10 Books for Budding Entrepreneurs and Can-Do Kids
by Richard Rende, Ph.D.
Books about entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurial types, can instill lessons about the hard work, creativity, and determination it takes to translate a vision into a reality. Whether or not your child grows up to be an entrepreneur, these books can help them think about what they want to do when they get older, which is really an exercise in pretend play (a highly prized activity amongst developmental experts).
Here are a few book suggestions to bring the world of entrepreneurship into a child’s hands and mind.
Even preschoolers can have fun reading about a kid entrepreneur. The throwback lemonade stand still seems to hold appeal, and books like Camila’s Lemonade Stand by Lizzy Duncan, Brian Cunningham, and Giles Jackson can take young minds on a little adventure ride with fun characters, and show how plucky little ones can be innovative and work with others.
Grade School and Middle School
Fictional books for kids between 8 and 12 years of age can capture a kid’s interest while introducing them to the life lessons embedded in being an entrepreneur. Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur by Luke Sharpe combines fun banter and illustrations with an engaging story about a young inventor whose success in creating somewhat kooky products impacts his social world.
In Mary Casanova’s Grace Stirs It Up, an American Girl character has to balance starting a baking business with her friends along with taking care of a new dog — providing a nice blend of themes of managing responsibilities and working with others.
Biographical works help kids in this age range learn about the lives of people who struck out on their own. Conversations with J.K. Rowling by Lindsey Fraser not only provides animated information about the childhood of an enormously successful author, but also, in the process, broadens the conception of what it is to be entrepreneurial.
There are great practical guides for the budding entrepreneur in this age range too. Gabrielle Williams’s The Making of a Young Entrepreneur: The Kid’s Guide to Developing the Mind-Set for Success provides encouragement and tips to build a platform for getting started young. If you’re looking for a guide with a long shelf-life, Better Than a Lemonade Stand!: Small Business Ideas for Kids by Daryl Bernstein has been updated with fun — and real — suggestions for launching a business as a kid. Another fantastic option is Kidpreneurs: Young Entrepreneurs with Big Ideas!, a book by Adam Toren and Matthew Toren that offers many suggestions in an engaging way to plant seeds about the hows and the whys of entrepreneurship.
For the young teen, I would suggest books about highly influential entrepreneurs in order to get them thinking about the intriguing lives they’ve led. For example, Karen Blumenthal’s Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different reveals how one entrepreneur’s life could touch so many people — and how there are real individuals behind many of the inventions that have become so commonplace and influential.
Other books can give the young teen a taste for the nearly infinite possibilities that could result from application of their talent and dedication. In this vein, The Coolest Startups in America by Doreen Bloch is presented in a casual style and provides not only information on lots of startups, but conveys the excitement of this field. Finally, Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens presents grounded advice that goes straight to the heart of what it is to be entrepreneurial, and as such can be applied to anything a teen may ever want to do.
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