Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Jeffrey Zuehlke
For ages 7 to 10
Lerner, 2007   ISBN: 978-0822565833

Henry Ford was the son of a hard working Irish immigrant farmer. Both his parents believed that their children should do their share of the chores. Unfortunately Henry was not one for working hard if there was an easier way to do things. He loved to tinker with machines and to experiment with things and when he first saw a steam powered vehicle driving down a road Henry insisted on asking the driver how it worked. Clearly Henry was not suited for farm life and when he was just sixteen he left his father’s farm and went to Detroit to try to find a job where he could work with machines.

In Detroit Henry quickly learned a great deal about machines of all kinds. He was particularly interested in a new kind of machine which was powered by using gas instead of coal. Henry worked for almost ten years for the Edison Illuminating Company and working with electricity gave him valuable experience which helped him develop his own inventions. Finally in June of 1896 his Quadricycle was ready. It was his first gas powered vehicle.

In 1901 he built a bigger car which Henry raced against another vehicle. When he won the race it helped put Henry’s name on the map and in 1903 he founded the Ford Motor Company. The first car the company produced was the Model A and it sold well, but it was the Model T which really made Ford famous for it was the first car which was mass produced using an assembly line and it was the first car which the average American could afford. When the Model T first came out in 1908 it cost $850. By 1916 it cost $360 and this price would drop even further a few years later. This price drop was all thanks to Henry Ford’s innovative assembly line production methods.

These inexpensive cars had an enormous impact on the lives of the average American, on people who had not been able to travel or who could not go away from home much until the cars came on the market. This was especially true for people who lived outside the cities. The cars also made it possible for city people to move out into the suburbs for the first time.

This is an excellent introduction to the life and work of Henry Ford. Simply written, it emphasizes how much of an impact Henry Ford’s cars had on America as a whole and how innovative Henry Ford’s ideas were for the time. Though his inventions were remarkable, it was his ideas and his processes which really brought about the most change.

This is one of the books in the “History Maker Bios” series