Right now your child might want to be a pirate or a princess when they grow up, but, we all know those job options are hard to come by.
Career exploration for kids can start as early as elementary school age. The earlier they are introduced to different types of careers, the more excited they may be about their futures!
Some school districts are even starting Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in elementary schools to help children explore their interests.
Books are also a great way to get that conversation started too!
Reading books about different blue collar careers will not only help them learn about different jobs that do not usually require a college degree, but can help kids understand just how important these workers are for our communities.
For teachers, these can make great career day books for reading time! Not only are they educational and engaging, but they can also help open up a child’s mind to new possibilities.
Studies have determined that most kids will start really thinking about their futures in middle school. So, even if they are not talking about it with you – they are giving their career options a lot of thought.
The problem is the lack of resources for kids to help them with career exploration.
The national average for school counselors to students is 1:491, which is almost 2x the recommended amount by the American School Counselor Association. Source: ACTE
This is why it is so important that the conversation about careers starts at home.
Check out our “sheroes” list of career books for just for girls too. Inspiring stories to help girls see how they too can excel in male-dominated industries.
Below are some of the best career exploration books that are just focused on trade careers!
Skilled Trade Career Exploration Books For Kids
These books feature age-appropriate details about careers in the skilled trade industry. Most of these books are best suited for kids in grades 3-5, but some younger children, or even older may enjoy them too!
From fun illustrations or real images – to the ease of reading, these books are all amazing options to introduce trade careers to those young ones.
Someone Builds The Dream
Children can learn all about the people that make our world a better place. Authored by Lisa Wheeler and Loren Long, the book features an exploratory look at all the men and women that make our world what it is.
From workers on a wind farm that brings us power to the carpenters, welders, and plumbers that make our homes livable. This book is a tribute to all the people that make our worlds comfortable!
On The Construction Site
A whimsical book from Carron Brown that will take your child on an exploration of the super secret world of a construction site.
Your child’s journey will help them see what kind of construction vehicles are used and what kind of things can be built. Using a flashlight with the book brings a whole new element of wonder to the pages.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
A book every blue collar mom and dad will love to read to their little ones.
This adorable board book is filled with colorful illustrations and story telling that takes place with rhymes.
There are several books in this series like Construction Site: Road Crew Coming Through, Construction Site Mission: Demolition and more.
Let your child’s natural wonder explore what it is like to be a construction truck, from working at the site to winding down at night to get some rest.
A fun and easy to read rhyming books that helps young ones learn all about all of the machinery to get building work done.
A digger, welder, dump truck and more are all part of this fun and beautifully illustrated book.
Princess Peenie: Build Like A Princess
Princess Peenie has a gift for building and is responsible for some of the most beautiful buildings that exist in the kingdom.
Unfortunately, her dad, the King, is not happy about what is daughter does.
But, Princess Peenie is not going to stop doing what she loves. Instead, she will take young kids on a journey of the skills, and tools she uses and help girls learn they can do ANYTHING!
The book was written by Mark Rason, whose daughter was his inspiration.
My Mom Is A Construction Manager
A book by Akilah W. Darden, the owner of the Darden Group, LLC, a construction management company. The book is created through the eyes of the children of a construction manager, who also happens to be their mom.
A great book to inspire the littlest dreamers, builders, and creatives.
Willow Discovers Welding
This book features a curious girl named Willow who goes on an exciting journey. Your child can take a journey with Willow as she learns how things are made and how they work.
It will also inspire them to dream big and help them see the many opportunities for women in the skilled trade world.
The author, Kelli N. Gilliam was inspires to write the back based on the questions her own daughter was asking of her welder mom!
When I Grow Up
Rae Ripple, an accomplished welder, shares the story of a young girl who is motivated by a question from a teacher to think about her future.
A trip to the library and a run in with a welder, who also happens to be a woman, turns those thoughts into excitement when she realized she too can be a welder!
This adorable book features illustrations by Rae’s son and realistic images among the drawings to create a unique look.
The Water Came To A Stop
The Water Came To A Stop is the first book in what will be a series called “Next Up Trades”. This series will be rhyming books that will teach children about how important the jobs in the skilled trades are and help build a more positive perception of blue collar workers.
The first book focuses on the plumbing industry. When Dean’s water stops during his birthday party and a plumber needs to save the day, he learns just how important plumbers are to their daily lives.
The book is the vision of Ryan Kiscaden, who worked for an HVACR as well as a plumbing wholesaler.
Supply Jane Clears The Way
Supply chain careers are an important part of our daily lives, but one that rarely gets enough attention or discussion! This book helps kids understand the ins-and-outs of how products are made and the troubles that the supply chain can experience.
Imagine your dragon needs food! Uncle Manny makes the best darn dragon food there is – but it is so good that he cannot make enough for his customers to buy.
Supply Jane and Fifo to the rescue! They will bring their inventory management and supply chain skills to help Uncle Manny get his business back on track.
The author, Megan Preston Meyer, also has other books available in this series!
What Does Your Daddy Do?
Joshua Page, an electrician by trade, is an advocate for trade careers and is passionate about promoting the vocations to kids of all ages. He took some time during the pandemic to create a way he could bring awareness to the upcoming generations about the trades and show them just how cool they can be.
That is how “What Does Your Daddy Do?” came to be. This book is for elementary-age students and “shines a light” (get it?) on what it is like to be an electrician.
The book takes place in the 5th-grade class that Ashton attends. This week is career week, and Ashton needs to find out what his dad does. When he learns his dad is an electrician, he is amazed at all the cool things that his dad gets to do! So, join Ashton at career week and learn more! A “What Does Your Mommy Do?” version is also coming soon.
Everyday Superheroes: Women in Energy Careers
Let your child meet thirty-four female superheroes in the field of energy! These women are working hard in all types of jobs to help keep our world powered up so kids can watch their favorite TV shows, play video games, and use cell phones.
Whether they are digging wells, installing power lines, or even running a solar farm – these women are sure to inspire! And with energy being such a good sector to work in, it is one worth encouraging kids of all ages to consider.
This multicultural book showcases energy careers from science to trade and will open children’s eyes to opportunities, especially for young girls.
“There are trailblazing women in every part of the energy sector, from research and policy to engineers and technicians. This book will empower young people to take action and show that the energy transition is for everyone!”Meredith Adler, executive director, Student Energy
The book includes:
- Biographies of real women in the energy field
- Energy career ideas that are science-based, in research, or trade jobs
- What girls can do today to be their superhero in energy
- The importance of energy in our communities
This book is just one of several from a line of books about “Stem Superheroes.” The girl behind the books is Erin Twamley, a passionate advocate for STEM and improving awareness about the many careers that exist.
Future Plans For Kids: Skilled Trades
Let your child go on an adventure with Wally, Max, Josie, and more as they share their career research in the skilled trades. Each character will work as part of a research team to help kids understand what each career will be like.
They will get lost in the world of construction, machinery, and heavy equipment to help them see the many opportunities that can lead to a fantastic future.
The author, Stephanie Audrey, has done a superb job of creating a book that also embraces diversity in the trades.
Skilled Trade Careers: Various
Gary Sprott is the author behind the Skilled Trade Careers series of books. These books are specifically created for grades 3-5 and are filled with information about various skilled trade careers.
The series includes:
- HVAC Technicians
Each book focuses on a specific career and will bring awareness about what it takes to do the job. They will learn about the types of tools used, the kind of safety requirements followed, and the education they would need to land a job.
All are written at a level that grade school kids can understand! The books also include real-life photography, vocabulary definitions, questions, and more to help engage them.
The House That She Built
Letting your child see exactly how a house is built can be so inspiring! The book The House That She Built helps children understand all that is required to create their homes and inspires young girls to consider jobs in homebuilding.
Inspire girls to learn about being a framer, roofer, plumber, or interior designer! This book was inspired by a team of women who came together from all over the country to build a home!
“The books we read as children can shape the people we grow up to be. The House That She Built is empowering, encouraging, informative, and inspiring. Every child needs a book like this on their shelf that says, “You can do anything you set your mind to.”Amy Riley, Preschool Teacher
Join Paige as she takes on the challenge of fixing a toilet or a shower head in these adorable books that will introduce kids to the construction trades. These paperback books are easy to read for young children with fun illustrations.
The book is written by Paige Knowles who goes by the name “plumber Paige” and is a female plumber in real life. Her parents exposed her to the trades at a young age, and the rest as they say is history.
Ultimate Spotlight: Firefighters
This fun, interactive book will take your child on a trip with some firefighters that will help them see all the things our firefighter heroes do in a day.
With popups, tabs, and fun illustrations, there is something exciting behind every page of this book. From putting on their fire gear or rushing on the big red fire truck to get to a fire – kids will be immersed in the experience and be excited to learn more.
This series of books offers other wonderful interactive books as well like the Construction Site Book, Airplanes and Airports, and a Book of Vehicles. All of these books offer an opportunity for children to learn about different industries that may spark a passion for a future career!
So, what are you waiting for? Let these career exploration books help your child imagine a future doing some really cool things! If we can get them excited about skilled trade careers early, we can be helping them create an amazing future.
All About Smart Manufacturing
This rhyming picture book from Mike Nager is a perfect way to introduce your child to the world of manufacturing. This field opens so many doors for those with college degrees – and without, making it a great career path that kids can consider.
In this book, children will explore the art and science of how things are made. It is perfect for kids in the K-5 group and will help them learn about the manufacturing sector in a fun way. With manufacturing improving due to technology advances, the dirt and danger of manufacturing, is no longer the norm. Smart manufacturing is moving in with new things happening with robotics and technology.
Connie Loves Construction
Join 10-year old Connie on her journey of exploring a construction career in this book from Oriel Selver.
While her friends do not understand her desire to do construction, she continues on her journey and starts going to the hardware store to learn all she can about the tools.
This is just the start of her journey – and we continue on to learn about her adult life as a construction worker.
WireWomen: Lighting It Up
Author Sharon Szymanski brings to light what it is like to be a female electrician.
Meet the women who are training in apprentice programs to become licensed electricians. All of the stories of are of women in NYC and working hard in 5-year programs that are a combination of on-the-job training and classroom education.
This book is best for older children!
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
This classic was first published in 1939 by Virginia Lee Burton and Amadou Seydou Traore and has been a favorite with teachers and parents ever since.
The book is a journey that Mike takes with his steam shovel he named Mary Anne. They work together to dig canals, create mountain passes for trains, and so much more.
But when new machines start showing up, Mike has to prove that his trusty Mary Anne is still the best out there. So, what happens in Popperville, the town they live in? Well, you have to read the book to find out how the amazing relationship ends.
Let’s Go To The Hardware Store
A great look at a family trip to the hardware store to get some items needed to fix the house. This book by Anne Rockwell is a great introduction to all the tools that skilled trade workers use every day.
Kids will learn a bit about a screwdriver, stepladder, hammer, and more!
Even if they are not going to work in a trade, every child should know various tools, what they can do, and how to fix some basic household items.
Have we forgotten a book? Please reach out and let us know so we can get it added!