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October 11, 2018

Great Books for Exploring Careers

International Day of the Girl Career and Work

Eight Books to Celebrate Girls and Career Goals

We love any chance we can get to explore careers with little learners. So, we’ve created a book list that features exciting work opportunities with bright and capable girl characters!

And — for families with boys — don’t shy away from this list of books for your sons! I’m the mom of a six-year-old little guy, and The Watcher (scroll down to read more about it) is one of his very favorite books. Personally, I want my son to know that girls and women can be amazing role models for him. Indeed, I like to think that I am one of those role models (on my best days, at least).

ABC for Me: ABC What Can She Be?: Girls can be anything they want to be

by Sugar Snap Studio / Jessie Ford
Best for: Babies & toddlers

It’s never too early to talk about career paths — or start playing with our ABCs! This book shares a range of careers to tiny readers. And it introduces letters at the same time. From deep sea diver to interior designer, your little one will have the chance to consider many job options.

Children love the bold colors and rich language. Families love the chance to extend learning by talking about people they know who do those jobs!

Ada Twist, Scientist

Written by Andrea Beaty and Illustrated by David Roberts
Best for: Preschool & pre-K family reading and early elementary solo reading

From the same duo who wrote and illustrated Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, Ada Twist, Scientist shares how curiosity and grit help one girl understand how things work.

Kids love that the main story in this book focuses on a very, very stinky smell. Fans of STEM education love how it’s packed with science thinking. Observation, questions, educated guesses and exploration guide Ada’s story. Why we love it: It’s not a book about an amazing role model (though we love those too, as this list shows). Instead, Ada Twist shares how one girl uses science to explore her own world.

Bonus: The publishers have free downloadable activity sheets to go along with the book!

Counting With – Contando Con Frida

Written by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein and Illustrated by Citlali Reyes
Best for: Babies, toddlers & preschool

This bilingual board book doesn’t go deeply into Frida Kahlo’s career. It’s a counting book for babies and toddlers, after all. But it shares her work as an artist. The bright colors and elements, reflective of Kahlo’s work, charm little readers. Families enjoy how the pictures of flowers, portraits and more introduce words — in two languages — to their tiny art fans.

This book is part of a series, Lil Libros. The series aims to introduce culture and language with bilingual first-concept books.

Have an older child who would love to learn about Kahlo’s work? Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown and John Parra is another great book about the artist.

Emmeline Pankhurst (Little People, Big Dreams)

Written by Lisbeth Kaiser and Illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo
Best for: Preschool & pre-K family reading and early elementary solo reading

Have a little one who says “that’s not fair” or “everyone should get a turn” regularly? This book might become a fast favorite! It features Emmeline Pankhurst who fought for women’s voting rights. It has charming drawing and facts sprinkled throughout the book. As they read, children learn how books helped Pankhurst decide to change the world.

Bonus: The Little People, Big Dreams series features a range of real people. Coming out next spring, they’ll even have a book about Maria Montessori — a key figure in early childhood education’s story! From comedians to scientists, there’s surely a biography to match your child’s interests.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

Written by Julia Finley Mosca and Illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Best for: Pre-K and early elementary family reading and elementary solo reading

This rhyming story provides children with a vision for important work in science AND a way to understand how being different doesn’t mean being less than others. Temple Grandin has spent decades redesigning elements of animal husbandry to be kinder. And she is on the autism spectrum. With the help of her mother, she overcame prejudice to achieve great things.

Children who either feel different than others or who have friends and family who do love this book. It provides an example for moving not around but through difference to be successful. One heads-up: families should be prepared for conversations about the source of animal proteins after reading this book.

Katherine Johnson (You Should Meet)

Written by Thea Feldman and Illustrated by Alyssa Petersen
Best for: Early readers

If you’ve seen the film Hidden Figures, then you know Katherine Johnson’s story. She was one of the people who made America’s space program successful. And this book gives early readers the chance to learn how math skills made flying to space possible.

Children love reading about this generally unknown key player in NASA’s work. Families appreciate how the book offers a chance to explore American history and resilience. Plus, Johnson’s story highlights how hard work makes exciting things like space travel possible.

You Should Meet is a great series that gives young people a chance to explore exciting lives. Two other great series are Who Was…? (including a great one about Clara Barton) and National Geographic Readers Bios (check out the Amelia Earhart one).

This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer

Written by Joan Holub and Illustrated by Daniel Roode
Best for: Babies, toddlers & preschool

This board book highlights great women in history. Each one has a mini-bio in the form of a poem and a cute illustration. With diverse women, in terms of identity and career paths, it offers a sweet way to share who women do important things. This is a board book that families can return to well into preschool. And it can also serve as a reason to find more books on favorite women.

Children love the bright illustrations and rhyming biographies. Families love the wide range of heroines.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

– Written and Illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Best for: Pre-K and early elementary family reading and elementary solo reading

The Watcher is a great book for any child who loves animals. Winter begins the story with Goodall’s childhood interest in birds, a great prompt for nature watching with your little. She then follows Jane from her early days in Africa, with struggles and dedication. She finishes the book with Jane’s role as an international advocate for animals.

Little readers will like the images of many corners of the world. Families can use the story as a launching pad for talks about caring for our natural world. Recommended for any child who loves Wild Kratts, zoo visits or quiet observation.

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