful reminder!


Review posted May 22, 2019


My absolute favorite book from Ford Foundation. A great inspiration to think outside of the box.


Review posted February 20, 2019


This is an EXCELLENT resource!


Review posted January 28, 2019


Well researched. Some parts redundant, but overall useful.


Review posted December 29, 2018


Very informative. I really enjoyed it!


Review posted September 21, 2018


Overall it was a helpful book, examples were helpful.


Review posted September 7, 2018


This book inspires me especially in my role as a Librarian. I have been trying to share this book and author with various community members targeting those who are trying to make an impact on youth in the small economically challenged rural town I work in. I really love the Video Cues throughout the book.


Review posted July 28, 2018


All to often we educators are restricted to teaching to standards to pre-developed curriculum. This can act as a barrier towards developing and supporting young creative people in the classroom. everyday we must remind ourselves why we are there, to support the student. One thing American education continues to excel in, above the rest of the world if individualized thinking and creativity. We need to ensure that we continue to foster and develop a ingenuitive and creative next generation.

Kevin Wright

Review posted April 30, 2018


This book was very interesting, useful and encouraging.


Review posted April 25, 2018


This book took me a while to read, but well worth it! I am noticing that kids that create through my STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) projects are performing better on State Standards (Testing). I really enjoyed reading about the actual students that went on to do great things throughout college, and their lives. Very motivating and inspirational.


Review posted March 30, 2018


This book has inspired me to rethink how we educate in America. We are slow to meet the needs of ALL student in the classroom and this book help me rethink what should be America’s next moves.


Review posted February 8, 2018


Goes into detail about what we can do to nurture youths into looking at the world differently and find creative solutions to its problems.


Review posted January 3, 2018


This book explores the importance of developing a culture of innovation through promotion of collaboration and interdisciplinary problem-solving. To build this capacity in young people, we need to encourage a childhood of creative play. Play, passion, and purpose are the forces that drive young innovators.


Review posted November 8, 2017


This book was not an easy read, but worth it. I like the examples of the preschool from stanford. Very informational


Review posted October 19, 2017


I found it very interesting that China now requires colleges to teach entrepreneurship and k-12's are focusing on teaching creativity. I agree that creating innovators requires us to teach students to be creative. I was specifically interested in the data supporting that innovation is more driven by creativity than scientific research. It is time to put the A back into stem lessons. Creativity and Innovation can be taught and practiced. Motivating students to be creative and problem solve is a challenge that teachers face. I like that this book gave specific feedback. I was confused by the need for all the video clips. While having links to video is a good idea, many of the videos linked to this book seemed like filler. Very few of them added information to the conversation. They restated what was already said and took time away from the book. I really enjoyed the case studies and look into actual teaching styles.

Carla Perry

Review posted June 27, 2017


"Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World," by Tony Wagner. This book has a slow start. The video cues every other page interrupted the flow of the text and seemed more of a marketing tool than helpful information. There were too many mentions of the author's prior books in the first few chapters, and he goes over the material provided in those books although I did not find the information pertinent to the topic of this book. Too many paragraphs were used to set up the TOPIC he indicated he'd cover next, but those paragraphs did not provide enough meat to be an effective precursor of the coming topics he planned to cover. Too much bland, extraneous information I sensed was there to make the book thicker, not better. I wanted information on how to understand and recognize methods to create innovators out of young people, and how to support them in real-life practices since I deal with children who have come out of perilous situations, but without any internal structure of the author's chapters, I was left floundering, wondering where I was and how I could find the specific information the author intimated would be forthcoming. The vague structure of his chapters hindered my learning anything at all. I finally found the book so annoying that I stopped reading at page 100, which is not something I normally do, especially when I am eager to learn what the book can teach me. The back cover blurb and summary, plus the pages of advance praise inside, led me to believe this book would reveal insights in how to encourage the next generation of innovators. Perhaps others can find the gems in this book, but I've given up and I'm disappointed that I've done so.

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Review posted May 23, 2017


A great book to help educators that are wanting to create an environment where children can use their creative juices and have them feel a little bit out of their comfort zone and come up with great ideas that are authentic.


Review posted October 24, 2016


Wagner has written a book that provides many guiding principals both for parenting innovators and creating programs for innovators. This is not a step-by-step process--it's an innovative process--so readers will need to create ways to apply these principals in their own unique situations. This is an easy read with many case studies to look to for inspiration.

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Review posted August 4, 2016


This book had some interesting ideas, but it did seem like a little more of an effort to hop on the 'innovation is hot' bandwagon than a real exploration. There was a frustrating lack of rigor in exploring ways that learning by rote and other 'outdated' approaches to education might balance out with up-and-coming methods.


Review posted June 3, 2016


Interesting read, but not terribly innovating. Another attempt to engender cutting edge education.


Review posted May 8, 2016


This book does not hold all the answers you expect it to hold. There is no silver bullet or smoking gun, nothing that really solves the issues at hand. But Wagner does give a good description of what exactly it means to have 21st century skills. Arguing that we focus on the culture of learning,rather than the culture of school to make fundamental changes to how we educate people.

Review posted April 22, 2016


It is a great book. I have a 15 years old daughter who is in high school, and I strongly believe that what I learned from this book will help to better guide, advice, and support my daughter. Thank you for making it a available.


Review posted March 16, 2016


An important topic, covered excellently!!


Review posted March 10, 2016


Good read!!


Review posted January 26, 2016


I really appreciated reading Creating Innovators. As a former high school teacher with a Masters in Teaching, a parent of 3 elementary-aged kids, and a local policy maker in my small town, it really resonated with me and my place in life. I have a rather innovative 10-year-old daughter and I was inspired by this book to be more purposeful in supplementing her public school education with more creative outlets. In fact, I've since taken action and enrolled her in an upcoming Saturday Academy class at PSU. The first couple of chapters and the last chapter I found the most engaging and instructive for me and my interests. Some of the criticisms of the public schools were too much, in my opinion, and I question whether all innovative kids really need to be rule breakers. But I enjoyed reading the personal stories of the young people profiled. Thank you very much for making this book available to me. I never would have discovered it without your website's exposing me to it! I am a more inspired parent because of it.


Review posted January 20, 2016


The book had great case studies and stats. Reading the chapters though always seemed to be interrupted by the web content. I have no connectivity in my home so I feel I was missing half the story.


Review posted November 23, 2015


Again, great text!


Review posted October 4, 2015


Tony Wagner's Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World stresses the need for innovators and thinkers in society. Through stories of innovators, Wagner shows the importance of nurturing imagination and creativity in education. QR codes link videos the stories. In lieu of using the QR codes, readers can also access the videos at the website, Wagner knows that passion, play and purpose, rather than the outmoded methodologies currently in favor in our schools are what produce innovative thinkers. More specifically, focusing on how we learn rather than on what we learn. Society needs innovators, creative thinkers and problem solvers. They are our hope for the future. Creating Innovators is an excellent introduction to including innovation in education.


Review posted September 19, 2015


The book, Creating Innovators is insightful. I appreciate that they encourage kids to explore instead of achieve. In the school system, so much emphasis is placed on state testing, that teachers are pressured to have their students achieve high scores. The importance of exploring has been lost. The ideas in the book are refreshing. As a family advocate in the school system, I plan an adopting some of the ideas in my teaching.


Review posted May 8, 2015


A good read. Helpful ideas for working with children. Great stories!


Review posted April 22, 2015


As a parent and as someone who is both a 4H leader and instructor to kids in various after school programs; this book brings up many over looked points in the way diffrent kids express their ideas and learn. Many kids are hands on learners, and thats where the science labs, the robotics after school programs will tap into those minds and engage those kids that could be over looked.

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Review posted April 9, 2015


I found this book to be very helpful in coming up with programs for 3 youth leadership camps that we put on at place. We need to create innovation among our young people in order to prepare them to help solve the world's problems.

Bek Hawley

Review posted March 26, 2015


Tony Wagner paints a clear picture of how young people follow a path, to become creative and innovative, both thinkers and doers. This book is for anyone in a position to influence a young person's life; not just family, not only educators, but anyone who's willing to make an investment in the future. To closely paraphrase Wagner, he believes we need to foster critical thinking, creativity, effective communication and an ability to collaborate, "versus merely scoring well on a test"... I could not agree more with his conclusion.


Review posted March 23, 2015


This was an enjoyable and inspirational book to read as an educator. We are constantly bombarded with new testing requirements, yet we fight every day for the right to infuse our lessons with opportunities for student choice and creativity, which is proven as a building block to learning for life.


Review posted February 16, 2015




Review posted February 5, 2015


Wonderfully detailed book!