All sorts of Career Ideas for Kids I recently heard a great answer to the baneful query often put to children, What do you want to be when you grow up? BIG was the answer. But not to ask the question doesn't mean parents and kids don't need to think about it. It is important for youngsters to identify their strengths and discover careers that match their interests.

The new Career Ideas for Kids series, publications of the new Facts on File imprint, Checkmark Books, should prove very helpful in this self-discovery process. They make the logical leap from what children like to career possibilities. Each volume opens with several pages entitled Make a Choice, which offer two routes: wait until college to think about what you want to do or start now figuring out your options. If kids from ages ten to 13 make the latter choice, author Diane Lindsey Reeves has loads of can't-put-it-down information in the first three volumes of the series.

With an underlying approach of motivation and reward, Reeves, who teaches career-planning skills to students, organizes the books well. Each offers a wide array of occupations related to the theme, general content about careers in the field as a whole, help in narrowing the choices, and additional resources including more books and places to practice job skills. The style is friendly, bright and breezy with kid-friendly drawings and photos. The information is up-to-the-minute, solid, and easy to absorb with bold headings. Some sections call for reader responses. Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Art introduces occupations such as animator, architect, interior designer, museum curator, photojournalist, and others. Each vocation is described as a whole followed by a feature on those in that field including what they wanted to be as a child. The featured people tells kids specifics such as how they started, where their ideas come from, the good and the bad about what they do, and what they would do if they were kids with that interest. Fascinating reading, here.

Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Science ($18.95, 0816036802) and Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Talking ($18.95, 0816036837) follow the same outline. The science occupations include several new careers such as avian veterinarian, limnologist, hydrogeologist, but most are well known. However, the Talking careers include some surprises hotel manager, air traffic controller, flight attendant, law enforcement officer, politician, retailer. There's no doubt that verbal communication is a critical part of such jobs, just as with the more predictable speech pathologist and broadcaster.

A great strength of these introductions to career paths is the freedom to accept or reject each vocation. The What's Next? section at the end of each book has three options: Red Light (Stop, I've found it!), Yellow Light (This is close but not quite it), and the Green Light (I need to go on to something else). Such choices give young readers the sense of being in control, and having that feeling is a big part of making a decision.

Three more Career Ideas for Kids titles on Computers, Sports, and Writing will be released in November. All titles are also available in paperback.

LouAnn Jones is a reviewer with a son headed for a job in Saint Louis, Missouri.

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