What to Be When You Grow Up: 5 Books That Inspire Kids to Become Scientists and Engineers

books for kids
Serhiy Kobyakov under Creative Commons

Like any child of the 90s, I fondly remember characters like the Berenstain Bears asking, “What will I be when I grow up?”

Brother and Sister Bear introduced me to Firebear Bob, Police Officer Marguerite and others, opening my young eyes to the plethora of careers I could consider.

Now I’m watching my friends and sisters raise the next generation of kids, and rapidly advancing technology is opening a slew of new job prospects in areas that didn’t exist when we were kids.

Get your Generation Z kiddos excited about the career possibilities in engineering, computer science and entrepreneurship early on with these books recommended by Business Insider. I know what’s on my to-read list next time I see my little nieces and nephew!

1. What Do You Do With an Idea?

By Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

Ages 3+

This beautifully illustrated story is for anyone who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too odd.

Encourage your kids to explore their unique ideas with this simple, inspiring message:

“And then, I realized what you do with an idea. You change the world.”

2. Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became An Inventor

By Emily Arnold McCully

Ages 6-10

Inspire your kids with the true story of 19th-century inventor Margaret E. Knight.

The marvelous Mattie started designing new tools as a child, with only a sketchbook labeled “My Inventions” and her father’s toolbox.

As an adult, she was the first woman ever granted a U.S. patent, and through her life’s achievements, she earned the title “the Lady Edison.”

3. Hello Ruby: Adventures In Coding

By Linda Liukas

Ages 4-8

Want your kids to understand programming, but have no idea where to start? Introduce them — and yourself! — to the basic concepts with the hands-on activities and storytelling in Hello Ruby.

This project was a runaway success on Kickstarter, because, as BI explains, “you want your kids to speak code the same way your parents wanted you to speak Spanish.”

4. If I Built A Car

By Chris Van Dusen

Ages 3-5

This fun take on the “car of the future” and one little boy’s imagination comes out in Dr. Seuss-esque rhythm with nostalgic 1950s-style illustrations.

Young Jack takes the reader on a tour of the car he’d like to build, including a pool, a robot driver and the ability to dive underwater and fly through the air.

5. The Most Magnificent Thing

By Ashley Spires

Ages 3-7

Making “the most MAGNIFICENT thing” is anything but easy, but you can do it with a bit of perseverance, ingenuity and hard work.

This funny story of a girl overcoming her frustration with some encouragement from her best canine friend teaches kids what they can achieve with a positive attitude.

Learn more about each book and read the rest of the list at Business Insider.

Your Turn: Which childhood books inspired your job search as an adult?

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Dana Sitar is a Staff Writer at The Penny Hoarder. She also writes about writing, work, life and love for blogs and books and sometimes things people care about, like Huffington Post and that one time she had an article published in the Onion. Follow along on Twitter @danasitar.

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