9 Influential Books CEOs Read as Kids

9 Influential Books CEOs Read as Kids

What book did you read as a kid that helped shape your outlook on life today? 

To help flush out your reading list for you or your children, we asked CEOs and business leaders this question for their best insights. From The Giving Tree to Flush, there are several influential books that CEOs read as kids that may inspire you to add them to your collection as well.  

Here are nine influential books CEOs read as kids:

  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go
  • The Little House on the Prairie
  • Harry Potter Series
  • The Paper Bag Princess
  • The Giving Tree
  • The Book Thief
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
  • Flush


Oh, The Places You’ll Go

“Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.” Something about reading Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss sticks with me today as a CEO, and especially that quote. 98 and 3/4 percent evokes all types of good, realistic questions to think about as a kid. It’s one of the first times you realize that failure might happen, and probably will happen. For entrepreneurs, it’s best to come to that realization early in life. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

The Little House on the Prairie 

I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to a wide range of subjects when I was growing up. I think the most influential book that has affected my outlook today came from the series of books called The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s a story about a girl and her family who must move their home from place to place because of financial difficulty. However, the story also has a very positive message about the ability to put one’s own needs behind those of others and the importance of helping others. I can still remember reading this book many years ago when I was young, and the story stuck with me. It definitely had an enormous impact on my outlook on life today.

Katherine Brown, Spyic

Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter series shaped me as a reader, and being a reader fostered a lifelong love of learning. As I grew up, Harry Potter releases were a huge deal. Bookstores would open for a midnight launch. There were scandalous stories of people rushing in and reading the last pages of the book out loud. There was commotion and shared excitement over A BOOK! It was so exciting to rush to the store and then race to finish the book before hearing a spoiler. The series let my imagination run wild. For me, that excitement carried on from Harry Potter into other series and ultimately into reading and learning itself.

Wesley Jacobs, Apollo Medical Travel

The Paper Bag Princess 

A book that helped shape my outlook on life today is The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. This children’s story was the first story I really got into and had a huge impact on me. The character Elizabeth is a strong, independent woman who we can all relate to; she has dreams and she goes after them. I wasn’t always a strong individual growing up but now since I started focusing more on my goals I am finding myself becoming stronger every day.

Ann Young, Fix The Photo

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein had a particularly large impact on me as a child. It truly taught me to value and respect the relationships and people around me. This book also taught me about appreciating and respecting the nature that surrounds me.

Alex Czarnecki, Cottage

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is beautifully written and such a tragic story. The perspective of the novel is from Death himself, and how he saw World War II. It shaped my outlook on how humans interact with those who are different from us culturally and how we ourselves separate/categorize us into different groups. Yet it only takes a few to change an entire perspective.

Jason Wong, Doe Lashes

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

My father gave this book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, to me when I was about 12. It was fantastic and helped to shape me into the person that I am today. I still regularly find myself using the vernacular of “win/win”, first things first, sharpen the saw etc. I am grateful for this book.

Ineke McMahon, Path To Promotion

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

I read Moneyball a few months after it was published and have never thought about doing anything again without doing data analysis first. I know it’s about baseball, and how to build a winning baseball team based on data. But you can apply the main lessons to the business world as well.

Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC


When I was young, I read and reread Flush more times than I can count. Noah, the main character, and his dad believe that a popular cruise ship was dumping its sewage waste into the ocean, but when his dad tries to out the company, he gets locked up. The book is about Noah’s journey in revealing the ship’s wrongdoings. For me, it was the first book I read where a child saw an adult doing something wrong and working to hold that adult accountable. It really showed me that your age doesn’t have to prevent you from doing the right thing and fighting to help people.

Tom Mumford, Undergrads


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