Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Top Five Books on Entrepeneurs

Click on the title for each book to see book cover and more details.


The Fying Bed
Author:  Nancy Willard
Illustrator: John Thompson
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press
ISBN:  0-590-25610-6
Year: 2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  5.0

  scarcity, poverty, entrepreneurship, wants and needs, consumers

Review:  Guido and his spouse, Maria, live in the beautiful city of Florence in a small apartment over the bakery they inherited from Guido’s father.  Although they work extremely hard and lead frugal lives, the money they generate from the bakery is simply not enough to cover their living costs.  A dwindling customer base is the main reason for this sorry state of affairs, for Guido, unlike his father, skimped on the key ingredients and made flavorless dough.  Although Guido resorted to selling off their furniture, piece by piece, Maria drew the line when he sold their bed and she demanded that he find a new one.

Serendipity leads Guido to an extraordinary bed shop, where he acquires what is, unbeknownst to him, a magical bed.  This bed takes Guido and Maria to a magical town far away, where a master baker gives them a special kind of yeast. When Guido and Maria bake bread with the unusual yeast, the delicious smells and tastes bring them so many new customers that their financial constraints disappear virtually overnight.  Unfortunately, they learn the hard way that such a gift is not to be squandered through greed and short-sightedness.

The Flying Bed offers readers a powerful set of lessons about entrepreneurship and poverty, cleverly woven into an imaginative story with stunning images. Children and adults alike will appreciate the interesting plot, the well-developed characters, and the eye-catching scenes from Florence and the bakery.  This first-rate book makes a valuable addition to any collection of children’s literature with substantive content and dramatic illustrations.  The Flying Bed puts fun and magic into the business of learning economics.

Review by:
 Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title:  Jack of All Tails
Author:  Kim Norman
Illustrator:  David Cark
Publisher:   Dutton Children's Books
ISBN:   978-0-525-47793-8
Year:  2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.0

Concepts:  entrepreneurship, services, jobs, training

Review:  Kristi, a creative child with bright ideas, persuades her family members to start a family business that helps customers with their pet problems.  By acting like people’s pets, Kristi and family help train children how to own, train, and take care of a pet. Funny examples of their antics include eating crickets, chasing balls, and making puddles on the floor.  Kristi helps to promote the business by pinning up posters, designing a website, and posting a sign on the side of their van.  While Kristi’s family members have no trouble finding regular customers, Kristi’s mishaps make it more difficult for her to find her niche.

This amusing and well-illustrated book weaves important economics lessons about entrepreneurship, services, jobs, and training into an interesting and unique story about using one’s talents and starting a family business.  Primary-grade teachers, parents, and volunteers seeking high-quality children’s literature with useful content will be pleased with this selection.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book



A Basket of Bangles: How a Business Grows
Author: Ginger Howard
Illustrator:  Cheryl Kirk Noll
Publisher: Millbrook Press
ISBN: 0-7613-1902-6
Year: 2002
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  3.2

Concepts: entrepreneursip, human resources, economics and gender, credit and loans, scarcity

Summary:   With seed money borrowed from a bank, a young woman and four of her friends in Bangladesh change their lives by starting their own businesses.

Source of Summary: Publisher


Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker
Author:  Kathryn Lasky 
Illustrator:  Nneka Bennett
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 076360253-1
Year: 2000

Concepts: innovation, human resources, entrepreneurship, discrimination, racial inequality, poverty

  Sarah Breedlove Walker, one of the wealthiest women in the United States and owner of the largest black-owned company during the early 1900s, started her life in extreme poverty.  A child of former slaves who worked as sharecroppers in the South, Sarah spent long, grueling hours helping her family by carrying water, picking cotton, pushing a plow, and digging potatoes.  Getting an education was hampered not only by the demands of farm life, but also by terrifying acts of violence committed by the Ku Klux Klan and witnessed firsthand by Sarah.

As a young adult, Sarah despaired at the toll that an inadequate diet and hard labor had taken on her hair, which was so brittle that she had started to go bald.  Inspired by the air of confidence surrounding role models such as Margaret Washington, wife of Booker T., Sarah began working with natural ingredients to develop hair care products designed specifically for the needs of black women.  Not only did she develop an innovative line of beauty products, she also created a highly successful company ‒ the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company ‒ and she became a leading philanthropist.

This carefully-researched book gets top marks for shining the spotlight on one of the most influential U.S. business leaders who made her riches despite the institutionalized discrimination she faced at the time against women and against blacks. The stunning illustrations work extremely well in adding to the emotional and historical context. Parents and teachers seeking to teach children about entrepreneurship will value this biographical work.

Review by:
 Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 

How to Get This Book

Title: Boom Town
Author: Sonia Levitin 
Illustrator: Cat Bowman Smith
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 0-531-30043-5
Year: 1998
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.7

Concepts: goods, services, producers, entrepreneurship

Summary: After her family moves to California where her father goes to work in the gold fields, Amanda decides to make her own fortune baking pies and she encourages others to provide the necessary services--from a general store to a school--that enables her town to prosper.

Source of Summary: Publisher