Book review: Whatever You Grow Up to Be, by Karen Kingsbury


Whatever You Grow Up to Be is a Christian children’s book (ages 3-5) that is about all the possibilities that a young boy’s future holds.  (There is companion book geared towards girls.)  The story follows a boy’s life from a child to an adult, talking about how he could grow up to be whatever his interest is at that particular age (firefighter, football player, musician, etc.) and how he can be a godly man in many different ways.

The illustrations are very colorful and lively, and my almost-4-year-old son particularly enjoyed seeing the family pets on each page, which bring a little extra humor to the drawings.  I liked that one of the “if that’s what you grow up to be” scenarios was being a dad, since that’s my son’s current answer when I ask him what he wants to be when he grows up.  (Then he slightly revised his answer to be a “poppa dentist.”  Poppa is what he calls my dad…and then I died of cute.) I started working in my father’s office when I was in high school and fell in love with the profession, the practice and his work ethic. He taught me how to be compassionate and strive for excellence. My father says he knew dentistry was a good fit for me from an early age, but he never pushed me to follow in his footsteps and for that I am forever grateful. He knew if I chose dentistry it would have to be because I loved it and had a commitment to the oral health of our patients, not because it was his profession.

The road wasn’t always easy, and I can remember calling him in tears while in dental school, learning from the best in New York, worried that I wouldn’t be able to be the kind of practitioner that I wanted to be … but he was always there to listen and talk me through it. He knew just what to say and has always believed in me, even when I would question what in the world I was doing.

Thankfully my father’s faith and work ethic was passed down, and I did make it through dental school and the transition into private practice, I was always inspired by the work done by my father and the He helped me to succeed, but in my own way, by encouraging me to travel my own unique path.

When I tell people I work with my father, they always seem to say, “Oh … how is that?” I’m always astonished by the question and the uncertainty in their voices. Partnering with my father straight out of dental school was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In fact, it was a no brainer.

Based on the title, I was hoping for something exploring some more unique professions, not just a standard little kid playing firefighter –> teen playing football –> college kid majoring in business.  Interestingly, the last page of the book has some wonderful illustrations of men in all different kinds of interesting professions — chef, astronaut, farmer etc. — so I wonder if that angle was considered at some point during the writing or editing of the book.  I would have also liked to see some diversity in the people illustrated in this book.

Overall, I give it 3 out of 5 stars.  My son has asked to read it more than once, but he mostly loves the illustrations.  This book seems to be written mostly for the parent reading the story to appreciate, rather than for the child listening to it.  For example, the story ends with the mom in the story (now a grandma) helping her son’s baby take his first steps.  I think that’s a little overly sentimental for most 4 year olds to appreciate.

Hey FTC!  BookLook Bloggers sent me this book for free to review.  This is what I think about it.

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16 thoughts on “Book review: Whatever You Grow Up to Be, by Karen Kingsbury

  1. We have a children’s book by Al Yankovic called “When I Grow Up.” It’s just the opposite in terms of the possible professions. Very imaginative and not very realistic. Snail trainer, giraffe milker, gorilla masseuse. Jake LOVES it.
    Shana Norris recently posted…Weekly Menu Plan.My Profile

    • Yep, I really liked the artwork, so we will probably read this again even if it’s not my favorite. I can’t wait to check out this book Shana recommended!

  2. Interesting review. I’m reading a book about writing children’s picture books, and it says the books should appeal equally to the parent and the child. The parent so she will be willing to read it aloud, and the child so he can request it over and over. Sounds like this author focused a bit too much on the parent and not enough on imagining careers that would appeal to young children. How could she have missed including a “poppa dentist”? =)

  3. I’m glad you like it! I read tons of kids books these days, so I feel like I have a pretty good basis for comparison. I’m going to try to include some of our favorites in my monthly reading round-up posts, too.
    Sarah recently posted…Sam at 7 monthsMy Profile

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