Check It Out: Public Service

Enjoy learning about public service with these suggestions.
By Sarah Neiderman
A photo collage: a teacher smiling at a student, the book, Act its author Kayla Miller, and a tablet with the title, "Podcasts with Park Rangers."

From government employees to first responders, from teachers to social workers, people who work in the public-service industry have one thing in common: They work to help others. If you’re considering a career in public service, this list of things to read, watch, and listen to will give you some ideas.

To Read:

  • Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults), by Bryan Stevenson Stevenson, a lawyer and human-rights advocate, draws on his work experiences to demonstrate flaws in the criminal-justice system. Anyone interested in becoming a public defender, civil rights lawyer, law-enforcement officer, or corrections officer will find this book interesting. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

  • They Hold the Line: Wildfires, Wildlands, and the Firefighters Who Brave Them, by Dan Paley and Molly Mendoza This picture book is packed with infographics, vivid illustrations, and detailed information about wildfires and the professionals who fight them. Anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to explore an exciting, action-packed career should check out this book. Recommended for ages 7 to 10.

  • Because of Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea Each student in Mr. Terupt’s class has their own perspective, personality, and ideals. This story shows how important a teacher can be in a student’s life, especially when tragedy strikes. Have a box of tissues ready while you read this insightful tearjerker. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

  • Property of the Rebel Librarian, by Allison Varnes When June’s overprotective parents disapprove of the library book she’s reading, June is upset. They make trouble at the school and get the school librarian suspended. But June can’t give up the books she loves, so she finds a creative solution. Anyone who wants to work in a library should check out this inspiring book about the freedom to read. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

  • Act, by Kayla Miller This graphic novel from the Click series centers on a student-council election. (Read an interview with the author from TIME for Kids.) If you hope to run for office or manage a campaign one day, you’ll find sharp insights into the process in this fun, compelling read. Recommended for ages 8 to 12.

To Watch:

  • Abbott Elementary (streaming on Hulu): This light, loving look at elementary school teachers in a Philadelphia school rings true to many teaching professionals. It captures the type of humorous and heart-warming events you can experience when working with kids and their families. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

  • Rescued by Ruby (streaming on Netflix): This movie follows two main characters: a shelter dog and an unconventional state trooper. They join together to take part in an elite K-9 training program. Based on a true story, this is a great movie that gives a window into a law-enforcement career. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

  • Pocketful of Primary (available on YouTube) Have you wondered what being a teacher is like? The videos on this channel offer a glimpse into this popular career. Follow educator Michelle Emerson through her daily routines to learn whether a career as a teacher might be for you. Appropriate for all ages. 

To Listen:

  • Podcasts with Park Rangers This National Parks podcast features interviews with the park rangers, scientists, and historians who work at national parks. Learn all about our amazing national parks and the many different types of professionals who work in them.

  • KidNuz This podcast is a great way to start following political news. Meant for younger listeners who are becoming interested in current events and politics, these short episodes explain the latest headlines in a way that’s accessible to newcomers.