7 books for teaching young children how to be great leaders

It’s never too early to start giving your kids lessons in leading others.

While something like “7 Habits of Highly Effective Preschoolers” might be a bit excessive, there are some simple stories and ideas on leadership in the books below that will help young children build the traits and skills that will set them on the path to becoming courageous, compassionate and positive leaders.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy is different than the other fish in his school. But when the other fish are scared of the dangers in the deep water, he learns how to combine his uniqueness with a little bravery, ingenuity and teamwork to lead his friends to overcome their fears.

My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marion Dane Bauer
This book, aimed at beginning readers, describes Dr. King’s journey from a child who sees social injustice all around him to the iconic civil rights leader who helped Americans move closer to racial equality.

Little Blue Truck by Jill McElmurry
This board book is a great story for teaching toddlers how they can overcome obstacles with a little help from their friends. With fun truck and animal noises, it will help them learn compassion, perseverance and teamwork—all traits of a good leader.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
This classic encourages children to have confidence in themselves and broaden their horizons. Yet it doesn’t shy away from telling them that they’ll face a variety of challenges along the way; it gives them the encouragement that they have the potential to do whatever they set their mind to.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter
As a child in London, Jane Goodall would observe the activities of birds. This love of watching wildlife eventually took her to the jungles of Africa, where she documented the lives of chimpanzees in great detail. This book shows young children how to become a leader in one’s chosen field, and for young girls, it offers a female role model in the sciences.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
A boy named Duncan opens his box of crayons one day and finds it empty. That’s because they’ve gone on strike due to various grievances, which include overwork, boredom and professional jealousy. In the end, a solution is reached that makes everyone happy. This funny story shows that part of leading is about understanding the perspectives and feelings of others.

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
This timeless tale can be summed up in a single line: “I think I can.” It’s a great tool for teaching children to believe in themselves through positive self-talk. It also teaches children that leading means working as a team, staying positive and having the courage to face any challenges that come your way.

For more tips and activities to help children build strong social-emotional skills, visit our parent resources page.

Also, if you’re using purchasing the books through Amazon, you can also give back to the Ounce, and the children and families we serve, by using Amazon Smile and selecting the Ounce of Prevention Fund as your chosen nonprofit.