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Ashley Atkinson
Editor, Branch Out

Imagine Your Future

Photos of STEAM activities

Kids, what do you want to be when you grow up?

By Brooke Stoneman, Tysons-Pimmit Library

Teacher! Pilot! Astronaut! Firefighter!

As grown-ups, we might be tempted to dismiss the early enthusiasm that children express for one type of job. However, emerging research suggests career development is a lifelong process that can begin as early as the age of five. Regardless, we resist the idea of funneling first graders into permanent career tracks: “What about exploration? What about developing new interests? What about just being a kid!?”

Enter your local library, a great place for children to explore, play and learn in a no-risk, no-pressure environment. The following are just a few ways your child can begin to explore future career opportunities through the library while honoring the social and cognitive needs of childhood.


Your child can explore the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math through various virtual S.T.E.A.M. activities offered by the library. Tomorrow’s chemical engineers might just get their start thanks to a library program. Budding scientists may draw inspiration from digital resources for children like Gale In Context: Elementary (previously Kid’s Infobits) and Early World of Learning. Future graphic designers might start to develop concepts of color and shape through our wonderful collection of art eBooks for kids.

Storytime and Clubs

Lifelong interest in performing arts and music can be nurtured during short 30-minute storytimes in branches (when offered) or 10-minute online storytimes. Both in-person and virtual storytimes can develop language and interpersonal skills that might kickstart careers in human resources or social work.

In addition to children's book clubs offered when in-branch programs are running, Fairfax County Public Library offers a variety of virtual programs for school-age kids, including: S.T.E.A.M storytimes, maker moments, and coding introductions.

Nonfiction Books

Check out children’s eBooks about technology for an outer space enthusiast or nature eBooks for the young biologist in your family. Realistic graphics and compelling narrative can help your child explore any number of future career fields.

The Scholastic Go!, Just for Kids and World Almanac for Kids databases will provide additional encouragement for your nonfiction readers. Lush with videos, facts and reliable resources, these online offerings will enhance children’s reading and learning experiences.

Learn more about fun STEAM activities, information and career ideas in the STEAM Opportunities for Fairfax County Youth guide

Fairfax Virtual Assistant