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The following ten books are great for possibly inspiring kids (ages eight to twelve unless otherwise specified) to set goals for their future. Some of the books merely inform, inspire and educate, others give direction and information about specific fields that could lead to possible occupations.

Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond, by Martin Jenkins, and perfectly drawn with pencil and colored pencil rich in detail by Stephen Biesty, will surely spark some great interest in the outer regions of our universe. This superbly illustrated book begins with a look at the solar system and beyond. There is a bit of a history lesson of how we got into space. The last chapter delves into real possibilities of “Where Do We Go From Here?” The elaborate drawings of some of the structures, including the tall buildings needed to construct large rockets, show elaborate cross sections inside these edifices.

Peg + Cat: The Lemonade Problem, by Jennifer Oxley, and digitally illustrated by Billy Aronson, is a terrific math problem-solving picture book (book 4 in a series) geared for ages five through nine. Fun and funny Peg deals with solving math problems using her lemonade stand. Her sidekick, and furry pet friend, solve several dilemmas along with the reader. 

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics, by Steve Jenkins, is filled with animal facts you never knew about. The layout of these infographics is easy to decipher and very enticing for kids. There are also several types of graphs making this book excellent in learning much on every page. One open-page clearly shows seven completely different shaped horns on a large graph which also shows the lengths in feet, centimeters and inches. The brilliant and colorful illustrations were made with torn and cut-paper collages.

A Beginner’s Guide to Coding (Have Fun using Scratch and Python), by Marc Scott, and illustrated by Mick Marston, introduces the computer-curious minds to creating codes and to follow self-made instructions. The layout is kid-friendly and simple to follow and learn from during the process. The programming used here, Scratch and Python, is universal helping make learning accessible.

Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water Around the Earth, by Molly Bang, and ultra-brightly illustrated by Penny Chisholm, is the fifth picture book in this gloriously informative and neon-glowing book, good for ages four to eight, dealing with the sun and water. The book simply, yet powerfully, informs the reader of the correlation between the sun and water, evaporation, aquifers and much more. Even the text is filled with references of water splashes and the sun slurping up drips.

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, by Camille Andros, and illustrated using charcoal, pencil and ink on paper and then colored digitally by Brianne Farley, involves a very curious rabbit (Charlotte) who is prepared to conduct experiments by following scientific procedures discussed in this interesting and humorous picture book. Be sure to check out the back of the book that reviews the scientific steps to a successful experiment. Chances are your child will also be attempting some of their own. 

Word Play, by Adam Lehrhaupt, and colorfully illustrated digitally by Jared Chapman, is a clever picture book teaching the parts of speech and how to incorporate them in real life situations. Verb always seems to have more fun because she can actively move and do antics. All the while Adverb, Adjective and Interjection observe in amazement! The end pages brightly chart the parts of speech along with their definitions.

Tidy, by Emily Gravett, is a beautifully illustrated picture book with pictures that completely cover both sides of the open pages. Pete is a badger who obsesses with being tidy at all costs. When the leaves begin to fall in autumn he immediately begins to vacuum them entirely up. But then he decides the trees look so bare that he pulls them out of the ground. Ultimately, he discovers he has altered nature and that all living things need living plants, so he rectifies the damage. The rhyming text has a steady beat enhancing the lessons Pete is learning.

The Future Architect’s Tool Kit, by Barbara Beck, is just what the prospective architect needs. The kit includes a book that details what your imaginary client desires along with site plans and models to construct a house. There is also a ruler, eraser, pencil and sharpener. The kit closes with a Velcro tab making this an easy to follow kit.

Lost in the Pacific, 1942, by Tod Olson, is ultimately a real-life story about survival. However, this page-turner will grab you from the beginning and never let you go. This little-known event began when the U.S. airplane carrying eight men across the Pacific Ocean attempted to land on a tiny island. But with their instruments (the technology of the time) they couldn’t locate the island and eventually ran out of fuel. They had to crash land in the water and then try to survive on limited water and food. The book is well written and gives tremendous insight and difficulty experienced during World War II.