Nonfiction Monday – When I Grow Up


In honor of Labor Day, I thought it appropriate to review When I Grow Up: A Young Person’s Guide to Interesting and Unusual Occupations by Jessica Loy.

When I was growing up, I never dreamed about “normal” occupations. Doctor, lawyer, teacher and the like were not on my list. I longed to work with Jacques Cousteau and study marine mammals, study the fossil record of human evolution with the Leakey’s, or work in animal breeding and conservation at a zoo. My dream jobs grew largely out of reading about the work of famous scientists. I wanted to have those same adventures and make the same kinds of discoveries.

Young people today can learn about a whole host of jobs on television and online. However, it’s the printed page that still holds me captive, and a means for learning I hope young people will continue to use. Jessica Loy’s new book When I Grow Up is a winning entry in this category. Loy has done a fine job of capturing men, women and families in her profiles, and has selected occupations that are sure to encourage readers to “think outside the box” when it comes to career options. The book begins this way.

How do we decide what we want to be when we grow up? We might get ideas from our families and teachers or from people we admire.

Inside you will find fourteen careers that began as a dreams and have turned into lifelong pursuits. Many started as childhood interests. Maybe there is something you love to do that will someday become your career.

There are so many possibilities!

The fourteen careers profiled include:

  • Entomologist
  • Alpaca Farmers
  • Archaeologist
  • Master Cheese Maker
  • Research Biologist
  • Game Designer
  • Chocolatier
  • Percussionist
  • Lobsterman (actually a woman!)
  • Guitar Makers
  • Kite Designer
  • Pet Photographer
  • Set Designer
  • Robotics Engineer

Each occupation is described through the profile of a person who actually holds that job. The pages are filled with photographs of the person at work. There is a tremendous amount of information on each occupation’s double-page spread. The entry for Alpaca Farmers profiles a family in New York. There are photos of the family and the alpacas, alpacas being sheared, and a very interesting series of photos and captions about making yarn from alpaca fiber. After reading nearly every entry I found myself nodding my heading and thinking, “Now THAT would be a cool job!” I think young readers will feel the same way.

The book ends with contact information for each occupation profiled, complete with home/work addresses (should readers care to send mail the “old-fashioned” way) and web sites. The facing page provides a list of summer camps ideas that “offer an opportunity for kids to explore potential career paths.” Included is information for space camp, culinary camp, robot camp, computer camp and many more ideas.

Overall this is a well-researched, highly informative and engaging read. I highly recommend it.

Book: When I Grow Up: A Young Person’s Guide to Interesting and Unusual Occupations
Jessica Loy
Henry Holt
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 40 pages
Grades: 4-8
Source of Book: Review copy received from publisher.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen's blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

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