Apply Today! Careers & Skills | Series Nonfiction

Career options that embrace students of all abilities and talents make up this fall’s series nonfiction.

1611-sms-careerskillsA nationwide focus on college and career readiness for students has teachers and librarians clamoring for resources that present readers with a broad spectrum of potential jobs. These series fit the bill with highly visual volumes. Some pointedly identify STEM or STEAM, while others key in on jobs that serve the community. Classic childhood favorites, such as firefighter, actor, and athlete, also make appearances. By clustering interest areas, kids and teens can see a variety of career paths and work on skills to make their dreams attainable.


Cohn, Jessica. On the Job at a Farm. ISBN 9781634401128; ISBN 9781634401180; ISBN 9781937529819.

––––. On the Job at School. ISBN 9781634401081; ISBN 9781634401142; ISBN 9781937529529.

––––. On the Job in a Restaurant. ISBN 9781634401104; ISBN 9781634401166; ISBN 9781937529543.

––––. On the Job in Construction. ISBN 9781634401098; ISBN 9781634401159; ISBN 9781937529536.

––––. On the Job in the Game. ISBN 9781634401111; ISBN 9781634401173; ISBN 9781937529550.

––––. On the Job in the Theatre. ISBN 9781634401135; ISBN 9781634401197; ISBN 9781937529826.

ea vol: 32p. (On the Job). glossary. illus. index. photos. Red Chair. Sept. 2016. lib. ed. $26.65. pap. $7.99. ebk. $39.99.

Gr 2-5 –Overall, this series is high on incorporating STEM skills but there is an engaging holistic element to it as well. Restaurant compares front-of-the-house (servers, managers) to back-of-the-house jobs (chefs, dishwashers) and highlights related tasks extending to business, marketing, and health. A kid-friendly approach in Farm speaks to those who care for the environment and animals, and traces the food ingredients of a pizza to their agricultural origin. Worker profiles (accompanied by a photo) and anecdotes add authenticity. In the “Supporting Roles” sidebar, associated jobs are described, for example, guards, nurses, and custodians in School. An ending “Extension” section offers activity ideas to spark further involvement (e.g., write a review of a local restaurant). VERDICT A large amount of career offshoots in each interest area targets students of all abilities. Recommended.

Kelley, K.C. Choose Your Own Career Adventure at the Olympics. ISBN 9781634719148; ISBN 9781634719605; ISBN 9781634719834.

––––. Choose Your Own Career Adventure at the Super Bowl. ISBN 9781634719155; ISBN 9781634719612; ISBN 9781634719841.

Rauf, Don. Choose Your Own Career Adventure at NASA. ISBN 9781634719131; ISBN 9781634719599; ISBN 9781634719827.

––––. Choose Your Own Career Adventure in Hollywood. ISBN 9781634719117; ISBN 9781634719575; ISBN 9781634719803.

Reeves, Diane Lindsey & Kelly White. Choose Your Own Career Adventure at the White House. ISBN 9781634719162; ISBN 9781634719629; ISBN 9781634719858.

Reeves, Diane Lindsey. Choose Your Own Career Adventure in the Military. ISBN 9781634719124; ISBN 9781634719582; ISBN 9781634719810.

Vescia, Monique. Choose Your Own Career Adventure on a Cruise Ship. ISBN 9781634719100; ISBN 9781634719568; ISBN 9781634719797.

––––. Choose Your Own Career Adventure on Broadway. ISBN 9781634719094; ISBN 9781634719551; ISBN 9781634719780.

ea vol: 32p. (Choose Your Own Career Adventure). glossary. index. photos. Cherry Lake. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95. ebk. $32.95.

Gr 4-6 –This interactive approach employs a classified ad to hook readers. For example, in Military, an air force pilot must have perfect eyesight and stay cool, calm, and collected in a stressful situation—and be willing to travel overseas. If this job isn’t for you, try army cyber officer! Each volume showcases six jobs that cross disciplines, as in Olympics, where gymnast is followed by graphic designer, who creates logos and costumes, and then venue director, who organizes the needs of a large group of athletes. “Explore It” and “Try It” sections encourage online inquiry and ways to participate vicariously, such as writing a pep talk for halftime in Super Bowl. Another writing activity asks students to imagine what it would be like to work at their favorite job. Uncaptioned photos are decorative rather than informational. The detailed glossary in each title is helpful. VERDICT Less substantive than some, but a good first step for students.

Larson, Kirsten W. The CIA. ISBN 9781607539827; ISBN 9781681510224.

––––. The FBI. ISBN 9781607539834; ISBN 9781681510231.

––––. Federal Air Marshals. ISBN 9781607539841; ISBN 9781681510248.

––––. SWAT Teams. ISBN 9781607539858; ISBN 9781681510255.

––––. U.S. Border Patrol. ISBN 9781607539865; ISBN 9781681510262.

––––. U.S. Secret Service. ISBN 9781607539872; ISBN 9781681510279.

ea vol: 32p. (Protecting Our People). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Amicus. Jul. 2016. lib. ed. $20.95. ebk. $42.80.

Gr 2-4 –Crash! Bang! Yikes! This set uses brief crime scenarios (law enforcement officers best a bad guy or diffuse a dangerous situation) to captivate readers. The format is generally consistent across volumes. Chapters such as “A Day in the Life” describe the secretive nature of CIA agents, the special gear of SWAT teams, or the quick reactions of federal air marshals who pretend to be airplane passengers. “Learning the Ropes” chapters cover training methods, such as close combat, fitness, and high-speed driving in each title. The fast-paced writing style matches the adventuresome nature of these careers, without diminishing the tedious tasks and importance of safety measures. Transitional readers are offered in-text definitions of vocabulary words (hostage, drone, perimeter) in addition to the glossary. Question and answer sections, color blocked facts, and large photos depicting a diverse set of men and women on the job are seen on every page. VERDICT Eye-popping graphics and action-packed stories encourage independent reading while learning career basics.

Miller, Connie Colwell. I’ll Be a Chef. ISBN 9781607537595; ISBN 9781607538585.

––––. I’ll Be a Doctor. ISBN 9781607537601; ISBN 9781607538592.

––––. I’ll Be a Firefighter. ISBN 9781607537618; ISBN 9781607538608.

––––. I’ll Be a Musician. ISBN 9781607537625; ISBN 9781607538615.

––––. I’ll Be a Paleontologist. ISBN 9781607537632; ISBN 9781607538622.

––––. I’ll Be a Veterinarian. ISBN 9781607537649; ISBN 9781607538639.

ea vol: illus. by Silvia Baroncelli. 24p. (When I Grow Up). glossary. Amicus. Jul. 2016. lib. ed. $20.95. ebk. $42.80.

PreS-Gr 2 –Expanding on the age old question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” this series employs cartoon drawings to explore the career-related imaginings of a child (e.g., what it would be like to play a violin solo for a concert performance, or find a T. rex bone on an archeological dig). Baroncelli’s illustrations depict a diverse group of cheerful children as they turn sandbox play into a dinosaur dig, or a collection of stuffed animals into a veterinary office. Speech bubbles contain the narration, and instances of challenging vocabulary (stethoscope, tortellini, percussion) seem incongruous to the toddlerlike appeal of the book, although a words-to-know section in the back offers some help. Each tale ends with a hands on activity, for instance, making a box guitar from a shoebox, wire hanger, and rubber bands. VERDICT A palatable series to bridge the gap between pretend play and real job description and terminology.

Parkes, Elle. Hooray for Nurses! ISBN 9781 512414448.

––––. Hooray for Pilots! ISBN 9781 512414424.

––––. Hooray for Police Officers! ISBN 9781512414400.

––––. Hooray for Teachers! ISBN 9781 512414370.

Waldendorf, Kurt. Hooray for Chefs! ISBN 9781 512414394.

––––. Hooray for Construction Workers! ISBN 9781512414417.

––––. Hooray for Farmers! ISBN 9781 512414431.

––––. Hooray for Veterinarians! ISBN 9781 512414387.

ea vol: 24p. (Bumba Books: Hooray for Community Helpers!). chart. diag. ebook available. glossary. index. photos. Lerner. Nov. 2016. lib. ed. $25.32.

PreS-Gr 2 –Easily identifiable occupations in a community (teacher, police officer, farmer) are featured amid full-page photographs accompanied by simple sentences, about four to six words each. Highly visual, the text here is mainly a caption for the photos of adults engaged in work tasks, such as a pastry chef baking, an officer directing traffic, or a veterinarian tending to a puppy on an examining table. Some photos label parts of a uniform or tools of the trade (wrench, badge, oven mitts) in a diagram. A few bubbled critical thinking questions “Why do construction workers wear tool belts?” can hone inference skills from photo clues. The picture glossary at the end of each volume is small but adequate. VERDICT Familiar job choices that also tap into preschool curricular units on community.

Schuh, Mari. Community Helpers at a Fire. ISBN 9781515723998; ISBN 9781515724094.

––––. Community Helpers at School. ISBN 9781515724001; ISBN 9781515724100.

––––. Community Helpers at the Construction Site. ISBN 9781515724018; ISBN 9781515724117.

––––. Community Helpers at the Hospital. ISBN 9781515723974; ISBN 9781515724087.

ea vol: 24p. (Community Helpers on the Scene). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $16.49. pap. $6.95.

PreS-Gr 2 –Appealing to emergent readers, seven different workers are featured in each title. For example, librarian, janitor, counselor, principal, nurse, teacher, and teacher’s aide are the subjects in School. Full-page photos show a variety of adults in uniform. Some wear a hard hat, stethoscope, or other familiar tools of the trade as visual indicators of their job. Very brief sentences act as captions for the action. Some titles feature children being tended to by smiling nurses, counselors, or aid workers. Despite the uninspiring stock photos, there is a timeless simplicity to this series that will extend its shelf life. In the further information section, a publisher-vetted website and password are offered for guided inquiry. VERDICT A supplemental purchase.

Yomtov, Nel. Combat. ISBN 9781626174337; ISBN 9781681032269.

––––. Counterterrorism. ISBN 9781626174344; ISBN 9781681032276.

––––. Patrolling. ISBN 9781626174351; ISBN 9781681032283.

––––. Peacekeeping. ISBN 9781626174368; ISBN 9781681032290.

––––. Recon. ISBN 9781626174375; ISBN 9781681032306.

––––. Rescue. ISBN 9781626174382; ISBN 9781681032313.

––––. Special Ops. ISBN 9781626174399; ISBN 9781681032320.

––––. Troop Transport. ISBN 9781626174405; ISBN 9781681032337.

ea vol: 24p. (Military Missions). further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Bellwether. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $25.95. ebk. $22.95.

Gr 3-7 –Opening with an intense action scene, each title explores a specific type of mission and the roles of the soldiers involved. For example, in Counterterrorism troops sneak in a bunker to remove weapons from the enemy and in Peacekeeping they maintain a safe zone for villagers. The text offers the “why” of military involvement or intervention as well the “how” and strongly emphasizes the importance of teamwork and careful planning. The narrative appears as captions above or below color photos. The images come in a variety of sizes, some large and some small (or inset). Fact boxes peppered throughout show maps, weaponry, and combat gear. While the sentences are simple, they are laden with military terms; readers must rely on context clues and the glossary for backup. VERDICT Military buffs will flock to these combat-related titles.

Middle to High School

Duke, Shirley. STEAM Jobs in Forensics. ISBN 9781681917429; ISBN 9781681918433; ISBN 9781681919355.

Rayes, Ray. STEAM Jobs in Photography. ISBN 9781681917436; ISBN 9781681918440; ISBN 9781681919362.

Rosenberg, Kenneth. STEAM Jobs in Game Development. ISBN 9781681917412; ISBN 9781681918426; ISBN 9781681919348.

Ross, Curtis. STEAM Jobs in Marketing. ISBN 9781681917405; ISBN 9781681918419; ISBN 9781681919331.

ea vol: 48p. (STEAM Jobs You’ll Love). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $35.64. pap. $10.95. ebk. $35.64.

Gr 4-7 –These volumes support the notion that many STEM jobs also incorporate the ability to draw, visualize, reconstruct, photograph, and animate. Forward-thinking readers will see the eclectic career possibilities derived from their love of video games, digital photography, advertising, crime scene investigation, and more. The text is superimposed onto photos of techie tools and people at work. Pages are also peppered with facts bites and graphics emphasizing the STEAM aspects of the job. An introductory page of “Before and After” reading activities offers a textbook walk, content vocabulary, and comprehension or content mastery questions at a fifth grade level. VERDICT A cool challenge to traditional career categories, highly recommended to get students thinking about careers that integrate their artistic talents.

Green, Robert. Careers If You Like Writing. ISBN 9781682820100; ISBN 9781682820117.

Kallen, Stuart. Careers If You Like the Arts. ISBN 9781682820087; ISBN 9781682820094.

MacKay, Jenny. Careers If You Like History. ISBN 9781682820025; ISBN 9781682820032.

Sheen, Barbara. Careers If You Like Math. ISBN 9781682820049; ISBN 9781682820056.

Snyder, Gail. Careers If You Like Science. ISBN 9781682820063; ISBN 9781682820070.

Uschan, Michael V. Careers If You Like Government and Politics. ISBN 9781682820001; ISBN 9781682820018.

ea vol: 80p. (Finding a Career). index. photos. websites. ReferencePoint. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $29.95. ebk. $39.95.

Gr 7 Up –How can favorite school subjects translate into a career? This approach describes sought after jobs derived from curricular interest areas. For instance, new technologies offer additional methods to develop writing skills (“When social media users curate news stories...they are performing the basic function of an editor”). Whereas history buffs will be delighted to learn that their expertise could be valuable to foreign embassies, government agencies, and even movie sets. Each volume features eight specific jobs, describing a typical workday with quotes and an interview. For example, in Government and Politics a congressional staffer who synthesizes information and prepares briefs is featured. Chapters are enhanced with color photos, fact boxes, employment outlook data, and a list of other compatible careers (referencing the Occupational Outlook Handbook). Unfamiliar job titles, such as “Atmospheric Scientist,” are cross-referenced. VERDICT Recommended for upper middle school and high school students seeking career inspiration.

Labrecque, Ellen. Air Traffic Controller. ISBN 9781634710572; ISBN 9781634712552; ISBN 9781634713542.

––––. Auto Technician. ISBN 9781634710589; ISBN 9781634712569; ISBN 9781634713559.

––––. Carpenter. ISBN 9781634710596; ISBN 9781634712576; ISBN 9781634713566.

––––. Chef. ISBN 9781634710602; ISBN 9781634712583; ISBN 9781634713573.

––––. Commercial Fisherman. ISBN 9781634710619; ISBN 9781634711609; ISBN 9781634713580.

––––. Electrician. ISBN 9781634710626; ISBN 9781634712606; ISBN 9781634713597.

––––. Green General Contractor. ISBN 9781634710633; ISBN 9781634712613; ISBN 9781634713603.

––––. Multimedia Artist and Animator. ISBN 9781634710640; ISBN 9781634712620; ISBN 9781634713610.

ea vol: 32p. (Cool Vocational Careers). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95. ebk. $32.95.

Gr 4-7 –These titles lean toward jobs that are physically demanding, artistic, or require more technical skills than most. Practical and informative, these books weave facts about the nature of the work, earnings, and educational requirements into the narrative. Quotes from real people about their career paths accompany discussions on efficiency, work ethic, problem solving, and being a team player. The captioned color photos of diverse workers underscore the type of daily tasks associated with the job, and fact boxes tie to “21st Century Content” or “Life & Career Skills.” “Think About It” offers questions to ask adults about the job or web search ideas. VERDICT Refreshing choices for students who may not be college bound.

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Big Animal Trainer. ISBN 9781634710930; ISBN 9781634712910; ISBN 9781634713900.

––––. Bounty Hunter. ISBN 9781634710947; ISBN 9781634712927; ISBN 9781634713917.

––––. Food Stylist. ISBN 9781634710954; ISBN 9781634712934; ISBN 9781634713924.

––––. Pet Food Tester. ISBN 9781634710961; ISBN 9781634712941; ISBN 9781 634713931.

ea vol: 32p. (Odd Jobs). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. Aug. 2016. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95. ebk. $32.95.

Gr 4-8 –A look at unconventional jobs in a highly visual format paired with simple texts. The repetition of common sight words and short sentences may improve fluency for some students, but the flow will seem choppy to more able readers. Details are authentic and draw on quotes and anecdotes from those in the field. In Pet Food Taster, for instance, experts cite the current demand for human grade pet food and debate whether to use animals or people to test it. Big Animal Trainer and Bounty Hunter depict the degree of risk taking and the precautions required. Pre-questions for each chapter, bright yellow fact boxes, captioned photographs, and bolded vocabulary words will boost comprehension. In addition to the back matter, a trivia page rounds out each volume. VERDICT Consider for reluctant readers or ELL students.

Publishers have heeded the call for career resources that target young audiences, as in Amicus’s illustrated “When I Grow Up” and Lerner’s “Hooray for Community Helpers.” For those using curriculum modules offered in tandem with Common Core Standards, this series and Capstone’s “Community Helpers on the Scene” zero in on families and communities. Rourke’s “STEAM Jobs You’ll Love” and Red Chair’s “On the Job” provide STEM connections. It seems a trend of the times to find more series about security or protective occupations and in this grouping Bellwether’s “Military Missions” and Amicus’s “Protecting Our People” fit the bill. Kudos to the entire group for recognizing the ever-changing role of technology, the need to include jobs for all abilities, and the importance of diversity in the images featured.

Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland

For the latest nonfiction series reviews, check out the Fall 2016 Series Made Simple

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