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Saturday, April 3, 2010

10 Children's Books Every Business Student Should Read

Recently, I was emailed by Emma Taylor from who directed me to an article entitled 10 Children's Books Every Business Student Should Read. I'm not sure how many of your are aware of this, but I'm a business major! When I finally graduate, I'll have a degree in Marketing. I don't know how many of my readers are going into a business related major, but I find this article to be interesting regardless of what you're planning to do career-wise. Who knew that children's books could be so applicable to real life?

As if business school isn’t busy enough for you, here is a recommendation for ten books you should definitely add to your reading list. The good news is that they are relatively short, and therefore easy to read. The better news is that if you look beyond the fact that these books are marketed as children’s books, they each contain important lessons that any business student would do well to remember as she makes her way through the fast-paced, power-driven world of business. Tales of perseverance, creativity, resourcefulness, and even a few cautionary tales are included in this list of children’s books every business student should read.

1. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. The Lorax tells the tale of the greedy and short-sighted Once-ler who chops down all his resources in an effort to grow his business. Not only does he despoil the environment, but he also puts himself out of business. This book by the beloved Dr. Seuss is a must-read for any business student as it stresses the importance of balance and vision in growing a business as well as a reminder that natural resources must be dealt with respectfully.

2. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. This classic children’s book tells of a train hauling toys and other goodies to a village at the other side of a mountain, but it has broken down. The train tries to get help from larger engines, who just pass him by. Finally, a smaller engine takes up the cause, but discovers he may have taken on more than he can handle. Through determination and perseverance, the little engine makes it up the mountain and delivers the train to the village. Any business student can see the simple, yet powerful message imparted in this book–determination and the power of positive thinking can overcome any obstacle.

3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. In Caps for Sale, a cap salesman travels through town showcasing his wares stacked upon his head. After a long day with no sales, and therefore, no food, he sits down to rest against a tree. When he awakens, he discovers his caps are gone and have been taken by a tree full of monkeys, each wearing one of his caps. The salesman must figure out how to get his product back and does so almost by accident. This book demonstrates some of the realities of business (that times can be slow and may affect your ability to earn a livelihood), but also shows creative marketing and that a smart business person must rely on ingenuity to protect his resources.

4. Charlotte’s Web by EB White. Most consider this classic tale to be about Wilbur, the pig rescued by a young girl from her father’s ax. A closer look shows that the true protagonist and heroine of the story is the title character, Charlotte. Charlotte is a spider who saves Wilber’s life a second time when she comes up with the idea of spelling out Wilber’s magnificent qualities in her web. Each time she advertises something special about Wilber, his fame grows. Any business student studying marketing will quickly recognize a successful advertising campaign. Charlotte kept her resourceful solution creative by changing the words she used each time. This book provides a glimpse into clever marketing and the benefits of loyalty to the customer.

5. Beyond the Traditional Lemonade Stand by Randi Lynn Millward. This book provides detailed information on how children can get any small business up and running. With insight into accounting and finance as well as creative ways to make money, this book will give business students an opportunity to think about entrepreneurship in a different way. Whether you ran a lemonade stand as a kid or not, read this book to revisit the idea of young entrepreneurship.

6. The Story of the Three Little Pigs. Just about everyone has heard the story of the three little pigs and their attempts at building a wolf-proof house. However, the extended version of this popular fairy tale describes the third little pig as a shrewd thinker always one step ahead of the competition. After the failure of the first two pigs, the third pig builds his brick house, to the chagrin of the wolf. The wolf then sets out to trick the pig out of his house in an effort to eat him. The pig, however, always stays one step ahead of the wolf, which ensures his survival. Just like the pig and the wolf, a smart business person needs to know how to stay ahead of the competition in order to keep her business alive.

7. Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall. Ox-Cart Man tells the story of a family in 18th century New England who grow and make what they can throughout the year, then the father takes their goods into town to trade for those items they cannot provide for themselves. The book illustrates the success and growth of the family business, as well as the idea that a business must work as a part of the community. Business students would do well to remember the ideas present in this book, including the circle of life and growth of a business and the interdependence of complementary industries.

8. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. Students should read this story about Horton, an elephant who stands up for a world of people he discovers in a speck of dust on a clover, as a reminder that all people deserve respect. Horton tries his best to tell others in the jungle about this race of tiny people, but the others in the jungle are not willing to accept his wild story. Horton’s loyalty to the people in the speck of dust and his perseverance to have their existence recognized are qualities any business person should remember. In a field that defines success by the amount of money accumulated, the people can easily be forgotten. This book is a good reminder of the people behind the money and their intrinsic value. Standing up for the little people and not being afraid to appear different to the masses are important lessons for all to remember.

9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The Giving Tree sparks heated debate among many as it demonstrates both the desire to give all that one has to a loved one and the human tendency to take what is available. The tree in the title watches a young boy grow up, and he moves from swinging on her branches and climbing her trunk to selling her apples, taking all her branches, and cutting down her trunk. While it appears that the tree is willingly giving of herself to help the boy in his life, the boy takes without returning anything to the tree. Eventually, the tree has only a trunk upon which the boy (now an old man) can sit and rest. Like the message in The Lorax, The Giving Tree also serves a reminder that taking resources without giving something in return will eventually result in the demise of the source. On a more human level, it also demonstrates that relationships are best nurtured with a cooperative strategy than a selfish one–both lessons important for those going into business.

10. The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton. This non-fiction picture book tells the story of brothers, Bob and Joe Switzer. As children, Bob wanted to become a doctor and Joe loved putting on magic acts for people. Working together, the brothers stumbled upon a way to create fluorescent paint that glowed in the dark. This simple, yet engaging tale shows how creativity, ingenuity, and chasing one’s dreams can pave the way to big accomplishments. Any business student that dreams of entrepreneurship will enjoy the inspiration in this true story.

To view the orginal published article, go here.


  1. I'm thinking about being a business major...I've read 7 of those when I was little : D

  2. I cried at the end of the lorax by Dr. Seuss it always made me really sad!

  3. This list is awesome! I'm also thinking of a business major, but it is still so far away that I'll probably change my mind 8 times before deciding. :)

  4. What a great list. I hadn't thought about these books in this light. lol

  5. Now this is a cool pairing of two things I wouldn't have thought of putting together. Excellent list.


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