16 Children's Books About Leadership

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Are You the Pirate Captain? book
#1
Are You the Pirate Captain?
Written by Gareth P. Jones and illustrated by Garry Parsons
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-9

First Mate Hugh has the whole crew and the pirate ship ready, but they can't set sail until they find a captain! Come on this swashbuckling adventure as Hugh and his scurvy seadogs try to find the perfect pirate for the job. Rather than a peg leg or a hook, it turns out that what their captain needs is the brains to lead! Endpages adorned with lively pirate songs make this book a seaworthy tale from beginning to end!

Breakout! book
#2
Breakout!
Written and illustrated by Stacy Davidowitz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

It’s the end of the summer, which means one thing: Color War time! Color War is the event of the summer, a massive camp-wide competition. The camp is divided into two teams, Blue and White, with upper campers vying for the envied spot of lieutenant, a team leader position. Jenny assumes she’s got lieutenant in the bag, being a “popular girl” and all. And Play Dough sure hopes he does too—members of his family have been White team lieutenants for generations! But when assignments are announced, both are in for a surprise. Play Dough’s a lieutenant all right—for the enemy Blue team—and Jenny isn’t lieutenant at all. So who is? Jamie, Jenny’s sidekick. With the entire camp amping up for an all-out war, can Jenny and Play Dough overcome expectations and lead their teams to victory?

Zack Delacruz book
#3
Zack Delacruz
Written by Jeff Anderson and illustrated by Tad Carpenter
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Zack Delacruz is unnoticed at his middle school--and that's just the way he likes it. But a school assembly, a typhoon of spit, and an uncharacteristic moment of bravery are all it takes to change everything. Suddenly Zack is in charge of the class fundraiser. Worse, his partner is the school's biggest bully! If they don't sell all the chocolate bars, there will be no dance for the sixth grade. Zack never wanted to be a hero, but with his classmates' hopes on the line, can he save the day?

Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth book
#4
Zack Delacruz: Me and My Big Mouth
Written by Jeff Anderson and illustrated by Tad Carpenter
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Zack Delacruz is unnoticed at his middle school—and that’s just the way he likes it. But a school assembly, a typhoon of spit, and an uncharacteristic moment of bravery are all it takes to change everything. Suddenly Zack is in charge of the class fundraiser. Worse, his partner is the school’s biggest bully! If they don’t sell all the chocolate bars, there will be no dance for the sixth grade. Zack never wanted to be a hero, but with his classmates’ hopes on the line, can he save the day?

Bounce Back book
#5
Bounce Back
Written by Hena Khan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the third book in an exciting chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Zayd has a plan. He’s ready to take the reins as team captain of the Gold Team. But when an injury leaves him on the sidelines, his plans get derailed. Can Zayd learn what it means to be a leader if he’s not the one calling the shots?

Crown of Three book
#6
Crown of Three
Written and illustrated by JD Rinehart
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

"Toronia, a kingdom composed of three realms, is wracked with civil war. King Brutan rules with an iron fist. The kingdom's only hope comes in the form of Brutan's illegitimate triplets, prophesied to kill the king and rule together in peace. Separated at birth and scattered throughout the realms, the triplets face a desperate fight to secure their destiny"

The Lost Realm book
#7
The Lost Realm
Written and illustrated by JD Rinehart
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Family secrets combine with fantasy in this epic tale of battle, magic, strange creatures, power, and fate, in a sweeping new middle grade series that Publishers Weekly called “Game of Thrones on a mellow day.”

A  Kingdom  Rises book
#8
A Kingdom Rises
Written and illustrated by JD Rinehart
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Family secrets combine with fantasy in this epic tale of battle, magic, strange creatures, power, and fate, in this final novel in a sweeping middle grade series that Publishers Weekly called “Game of Thrones on a mellow day.”An ancient prophecy says that when three stars appear in the sky, triplets will take the throne and peace will come to the land. The stars have appeared, and the triplets are Gulph, Tarlan, and Elodie. But the prophecy appears to have failed.Tarlan saw Gulph fall from a burning tower during a final confrontation with their undead father. There’s no way Gulph could have survived...even with his special abilities.As for his sister, Elodie, Tarlan’s convinced that she’s a traitor who betrayed the rebellion and her family just so she could have the throne to herself.With nothing left to believe in, Tarlan’s prepared to abandon both the cause and his pack of wild animals, and head north.But appearances can be deceiving. And in a world of magic and deceit, mistaking lies for truth can be deadly.

Ready, Set, Blast Off! book
#9
Ready, Set, Blast Off!
Written by Ray O’Ryan and illustrated by Jason Kraft
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

"Picked to represent their planet Nebulon in the Interstellar Space Race, Zack and his friends navigate their specially designed car through an underwater maze, around planetary rings, and through the stars! But when trouble stirs within the team, Zack must take charge. Can he lead them to victory?"--

On Point book
#10
On Point
Written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in an exciting new chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Now that Zayd has made the Gold Team, he’s hustling hard and loving every minute of the season. But when team starts to struggle, Zayd can’t help wondering if it has something to do with him. Even worse, his best friend Adam suddenly starts acting like he doesn’t care about basketball anymore, even though they are finally teammates. He stops playing basketball with Zayd at recess and starts hanging out with other kids. Then, Adam up and quits the Gold Team to play football instead. While his uncle’s wedding preparations turn life into a circus at home, Zayd is left on his own to figure things out. He has to decide how to still be friends with Adam and step up to fill the empty shoes he left on the court. Does Zayd have what it takes to be on point and lead his team back to victory?

So Tall Within book
#11
So Tall Within
Written by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Daniel Minter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From celebrated author Gary D. Schmidt comes a picture book biography of a giant in the struggle for civil rights, perfectly pitched for readers today. Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans. Her story is told with lyricism and pathos by Gary D. Schmidt, one of the most celebrated writers for children in the twenty-first century, and brought to life by award winning and fine artist Daniel Minter. This combination of talent is just right for introducing this legendary figure to a new generation of children.

Swift Wings book
#12
Swift Wings
Written by Joanne LeBlanc-Haley and illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

Although he was a great solo flyer, Jake could not fly with the other swifts. Every time he tried, he bumped into one bird, knocked another into a spin, and soon destroyed the perfect formation. "Oh, no!" Jake heard behind him. "Jake's here! We'll never get it right if he's with us." Jake felt his confidence slipping away.

Gandhi book
#13
Gandhi
Written by Alice B. McGinty and illustrated by Thomas Gonzales
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Mohandas Gandhi’s 24-day March to the Sea, from March 12 to April 5, 1930, was a pivotal moment in India’s quest to become an independent country no longer ruled by Great Britain. With over 70 marchers, Gandhi walked from his hometown near Ahmedabab to the sea coast by the village of Dandi. The march was a non-violent means to protest the taxes that Great Britain had imposed on salt -- not the salt that the Indians could get from the sea, but the salt that Great Britain forced them to buy. Gandhi believed that peaceful protests were an effective way to challenge British law, and his peaceful but ultimately successful movement became known as Satyagraha.

Slick book
#14
Slick
Written by Sara Cassidy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Thirteen-year old Liza hates her mother's boyfriend. While researching the oil company he works for, she discovers a lawsuit against it for compensation long overdue to Guatemalan farmers. She starts a group at school called GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and launches an attack on Argenta Oil.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez book
#15
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
Written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The newest picture book from the creators of Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Ada Twist, Scientist stars Sofia Valdez, an activist and community leader who stands up for what she believes in! Every morning, Abuelo walks Sofia to school . . . until one day, when Abuelo hurts his ankle at a local landfill and he can no longer do so. Sofia misses her Abuelo and wonders what she can do about the dangerous Mount Trashmore. Then she gets an idea--the town can turn the slimy mess into a park! She brainstorms and plans and finally works up the courage to go to City Hall--only to be told by a clerk that she can't build a park because she's just a kid! Sofia is down but not out, and she sets out to prove what one kid can do. Collect them all! Add these other STEM favorites from #1 New York Times bestselling team Andrea Beaty and David Roberts to your family library today! Rosie Revere, Engineer Iggy Peck, Architect Ada Twist, Scientist Rosie Revere and the Raucous Riveters Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants Ada Twist's Big Project Book for Stellar Scientists Iggy Peck's Big Project Book for Amazing Architects Rosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers Questioneers Family Calendar, coming May 2019!

Team Players book
#16
Team Players
Written and illustrated by Mike Lupica
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Cassie must learn that you can’t “fix” someone else after a girl with Aspergers joins her softball team in the fourth and final book of the Home Team series from New York Times bestselling author and sports-writing legend Mike Lupica. Cassie Bennett is great at being in charge. She always knows what to do to lead her teams to victory, keep her many groups of friends together, or fix any problem that comes her way. So when Sarah Milligan, an autistic girl with unreal softball skills, joins Cassie’s team, Cassie’s sure she can help her fit in with the team. But before long it’s obvious that being around so many people is really hard for Sarah, and the more Cassie tries to reach out and involve her, the more Sarah pushes her away, sometimes literally. It doesn’t help that Cassie’s teammates aren’t as interested in helping Sarah as they are in making sure they make it to the new softball All-Star Tournament that’ll be televised just like the Little League World Series. Soon no one besides Cassie seems to even want Sarah on the team anymore, and the harder Cassie tries to bring everyone together, the worse things seem to get. Cassie Bennett never backs down from a challenge, but can she realize that maybe the challenge isn’t fixing a problem in someone else, but in herself? Or will her stubbornness lead her to lose more than just softball games?

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!