Children’s Books on Leadership– Questions to Inspire Young Thinking post image

Which children’s books are the most helpful in teaching leadership to kids? I posed this question in my online leadership communities, as well as to parents, and a children’s librarian. The suggestions came pouring in. So many of us have fond memories of reading as a child and of reading with our own children. Thank you to all who shared your stories of the stories you love and the meanings they hold.

In culling through the lists, it became clear to me that so many children’s books don’t speak of leadership directly, but they provide a great way to isolate one or two specific leadership variables. My son, Sebastian, age 7 and I went to the library and got a big stack of your suggestions. We’ve been playing a very simple game. We read the children’s book and then he tells me what leadership characteristic the book is about. He got so excited about the game that last Saturday he woke me up at 1 am asking to “play again.”

I am starting with children’s books for the younger set. I have some excitement brewing for the older crowd stay tuned.

Children’s Books on Leadership Foundations

Here’s a start from your suggestions, with links on where to find them.

Please add to the list through your comments.


The Velveteen Rabbit

The Tale of Desperaux

The Emperor’s New Clothes

The King’s Stilts (Seb’s most requested)

Incredible You


The Carrot Seed

The Little Engine That Could

Tortoise and The Hare

Creativity/Problem Solving

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Oh the Thinks You Can Think

There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon

Servant Leadership

The Giving Tree (most popular suggestion)

Rainbow Fish (for the youngest padawans)

Empowerment/ Process

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Ox Cart Man


Crown Me

Stone Soup

The Little Red Hen

Some Questions That Spark Great Kid Conversation

What does this book teach us about leadership?

Who do you admire in this book? Why?

What other choices did ____ have?

What would you have done in this situation? Why?

What do you think happens next in this story?

You can also download the Parent’s Guide to Leadership Free eBook here.

What would you add to the list?
Filed Under:   Communication, Developing Leadership In Children
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

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What People Are Saying

Steve Borek   |   03 November 2012   |   Reply

The Puck Hog was written by Christie Casciano, a local news anchor in Syracuse. I loved the book so much, I sent it to clients as gifts for their kids. It’s one of the better team and leadership books I’ve ever read.

letsgrowleaders   |   03 November 2012   |   Reply

Steve, good morning…. awesome. I have not heard of that one, but will get it. This is going to be fun.

Benjamin Evans   |   03 November 2012   |   Reply

Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel by: Virginia Lee Burton, is an inspiring book which would seem to fit under both perseverance and creativity. It is an oldy but a goody!

letsgrowleaders   |   03 November 2012   |   Reply

thanks, Ben! Great addition.

Jared   |   04 November 2012   |   Reply

Giggle Quack Moo was one of my favorite teamwork books

letsgrowleaders   |   04 November 2012   |   Reply

thanks so much, Jared… I will check it out.

robinhollis   |   14 November 2012   |   Reply

“How to Behave and Why” by Munro Leaf is a great book. I’ve used it at the C-level as well as with Jr. High youth group. It was originally published in the ’40s and has been re-released. The focus is on ethics. It could fit anywhere. Thanks for putting this list together.

letsgrowleaders   |   14 November 2012   |   Reply

Robin, thanks so much. I will check that out.

Geordan   |   21 November 2013   |   Reply

Our 6 year old enjoys “Last in line” about a king who puts
The welfare of others above his own.

letsgrowleaders   |   21 November 2013   |   Reply

Geordan, I haven’t heard of that one. Looking forward to checking it out. Thanks for adding it to the list.

AK   |   23 December 2013   |   Reply

Paper bag princess and Dugan the duck were our favorites!

Daniel Cox   |   02 December 2014   |   Reply

Thank you

Dr. Artika R. Tyner   |   15 August 2015   |   Reply

I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire our Children by Marian Wright Edelman
We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song by Debbie Levy
Both inspire children to become change agents and leaders who make a difference in the world.

Karin Hurt   |   15 August 2015   |   Reply

Artika, Thanks so much for adding these! Awesome.