20 Books to Motivate Career-Minded Students

If your child is particularly interested in a specific subject, it is important to encourage their passion. There are ways you can help your student learn more about the career or subject that interests them. We’ve researched some of the most popular careers and provided fiction and non-fiction books to motivate, increase curiosity, and encourage learning in your student.

Be sure to review the K12 reading lists which includes great suggestions broken down by grade. Once you’ve read the book, check our list of the “Best Book to Movie Adaptations” to see if the film lived up to the written work!

Books to Motivate Students Who Want to be:

A Teacher

Children succeed

Non-Fiction: How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

“How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives.”


Fiction: Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling

The setting of the novels takes place at a school, and there are plenty of examples of both good and bad teachers in the cast of characters that aspiring teachers can learn from.

More Harry Potter Articles

This series has been adapted into award-winning films.

An Artist

steal artist

Non-Fiction: Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

“You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.”

Pearl earring

Fiction: Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

“History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of 16-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . . . even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.”

This book has been adapted into an Oscar-nominated film.

A Fireman or Policeman


Non-Fiction: Pride & Ownership: A Firefighter’s Love of the Job by Rick Lasky

“Pride and Ownership holds no punches. Chief Rick Lasky takes a hard look at the fire service and finds it short on the only element that makes it effective: passion. Chief Lasky gives an upfront and honest criticism about the need to reignite the love of the job on every level, from chiefs on down.”


Non-Fiction: Out of the Darkness and Into the Blue by Robert T. Christensen

Out of the Darkness and into the Blue recounts the most significant encounters in Christensen’s career, but is more than the exciting memoirs of a veteran police officer. Christensen follows each chapter with a thorough analysis, discussing tactics and training concepts relevant to his experiences.”

 A Gamer

extra lives

Non-Fiction: Extra Lives by Tom Bissell

“In just a few decades, video games have grown increasingly complex and sophisticated, and the companies that produce them are now among the most profitable in the entertainment industry. Yet few outside this world have thought deeply about how these games work, why they are so appealing, and what they are capable of artistically. Blending memoir, criticism, and first-rate reportage, Extra Lives is a milestone work about what might be the dominant popular art form of our time.”

Ready player one

Fiction: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

“Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.”

The book is being adapted into a film, directed by Steven Spielberg.

A Businessman/Businesswoman

WIn Friends

Non-Fiction: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

“Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.”

Fountain head

Fiction: The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand

“When The Fountainhead was first published, Ayn Rand’s daringly original literary vision and her groundbreaking philosophy, Objectivism, won immediate worldwide interest and acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. This edition contains a special afterword by Rand’s literary executor, Leonard Peikoff, which includes excerpts from Ayn Rand’s own notes on the making of The Fountainhead. As fresh today as it was then, here is a novel about a hero—and about those who try to destroy him.”

A Scientist

A brief history

Non-Fiction: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

“This landmark volume in scientific writing leads us on an exhilarating journey to distant galaxies, black holes, and alternate dimensions, and includes Professor Hawking’s observations about the last decade’s advances—developments that have confirmed many of his theoretical predictions. Makes vividly clear how Professor Hawking’s work has transformed our view of the universe.”


Fiction: Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep by Phillip K. Dick

“Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in. Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.”

This film was adapted into the popular film Blade Runner.

An Athlete


Non-Fiction: The New Toughness Training for Sports by James E. Loehr

“For nearly a quarter of a century, top sports psychologist James E. Loehr has been training world-class athletes, from Olympic gold medalist speed-skater Dan Jansen to tennis stars Monica Seles and Jim Courier His bestselling book, Mental Toughness Training for Sports, is a classic. In The New Toughness Training for Sports, he offers a toughness program that allows you to play at the very top of your game—every time. You’ll learn how to trigger you Ideal Performance State (IPS) on demand and gain the heightened physical, mental, and emotional mind-body toughness so vital to sports.”

Fiction: There are plenty of books on every sport, so finding a sport fiction book for your students should be easy.

A Historian

Any book can be considered a history book. Non-fiction books are a retelling of actual events, while fiction books mimic the history of the time it was written. Finding a book should be easy enough once you pin point the time period you are interested in.

Be sure to check our list of the Best Movies for Teaching American History as many are adaptions of books.

A Mathematician

number lover 2

Non-Fiction: The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman

“Based on a National Magazine Award-winning article, this masterful biography of Hungarian-born Paul Erdos is both a vivid portrait of an eccentric genius and a layman’s guide to some of this century’s most startling mathematical discoveries.”


Fiction: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

“On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.”

A Doctor

5 patients

Non-Fiction: Five Patients by Michael Crichton

“Michael Crichton takes a look at venerable Massachusetts General, giving firsthand accounts of five true and poignant cases which reveal the near-miraculous proficiency—and sometimes alarming inefficiency—of a major city hospital. A dramatic, behind-the-scenes tale from the author of Sphere. Reissue.”


Fiction: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

“Genova gives us a hauntingly accurate portrayal of a young woman’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease from the prime of life and the loftiest of cerebral heights.”

This book has been adapted into an award winning film.

A Musician

Love is mixt

Non-Fiction: Love Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

“Mix tapes: Stick one into a deck and you’re  transported to another time in your life. For Rob Sheffield, author of Turn Around Bright Eyes that time was one of miraculous love and unbearable grief. A time that spanned seven years, it started when he met the girl of his dreams, and ended when he watched her die in his arms. Using the listings of fifteen of his favorite mix tapes, Rob shows that the power of music to build a bridge between people is stronger than death. You’ll read these words, perhaps surprisingly, with joy in your heart and a song in your head—the one that comes to mind when you think of the love of your life.”

Good Squad
Fiction: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

“Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.”

We hope that you were able to find a book to inspire your student. Please share your favorite and most inspiring books with us in the comments!

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