Inside: Inspiring children’s books about careers to help children think about the age-old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Perfect for kicking off conversations around career day.
Adults love asking kids “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a fun question that inspires big dreams! And the answer to that question can come from a lot of different sources, including some really fun and inspiring career books for kids.
Beyond the important lessons for kids, these books are ones that may even have your wheels turning as an adult!
Who says that we are all the way grown-up because we have kids? As a career coach, mom, author, and big fan of lifelong learning, I definitely don’t think so.
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Fun & Inspiring Children’s Books About Careers
Ready to dive in?
Here are some of my favorites perfect for preschool graduation, kindergarten graduation, high school graduation, and every day in between. Give the gift of big dreams and the confidence to go for them!
(Then go gift yourself the same thing with these career books for adults.)
Belinda Baloney Changes Her Mind is a story about a little girl trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. She has lots of big dreams, but can’t seem to pick just one.
An engineer, the President, a knitter of coats? A firefighter, a farmer, a sailor of boats! When Belinda starts to get worried that she doesn’t know how to pick just one job, her brother helps her learn an important lesson. Growing and learning can take a lifetime, and Belinda Baloney can change her mind!
This rhyming book filled with fun illustrations is perfect for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school-aged children. Kids will love exploring along with Belinda and be inspired to dream big dreams of their own.
Plus there is a matching coloring book perfect for gifting!
Ada Twist, Scientist (now a series on Netflix) is one of my favorite children’s books about careers, but also one of my favorite books period. Ada rocks!
It’s adorable and rhymey, but also gets right down to brass tacks about how to help kids learn and develop their career interests. Where does that all start? With asking questions! Lots and lots of questions.
Young Ada has lots of questions about how the world works, and while it can sometimes drive her parents bonkers, they learn to embrace this quality as the mark of a great future scientist. Exploring the world, exploring careers. LOVE IT!
If you like Ada Twist, Scientist see also Rosie Revere, Engineer, and other fantastic books by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts.
My kids received What Do You With An Idea? for Christmas and I got really intense about it. They enjoyed it too, but my career coach pep talks that followed each reading probably could have been toned down.
The concept of this book is that your ideas are part of you and while they may be scary to share with others, they could change the world. The idea is represented as a character instead of something intangible which brings so much life to the thoughts bouncing around in our heads.
What Do You Do With an Idea? is one of my favorite career books for kids because while the other career exploration books give concrete examples of possible jobs that already exist, this one is like an intro to entrepreneurship. Kids are super creative naturally, and What Do You Do With an Idea? helps encourage that instinct.
The pros of What Do People Do All Day? as a career book for kids – it shows the characters doing a range of different jobs and earning money to buy things. It’s great for the “money doesn’t grow on trees” message. What Do People Do All Day? also shows how people work in different environments and how their work can be interrelated with others.
The cons – this book was written in the 1950s so be prepared to switch up some pronouns on this one if you want to avoid the intense gender norming.
All of the female characters in What Do People Do All Day? are homemakers with the exception of one nurse. There is nothing wrong with either of these jobs – at all! But I would like to see some female representation in the other jobs they talk about too – a police offer, shop owner, construction worker, etc.
Maybe they will do an updated version with a stay-at-home dad and a female chef. I’d buy that.
Switching gears, A Is for Awesome!: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World is a career book for kids all about breaking down the glass ceiling. Kids learn about Amelia Earhart, Malala, Beyonce, Georgia O’Keefe, and other ladies out there crushing it in their respective fields.
The pros of this one are twofold. 1) Kids can do some serious career exploration by seeing the options available to men and women. 2) Young girls, in particular, get exposure to female pioneers and role models.
Plus the illustrations are fantastic and the book includes quotes from many of these accomplished women. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!
Our family won a set of the Who Was? chapter books from the local library and they are amazing.
The Who Was? books are mini-biographies of famous athletes, scientists, explorers, actors, and politicians. Each book starts with a quick overview of “Who was (insert name here)?”. Then they dive into the details of the person’s life and how they worked hard to achieve their big career goals.
My 4-year-old’s favorites from the Who Was? series so far are Who Was Neil Armstrong? and Who Was Marie Curie? Perhaps we have a STEM enthusiast in our house? In any case, exposure to chapter books AND career exploration. That’s a win.
Did you know that Weird Al Yankovic is a children’s book author? True story!
In a super funny and silly way that has always been Weird Al’s signature, When I Grow Up teaches kids to bring their imagination to the world of work. Software Engineers didn’t exist 50 years ago, so why couldn’t whatever amazingly creative idea kids have today really exist in the future?
Bonus: It’s always fun to find a book you and your kids will laugh through!
This wouldn’t be a post about career books for kids without some Seuss.
Sure, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! doesn’t outline a specific career path, or even give any concrete options for career choices, but that’s not the point. Oh, the Place You’ll Go! teaches kids about trying, failing, and trying again.
And when a kid learns from his mistakes, takes chances, and goes after his dreams – well, that kid is going to move mountains!
He also might tell you “Mommy, you’re only a little bit of a failure. Daddy failed a lot.” But that’s a story for another time.
Former school teacher, Julia Cook, knows exactly how to talk to kids about careers!
What Shoes Will You Wear? has to make the list of best children’s books about careers because of all the opportunities for kids to imagine future jobs, learn about career clusters, and think about embracing their natural personalities in their future careers.
Of course, we need a board book on the list! Enter ABC for Me: ABC What Can She Be?: Girls can be anything they want to be, from A to Z!
This adorable children’s book about careers is for the tiny readers in your life, boys and girls alike. Let’s teach all our children from a young age that boys AND girls can do anything.
Big points for some fun alphabet learning along the way too!
More Children’s Books About Careers
My original list of 10 children’s books about careers has been expanded! Here are 15 more favorites perfect for career day and everyday inspiration.
19. Career Day
Get Your Career On!
So to the kid who has a knack for making people laugh, the kid who wants to know how things work, the kid who has an ear for music, and the kid who has absolutely no idea what she wants to be when she grows up – there is a career out there for you.
Maybe several careers over your lifetime!
Figuring how what you want to be when you grow up is a lifelong process and exploring the possibilities is all part of the fun. Get your kiddos started on the journey of career exploration with some of the career books for kids from this list, and let me know if you have other favorites!
Feeling inspired? Head over to Part II for some career development books for the grownups.