National Geographic has been a household name for generations, thanks to its flagship magazine, stunning photography, and exhaustive storytelling from around the world. True to the brand, National Geographic Kids has been reliably putting out some of the best – and most inspiring – kids books on the market today.
Today, I want to take a look at three titles that further that inspiration and help kids ask the age-old question, What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be three things: a firefighter, an archaeologist, and an astronaut. I’ve been fortunate enough to be the first two. The third? Still waiting for that one to come true.
Nevertheless, there are a billion and one jobs out there, and kids in 2018 have never had more options. 100 Things to Be When You Grow Up (by Lisa Gerry) narrows down that list quite a bit.
These are not your typical, run-of-the-mill job options. I mean, there are variations on the standard “doctor, lawyer, dentist” suggestions, but this book is all about getting kids to think outside the box. Helping them see that there are people who get paid to do some truly amazing things.
Mushroom forager? Check. Fight choreographer? Check. Make-up artist, cranberry farmer, and veterinary acupuncturist? Check, check, and check.
Each job gets 2-4 pages of a description, along with full-color photography, interesting fun facts, and plenty of reasons why it might be the job for you. Trust me, I’ve found my life’s calling about 20 times in this book.
Plus, #52 – robotics engineer – put a bulls-eye on my heart.
You Can Be a Paleontologist! narrows the list even further and presents a single job in more of a picture book format. However, this one is written by none other than Dr. Scott the Paleontologist! Fans of Dinosaur Train should know that name well.
Scott Sampson is no actor, though! He’s a real-life dinosaur paleontologist, CEO of Science World British Columbia, and author of the super-awesome How to Raise a Wild Child. (Check out my review of that book here and my chat with Dr. Scott here. And certainly don’t miss the littlest Roarbot’s interview with him!)
The book is basically Paleontology 101 for kids. It targets young elementary-age kids (think kindergarten through 3rd), is written in the first-person by Dr. Scott, and introduces them to what paleontologists do and how they find and study bones.
If you know a little one in the grip of dinomania, this one is a no-brainer. It answers all the burning questions, from Why did some dinosaurs look so strange? to How do I become a paleontologist?
Finally, the Ultimate Explorer Guide (by Nancy Honovich) broadens the scope and helps kids not so much consider specific jobs but realize that there’s an entire world out there, just waiting to be explored.
Last year, I had the pleasure of digging into a couple of National Geographic’s Ultimate Explorer Field Guides, and – let me tell you – they did not disappoint. This book is cut from the same cloth.
It’s roughly divided into Land, Sea, and Sky, and it takes aim at a wide variety of adventures and explorations. On Location pages shine a spotlight on science explorations around the world, Investigate pages feature a hands-on activity that kids can do, Challenge pages present clues and evidence and put you in the shoes of a professional explorer.
There are also pages dedicated to specific (modern-day) explorers and more information than you know what to do with.
Learn how to build a worm castle, compare cultures of West Africa with those of Alaska, read hieroglyphics, identify sharks by their teeth, make a water filter, and discover what an astrobiologist does. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
This book is jam-packed with oodles of great information…and inspiration! So the only real question that’s left is: What do you want to be when you grow up?
(Disclosure: National Geographic provided review copies of these books. All opinions remain my own.)