Jobs, STEAM-Style: Careers & Skills | Series Made Simple Fall 2014

Nonfiction titles provide kids with a real peek into the professional world of adults. This season’s offerings are STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math)-focused and will inspire kids to think seriously about skills and careers, from titles on learning how to program to those on engineering and biotechnology
SMS1411-BK-Careers

 Adults sometimes give children and teens mixed messages about the future. We want them to enjoy their youth, but we also tell them that it’s never too early to start thinking about their future. Books let kids find an easy balance between these two opposing sets of expectations. Nonfiction titles in particular provide a real peek into the professional world of adults. This season’s offerings are STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and design, and math)-focused. While some series introduce jobs that readers may never have known existed, others contain practical tips to help kids get started now, and a few simply describe unique options. Many demonstrate the important lesson that a job can grow out of passion, interest, and hard work.

Preschool to Grade 4

Garrett, Winston. What Does a Library Media Specialist Do? ISBN 9781477765463.

––––. What Does the School Nurse Do? ISBN 9781477765517.

Kidde, Rita. What Do School Secretaries Do? ISBN 9781477769355.

––––. What Do Teachers Do? ISBN 9781477765562.

––––. What Does a Janitor Do? ISBN 9781477769348.

––––. What Does the Principal Do? ISBN 9781477764770.

ea vol: 24p. (Jobs in My School). index. photos. websites. PowerKids. 2014. lib. ed. $22.60.

K-Gr 2 –Clean design and attractive photography make this a solid series for young readers. Each spread features one page with no more than two simple sentences and a full-bleed photograph. The images nicely complement the texts, showing diverse individuals at work in the various jobs profiled. Every title has three keywords printed in bold throughout the text so that readers can glean definitions while learning. A table of contents and index in each book also provide the opportunity to teach readers about nonfiction elements. These books would work well read aloud or independently and will fit nicely into any school or public library.

Grades 5 & Up

Bodden, Valerie. Giving a Presentation. ISBN 9781608182800. LC 2013029619.

––––. Improving Study Habits. ISBN 9781608182817. LC 2013029620.

––––. Preparing for an Exam. ISBN 9781608182824. LC 2013029621.

––––. Writing a Research Paper. ISBN 9781608182831. LC 2013029622.

ea vol: illus. by Nate Williams. 48p. (Classroom How-To). bibliog. further reading. glossary. illus. index. notes. websites. Creative Education. 2014. lib. ed. $24.95.

Gr 5-8 –It’s sometimes hard for students to understand why they have homework and tests, making it difficult for them to complete these tasks. This series aims to answer the “why” as well as the “how.” Bodden writes in a friendly style, offering concrete advice on note-taking in class (don’t to try write down every single word the teacher says), researching, and getting started. Each book is illustrated with bright, whimsical drawings that don’t directly reflect the content but that help to break up large expanses of text. Middle school students may find these books most helpful if read and discussed with a teacher or librarian in a study skills or research class.

Brezina, Corona. Top STEM Careers in Math. ISBN 9781477776766.

Hagler, Gina. Top STEM Careers in Engineering. ISBN 9781477776728.

La Bella, Laura. Top STEM Careers in Technology. ISBN 9781477776681.

Suen, Anastasia. Top STEM Careers in Science. ISBN 9781477776643.

ea vol: 128p. (Cutting-Edge STEM Careers). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen Young Adult. 2014. lib. ed. $34.60.

Gr 8 Up –The increasing need for young professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields means that strong academic foundations in high school are important. Just as vital is education on what these jobs entail. This useful, though less than thrilling series addresses this need by detailing the varied paths available and the significant impact of these professions. For example, a hydrologist plays an important role in ensuring the preservation of and access to our most precious resource—water. Well-organized material combined with informative advice make these titles helpful additions to high school libraries. However, the texts are quite dry, so readers should be encouraged to dip in and out, depending on their interests.

Gregory, Josh. Animation: From Concept to Consumer. ISBN 9780531206133; ISBN 9780531210727.

––––. Race Cars: Science Technology Engineering. ISBN 9780531206140; ISBN 9780531210734.

Mara, Wil. Space Exploration: Science Technology Engineering. ISBN 9780531206157; ISBN 9780531210741.

Otfinoski, Steve. Television: From Concept to Consumer. ISBN 9780531206126; ISBN 9780531210710.

ea vol: 64p. (Calling All Innovators: A Career for You). further reading. glossary. index. photos. Children’s Pr. 2014. lib. ed. $30. pap. $8.95.

Gr 5-8 –The history, present, and future of innovation in four STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) careers are explored in this engaging series. With clean design and attractive graphics, each book is a blend of fascinating and practical information arranged in organized, concise sections. For those who may not have realized how much math and science are involved in NASCAR, Race Cars demonstrates the importance of these subjects to the sport while maintaining a sense of excitement. Each title also features an interview with a professional explaining how they got started and giving advice to young people. An appropriate series for middle schoolers searching for concrete career possibilities.

Hill, Z.B. Acting: Stage & Screen. ISBN 9781422231685; ISBN 9781422287057.

––––. Art Festivals & Galleries: The Art of Selling Art. ISBN 9781422231692; ISBN 9781422287064.

––––. Comedy & Comedians. ISBN 9781422231708; ISBN 9781422287071.

––––. Filmmaking & Documentaries. ISBN 9781422231715; ISBN 9781422287088.

––––. Music & Musicians. ISBN 9781422231722; ISBN 9781422287095.

––––. Painting. ISBN 9781422231739; ISBN 9781422287101.

––––. Performing Arts. ISBN 9781422231746; ISBN 9781422287118.

James, Sara. Photography. ISBN 9781422231753; ISBN 9781422287125.

––––. Sculpting. ISBN 9781422231760; ISBN 9781422287132.

––––. Writing: Stories, Poetry, Song, & Rap. ISBN 9781422231777; ISBN 9781422287149.

ea vol: 64p. (Art Today!). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2014. lib. ed. $23.95. ebk. $29.95.

Gr 5-8 –Aspiring artists will find practical information and advice on how to get started in the arts in this series. Each title begins with an overview of the profession and also provides some historical background. Vocabulary, research-project suggestions, and review questions are included in every chapter, giving the books, which should be more suited to independent reading, a drier, academic feel, despite the clear style of writing. Of note is the series’ inclusive representation of diversity in the photos, even if it is not always reflective of the content. In Music & Musicians, for example, Madonna is the only woman included in a century- and genre-spanning section on “Famous Musicians.” Acting, Writing, and Comedy are particularly noteworthy titles in this otherwise average series.

Jacobson, Ryan. Get a Job at a Business. ISBN 9781467738385. LC 2013046648.

––––. Get a Job Helping Others. ISBN 9781467738361. LC 20130039047.

––––. Get a Job Making Stuff to Sell. ISBN 9781467738378. LC 2013044296.

––––. Get a Summer Adventure Job. ISBN 9781467738392. LC 2013041689.

ea vol: illus. by Jon Cannell. 40p. (You’re in Business!). ebook available. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Lerner. 2014. lib. ed. $27.93.

Gr 5-9 –Slender but useful volumes make up this series for enterprising teens. You’re in Business! focuses on attainable jobs for young people, such as babysitter, retail worker, and camp counselor. There are also chapters on how to create work by washing cars, making crafts or baked goods to sell, or by teaching others how to use social media (the most creative suggestion of the series). Attractive design using a scrapbook aesthetic allows readers to casually thumb through each book for ideas, and a simple structure ensures that they can scan the table of contents to find something to catch their eye. General tips on how to present oneself in an interview, write a resume, and advertise one’s services are also included in each book. A helpful series for teens looking to turn their hobbies into cash or just seeking a good job.

McGuire, Kara. All About the Green: The Teens’ Guide to Finding Work and Making Money. ISBN 9780756543723.

––––. Cover Your Assets: The Teens’ Guide to Protecting Their Money, Their Stuff, and Themselves. ISBN 9780756549213.

––––. Making Money Work: The Teens’ Guide to Saving, Investing, and Building Wealth. ISBN 9780756549220.

––––. Smart Spending: The Teens’ Guide to Cash, Credit, and Life’s Costs. ISBN 9780756549237.

ea vol: 64p. (Financial Literacy for Teens). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Compass Point. 2014. lib. ed. $33.32.

Gr 9 Up –Insurance, investments, loans, and interest. Finances can be confusing and overwhelming even for adults, let alone teens, but series such as this one aim to teach young people how to be smart about money. Each title is devoted to a specific topic but all cover the same basic principles of spending and saving. McGuire uses an informal voice to explain Roth IRAs, financial aid, and the stock market, sometimes coming across as trying too hard, especially when slang is awkwardly employed. The design and layout also seems to have been created with teens in mind, but the result is chaotic and visually dissonant. While all of the books contain practical tips and advice, Making Money Work has the most coherent organization of information and is thus the most usable.

Mason, Helen. Chef. ISBN 9781482414752.

––––. Costume Designer. ISBN 9781 482414394.

––––. Interior Designer. ISBN 9781482414479.

––––. Landscape Designer. ISBN 9781 482414486.

––––. Makeup Artist. ISBN 9781482414493.

––––. Urban Planner. ISBN 9781482414516.

ea vol: 48p. (Creative Careers). further reading. glossary. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2014. lib. ed. $31.95.

Gr 3-8 –It’s beneficial to start exploring the future at a young age, and this series gives aspiring designers, chefs, and artists a concrete guide to the nuts and bolts of six interesting jobs. The books provide students with descriptions of the different types of the jobs within a profession (Chef contains information on executive chefs, sous chefs, and line chefs, for instance), a checklist of ideal qualities, and ways to get started now. Readers may also find inspiration in the brief profiles of important people in the field. The design is a bit busy; however, the colors are bright, and pages filled with images will maintain interest. Both younger students and teens who are hi-lo readers will find these books valuable resources.

Nagle, Jeanne. Getting to Know Alice. ISBN 9781477776933.

––––. Getting to Know Scratch. ISBN 9781477776971.

Niver, Heather Moore. Getting to Know Arduino. ISBN 9781477774991.

––––. Getting to Know Ruby. ISBN 9781477777138.

Payment, Simone. Getting to Know Python. ISBN 9781477777176.

Petrikowski, Nicki Peter. Getting to Know the Raspberry Pi. ISBN 9781477777091.

Rauf, Don. Getting to Know Hackety Hack. ISBN 9781477777053.

Shea, Therese. Getting to Know Lego Mindstorms. ISBN 9781477777015.

ea vol: 64p. (Code Power: A Teen Programmer’s Guide). bibliog. further reading. index. photos. websites. Rosen Young Adult. 2014. lib. ed. $31.95.

Gr 6-9 –It’s not a leap to assume that most kids and teens today have interacted with some kind of software on a computer, tablet, phone, or video game. As the series title indicates, code is powerful. These books introduce readers to programming languages, such as Ruby and Python, as well as software that teaches programming, including Alice and Hackety Hack. Don’t confuse these with tutorial guides, though; students won’t learn “how to” from these books. They function more like extended, in-depth reviews, giving readers some background on the program or language in addition to practical advice on how to get started. A glossary, bibliography, and list of online resources make each book an especially useful resource for any library serving aspiring coders.

Sheen, Barbara. Careers in Health Care. ISBN 9781601526489.

––––. Careers in the Military. ISBN 9781 601526885.

Szumski, Bonnie. Careers in Biotechnology. ISBN 9781601527028.

––––. Careers in Engineering. ISBN 9781601526762.

––––. Careers in Fashion. ISBN 9781601527042.

Wilcox, Christine. Careers in Information Technology. ISBN 9781601527066.

ea vol: 80p. (Exploring Careers). index. ReferencePoint Pr. 2014. lib. ed. $28.95.

Gr 9 Up –As teenagers prepare for college, they are also thinking about life after university. These books take a field or industry—fashion, for example—and break down several different jobs in that area. Each job has its own chapter that describes what the work entails, the education requirements, and an estimated salary range. Most importantly, though, the text includes quotes from and interviews with real people about their jobs, as well as useful details about opportunities for growth in that position. The authors strive to be as realistic as possible in their descriptions of a job’s potential outlook, and every chapter concludes with a list of professional organizations and unions for more information. For the student who has a general sense of their interests, this series can help narrow their focus for their college plans. Valuable additions to any high school library.

Whiting, Jim. Air Force Special Operations Command. ISBN 9781608184606.

––––. FBI Hostage Rescue & Swat Teams. ISBN 9781608184620.

––––. Green Berets. ISBN 9781608184637.

––––. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. ISBN 9781608184644.

ea vol: 48p. (U.S. Special Forces). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Creative Education. 2014. lib. ed. $24.95.

Gr 7-10 –Shedding light on lesser-known U.S. military teams, this series is packed with information. Each book begins with an engaging introductory narrative that puts readers right inside the action with these special forces, followed by a history of the elite team. Whiting describes in detail the training process for the men and women who apply for these jobs, which require both immense physical skill and strength, as well as mental grit and intelligence. The design is clean, though the typeface is quite small, with great use of photographs to highlight the text. This series will be invaluable for students researching or writing about the military.


There’s plenty here for ambitious students, from developing helpful study skills to honing the abilities they’ll one day need in a variety of different workplaces. Students in grades 5-8 can begin to develop healthy study (and work) habits by reading Creative Education’s “Classroom How-To” and Lerner’s “You’re in Business!” For those with more specific interests, Rosen Young Adult’s “Code Power” will give detailed guides to various programming languages and software. “Calling All Innovators” from Children’s Press is a balanced blend of information and inspiration on a wide range of careers with STEM connections. Mason Crest’s “Art Today!” has a lot of useful advice for aspiring artists who want to work now. For a more global perspective, less familiar jobs in the military are described with great detail in Creative Education’s “U.S. Special Forces,” while altruistic careers are explored in “How Do They Help?” from Cherry Lake. Older students in need of guidance with an eye toward college and beyond will find Reference Points Press’ “Exploring Careers” invaluable.

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