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Inspire Young Thinking

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

by | Nov 3, 2012 | By Karin Hurt, Communication, Developing Leadership In Children |

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 

Oh, and if you read this one, you might want to stop by this blog post I wrote about my own leadership lessons learned from The Little Red Hen (and apparently dealing with Cocky Roosters). I just went back and read this article recently. I must have really been coming off dealing with a frustrating leader. LOL

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.

2018 Update Introducing Glowstone Peak

We’re excited to announce our first children’s leadership book, Glowstone Peak: A Story of Courage, Influence, and Hope.

leadership books for children

Glowstone Peak book

buy the book on Amazon!

And hear a bit more of the backstory in this 2020 interview with me and Sebastian on the Spark Creator podcast.

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Steve Borek

    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.

  2. letsgrowleaders

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

  3. Benjamin Evans

    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!

  4. Jared

    Giggle Quack Moo was one of my favorite teamwork books

    • letsgrowleaders

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

  5. robinhollis

    “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

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

  6. Geordan

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


    • letsgrowleaders

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

  7. AK

    Paper bag princess and Dugan the duck were our favorites!

  8. Daniel Cox

    Thank you

  9. Dr. Artika R. Tyner

    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

      Artika, Thanks so much for adding these! Awesome.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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