Brian Weisfeld | The Children’s Book Review | August 28, 2019
My daughters have earned Lemonade Stand MBAs. Hawking lemonade from the end of our driveway, they’ve learned life lessons such as looking people in the eye, starting a conversation, giving a sales pitch, and answering the questions they want to answer not just the one that was asked. And they’ve learned all this while quenching our neighbors’ thirst and earning a buck for themselves or a worthy cause (more the latter than the former but that’s a topic for another blog post).
I feel strongly that an entrepreneurial mindset will help kids succeed in life regardless of the path they choose. Those lemonade stand lessons apply not only to future CEOs but will also help future teachers, lawyers, doctors, and parents reach their potential.
In my research to create my novel series The Startup Squad, I read a lot of children’s books that have an entrepreneurial theme and can inspire your kids to start their first businesses. Below are descriptions of some of my favorites. Each description includes a link to a companion guide on The Startup Squad’s website that will help you and your young entrepreneur translate the narrative into lessons they can apply to start their own businesses.
Written by Rana Diorio and Emma D. Dryden
Illustrated by Ken Min
This is a picture book that contains an MBA-quality description of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. When Rae witnesses an ice cream-and-doggie mishap, she’s inspired to create a big-scale solution to help get dogs clean. The pictures show Rae building her dog washing business while the words describe the characteristics needed to be an entrepreneur such as taking risks, learning from your mistakes, feeling confident about your judgment, and identifying a need and being brave enough to do something about it.
Don’t think of this as just a picture book; the lessons in here are appropriate for anyone including teens, grads, even adults—buy a copy for your friend who just started her own business!
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Little Pickle Press | January 26, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1939775122
Written by Jen Malone and Gail Nall
This is a fun read about four friends, each with their own personal motivations for wanting to start a party-planning business together. The chapters are written from the perspectives of each of the four girls on a rotating basis which makes for an easy read as well as a strong connection with the characters. Each chapter begins with either a to-do list, horoscope, word definition, or a recipe for a dish that you can cook with your daughters (S’more’s Cookie Bars! Homemade Pita Chips!).
The book is filled with examples of the power of grit, refusal to fail, and growth mindset; something goes extremely wrong at every one of the girls’ parties. It’s up the four girls to persevere and find creative solutions to the problems which include natural disasters, frenemy sabotage, and a too-cool-for-school tweeting grandmother who maxes out the guest list. The girls’ refusal to give up in the face of adversity is a mark of true entrepreneurs.
You’re Invitedis an entertaining read in which the characters exemplify grit, determination, and a refusal to give up. If your kids enjoy this book, which I believe they will, there is a sequel: You’re Invited, Too.
Ages 9-13 | Publisher: Aladdin | May 19, 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-1481431965
Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are the founding members of The Baby-sitters Club and, more importantly, best friends in this classic series. The four girls overcome all sorts of challenges while babysitting and while managing their family and personal relationships. There are over 100(!) titles in the original classic series
The Baby-sitters Club graphic novels rebirth this classic friendship tale as a graphic novel while also giving readers a front row seat to the building of a business – from the moment of inspiration, through the forming of the team, to managing a business as a team of diverse personalities.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks | April 1, 2010 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0545174756
Written by Sundee T. Frazier
Cleopatra Edison Oliver’s purpose is to be a “high-climbing, heights-defying, limit-pushing entrepreneur.” Cleo is always launching a new business or applying her business skills to situations with her family (she’s adopted and wonders about her birth parents), friends (who think she’s a little too focused on business), and school (where she tries to sell her product to her arch-enemy). When her fifth-grade teacher assigns the class a “Passion Project,” Cleo decides to start Cleo’s Quick and Painless Tooth Removal Service – using her brother’s nerf gun to pull teeth so kids can get their Tooth Fairy money early.
While Cleo is a little extreme (she changed her middle name so that her initials would spell C.E.O.), the book includes a lot of great business content wrapped up in a well-written story about a precocious girl finding her way in the world.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | January 26, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545822367
Written by Coco Simon
The first of over 30 books in the series, each book is written in the first person from the perspective of one of four friends on a rotating basis. Katie Brown’s first days of middle school are awful. But when she brings a PB&J cupcake to lunch, it bonds her with Mia, Emma, and Alexis and the four girls decide to start a cupcake club. The series is about new friendships and old, new problems (cyber-bullying) and old (friendship dynamics), and how a love of cupcakes and a business can bring girls together.
A recipe for a different cupcake is included at the back of each book to help your kids jump start their own cupcake business!
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Simon Spotlight | May 3, 2011 | ISBN-13: 978-1442422759
About Brian Weisfeld
Brian Weisfeld has been building businesses his entire life. In elementary school, he bought 95 pounds of gummy bears and hired his friends to sell them. As a teen, he made and sold mixtapes (ask your parents what those are), sorted baseball cards (he got paid in cards), babysat four days a week after school, and sold nuts and dried fruit (and more gummy bears) in a neighborhood store. As an adult, Brian helped build a number of well-known billion-dollar companies including IMAX Corporation and Coupons. Brian is the Founder and Chief Squad Officer of The Startup Squad, an initiative dedicated to helping girls reach their potential, whatever their passions. Brian lives in Silicon Valley and can often be found eating gummy bears with his wife while watching his two daughters sell lemonade from the end of their driveway.
Visit Brian’s website to email him directly and sign up for his newsletter.
Written by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear
Publisher’s Synopsis: Girls mean business in a brand-new middle grade series about friendship and entrepreneurship!
All the great leaders had to start somewhere. And Theresa (“Resa” for short) is starting with the lemonade stand competition her teacher assigned to the class―but making it a success is going to be a lot harder than Resa thinks.
The prize: line-skipping tickets to Adventure Central. The competition: Val, Resa’s middle school nemesis. And the biggest obstacle to success: Resa’s own teammates. Harriet is the class clown, Amelia is the new girl who thinks she knows best, and Didi is Resa’s steadfast friend―who doesn’t know the first thing about making or selling lemonade. The four of them quickly realize that the recipe for success is tough to perfect―but listening to each other is the first step. And making new friends might be the most important one…
The back of each book features tips from the Startup Squad and an inspirational profile of a girl entrepreneur!
Ages 8-11 | Publisher: Imprint | May 7, 2019 | ISBN-13: 978-1250180407
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Brian Weisfeld, co-author of The Startup Squad, selected the 5 Kids Books for Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Entrepreneurial Books and Middle Grade Books.