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Children's Nonfiction Careers

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs

by (author) Colleen Nelson & Kathie MacIsaac

Pajama Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
Careers, Diversity & Multicultural, School & Education, General, Inspirational & Personal Growth
Recommended Age
8 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


There is no single path to the job of your dreams.

What does it take to become a stuntperson? How does a mathematician spend her days? When does a barber become the center of a community? In this refreshing take on a careers book, meet twenty-five individuals of different backgrounds, genders, and abilities who have found their careers through a wide range of experience, education, intention, and inspiration. From Joshua Jones, who built a business where he could thrive as a Deaf interior designer, to Teresa Tam, whose hunger for knowledge led her to the position of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, each of these dreamers found ways to dig deep into their passion, to gain experience and knowledge, and to turn that into a job.

In If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It, Colleen Nelson, middle-school teacher and award-winning author of The Harvey Stories and The Undercover Book List, teams up with children’s librarian and literacy advocate Kathie MacIsaac to show young readers that there are many paths to a dream job. Education may come from university, college, trade school, apprenticeship, specialized training, or simply asking questions and getting involved. Your career may be something you’re already dreaming about or something you’ve never even heard of. No matter what, success means feeling happy with the work you do.

If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It includes full-color photographs and illustrations, informative sidebars, tips for trying out a field of interest, a glossary, an index, and an interactive quiz. Spotlight features on children and youth who are already gaining experience for their own dream jobs round out this inspirational resource.

About the authors

An author and junior high school teacher who also enjoyed many years of teaching kindergarten, Colleen Nelson earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in her hometown of Winnipeg. Her previous works include the critically-acclaimed middle-grade novels Harvey Comes Home and Harvey Holds His Own; Sadia, which won the 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award; and Blood Brothers, which was selected as the 2018 McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People. Colleen writes daily in between appearances at hockey rinks and soccer fields in support of her two sports-loving sons. The family’s West Highland Terrier Rosie adds an extra-loveable dose of liveliness, squirrel-chasing, and shoe-chewing to their lives.


Colleen Nelson's profile page

Kathie MacIsaac is an award-winning literacy advocate who is passionate about books for middle-grade readers. She is a co-author of the blog Bit About Books and a co-founder of the website MG Book Village, which facilitates connection between members of the middle-grade community. Kathie manages the children’s department of the Headingly Municipal Library near Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Her first book is If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs.  


Kathie MacIsaac's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Praise for If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It: How 25 inspiring individuals found their dream jobs

2022 Kirkus Reviews “Big Jobs, Big Dreams” Feature

2022 School Library Journal “Why We Read and Write Nonfiction, a guest post by Kathie MacIsaac and Rebecca E. F. Barone” Feature

Quill & Quire “2022 Fall Preview: Books for Young People – Nonfiction” Feature

49th Shelf “Most Anticipated: Our 2022 Books for Young Readers Fall Preview” Feature

49th Shelf “New Fall 2022 Books” Feature

2022 49th Shelf "8 Books That Celebrate Inspiring Women" Feature

The Children’s Book Council “Spring 2023 Showcase: Spring into a New You” Feature

The Children’s Book Council “Hot off the Press: October 2022” Feature

CBC Books “36 Canadian middle-grade books to watch for in fall 2022” Feature

“How does a person find a job that they enjoy doing? This inspiring book helps readers do just that….This is a wonderful compilation sure to interest students….A solid choice for a library needing middle grade nonfiction about careers.”—School Library Journal

Readers will delight in learning more about the range of professions available, and adults looking for a career change may be tempted to pick up the book as well. Will inspire readers to find—and follow—their dreams.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This is a fun, fact-filled book that should energize readers and encourage them to find ways to follow their own dreams.”—Booklist

“[T]his motivating guide will make an excellent addition to school libraries, and [is] perfect for children who are discovering their passions and developing new skills.”—Quill & Quire

“Colleen Nelson and Kathie [MacIsaac]…created a book where 25 people of a wide range of occupations explain precisely how they got those jobs in the first place. How cool is that? … It actually looks like something a kid would get a kick out of reading. This is so cool.”—School Library Journal, Fuse 8

“[A] wonderful book that should be part of classroom libraries from grades four through eight. It presents many wonderful talking points and at least an academic year's worth of project-based inquiries….Reviewer Rating: 5”—Children’s Literature

“Extremely engaging, the stories in If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It are not only inspiring but will, perhaps, spark some readers to explore unique professions and, above all, to follow their dreams. Highly Recommended”—CM Magazine

“Whether you want to learn about Martha the Smokejumper, Blake the NHL Scout or Ismail the Documentary Photographer, this book contains several common and less heard of jobs. Which career will entice you?”—Metroland Media

In this well-formatted collective biography, nicely illustrated with Scot Ritche's full color, exuberant page decorations, we meet a variety of people who set out to pursue jobs from farming to teaching to writing books… In addition to being a good book to have for career studies, this book can offer a lot of scope for the imagination and open up the world of career opportunities.”—YA Books Central

“[T]he perfect book for anyone who wants to be inspired and learn more about a host of different career opportunities. The book lays out each person’s story very nicely, not only telling each person’s individual background and career aspirations, but also tips for how to work toward that job… Definitely a must read…Overall rating: 5.”—Beth Rodgers, YA Books Central

“[A] dynamic resource that will appeal to middle grade readers…There are many opportunities throughout this book for ALL readers to see themselves reflected through the biographies of those featured…with incredible inspiration from those featured in the book and Kathie and Colleen’s excellent way of bringing their stories to life, this book can provide a little bit of guidance.”—Storytime with Stephanie

“[A]n inspiring, in-depth look at how specific people came to their profession….This book features 25 individuals with a wide variety of interesting jobs and what it takes to get there….A great resource for ‘career day’.”—The International Educator

“What a fantastic book….Each profile includes a mix of real photos and illustrations by one of my favourites, Scot Ritche, as well as tips, suggestions on how to learn more about the job, and spin-off jobs…. So many interesting people and so many potential opportunities.”—Book Time

“Rating: ★★★★★…[A]n inspiring book about finding your dream job!”—Jill’s Book Blog

“[A] well-organized collective biography that informs and celebrates….Colleen Nelson and Kathie MacIsaac cover all the bases in a comprehensive and captivating format…with Scot Ritchie's playful cartoons reflecting the diversity and abundance of people and jobs showcased.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“This book illuminates a pile of modern careers and professions in a way that's diverse and accessible for young readers. Each job is described with just the right amount of detail… This is all enhanced with photos and vibrant illustrations…Every reader will find themselves in this book.”—Marsha Skyrpuch (Goodreads)

“The layout is attractive and easy to follow, text features provide strong organization, and additional snippets of information in catchy categories will make If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It a popular choice for young and old audiences.”—Bit About Books

“In this well-formatted collective biography, nicely illustrated with Scot Ritche's full color, exuberant page decorations, we meet a variety of people who set out to pursue jobs from farming to teaching to writing books….In addition to being a good book to have for career studies, this book can offer a lot of scope for the imagination and open up the world of career opportunities.”—Ms. Yingling Reads

“Who knew the many paths children today might take to ensure a happy life?...[T]he authors encourage readers to make a choice that will fulfill them by following the dreams they have, knowing there may be obstacles and hard work ahead. It will be worth it to be doing something you love.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

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