Which kid never felt the need to have some money of their own? Well, if you’ve got a budding business owner, these best middle grade books about entrepreneurship may just be the inspiration they need. Although there are several non-fiction books about starting a business, I’m a believer in the power of storytelling. These stories are inspiring — although some occasionally border on unrealistic — and will help kids who either want to start a small business or support their family-owned businesses with more vim.
You’ll find one set of books about kids who start and run functional businesses and another about kids who try to help a family business get back on its feet, with some serious business strategies.
Middle Grade Books About Entrepreneurship (Starting a Business)
These are the best middle grade books about entrepreneurship with kids starting a business:
The Lemonade War
Published: April 23, 2007
Fourth-grader Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister, Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart, but not especially good with people. So when the siblings’ lemonade stand war begins, there really is no telling who will win—or even if their fight will ever end. Brimming with savvy marketing tips for making money at any business, definitions of business terms, charts, diagrams, and even math problems, this fresh, funny, emotionally charged novel subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.
J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
Published: February 23, 2021
J.D. has a big problem–it’s the night before the start of third grade and his mom has just given him his first and worst home haircut. When the steady stream of insults from the entire student body of Douglass Elementary becomes too much for J.D., he takes matters into his own hands and discovers that, unlike his mom, he’s a genius with the clippers. His work makes him the talk of the town and brings him enough hair business to open a barbershop from his bedroom. But when Henry Jr., the owner of the only official local barbershop, realizes he’s losing clients to J.D., he tries to shut him down for good. How do you find out who’s the best barber in all of Meridian, Mississippi? With a GREAT BARBER BATTLE!
A Soft Place to Land
Published: September 14, 2021
Joy Taylor has always believed home is the house she lived in her entire life. But then her dad lost his job, and suddenly, home becomes a tiny apartment with thin walls, shared bedrooms, and a place for tense arguments between Mom and Dad. Hardest of all, Joy doesn’t have her music to escape through anymore. Without enough funds, her dreams of becoming a great pianist—and one day, a film score composer—have been put on hold.
A friendly new neighbor her age lets Joy in on the complex’s best-kept secret: the Hideout, a cozy refuge that only the kids know about. And it’s in this little hideaway that Joy starts exchanging secret messages with another kid in the building who also seems to be struggling, until—abruptly, they stop writing back. What if they’re in trouble?
Joy is determined to find out who this mystery writer is, fast, but between trying to raise funds for her music lessons, keeping on a brave face for her little sister, and worrying about her parents’ marriage, Joy isn’t sure how to keep her own head above water.
The Babysitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea
Published: April 28, 2015
Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are best friends and founding members of The Baby-sitters Club. Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbors, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day. Baby-sitting isn’t always easy, and neither is dealing with strict parents, new families, fashion emergencies, and mysterious secrets. But no matter what, the BSC have what they need most: friendship.Raina Telgemeier, using the signature style featured in her acclaimed graphic novels Smile and Sisters, perfectly captures all the drama and humor of the original novel!
Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero
Published: August 18, 2020
Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it’s a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama’s gone totally silent.
Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own–once she stops hassling Isaiah.
And when things get really tough, there’s Daddy’s journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad’s tales were real. He could use those powers right about now!
Jelly Bean Summer
Published: May 2, 2017
Joyce is desperate to get out of the room she shares with her older sister. All she wants is some peace and quiet, not the kind that fills the space left by her missing brother and tastes like butterscotch gone sour, the kind where you can breathe deep and see the stars.
So she moves to the roof. Up there it’s nothing but blue sky. Blue sky and….another roof dweller? Joyce soon discovers she’s not the only one who’s been driven to rooftop living. With the help of a pair of binoculars, a sketch pad, and a pen, Joyce makes an unexpected friend and sets in motion a summer she’ll never forget.
Lunch Money (Rise and Shine)
Published: July 1, 2005
Greg Kenton has always had a natural talent for making money — despite the annoying rivalry of his neighbor Maura Shaw. Then, just before sixth grade, Greg makes a discovery: Almost every kid at school has an extra quarter or two to spend almost every day.
Multiply a few quarters by a few hundred kids, and for Greg, school suddenly looks like a giant piggy bank. All he needs is the right hammer to crack it open. Candy and gum? Little toys? Sure, kids would love to buy stuff like that at school. But would teachers and the principal permit it? Not likely.
But how about comic books? Comic books might work. Especially the chunky little ones that Greg writes and illustrates himself. Because everybody knows that school always encourages reading and writing and creativity and individual initiative, right?
In this funny and timely novel, Andrew Clements again holds up a mirror to real life, and invites young readers to think about money, school, friendship, and what it means to be a success.
Payback on Poplar Lane
Published: January 30, 2018
Ways to Run (Ruin) a Successful Business:
1. Hire your neighbor as an (unpaid) intern.
2. Make them do all the work.
3. Take all the credit.
4. Bask in the glow of your achievements.
5. Completely underestimate your neighbor.
6. Do not expect payback.
Published: October 18, 2016
To twelve-year-old Molly Nathans, perfect is:
―The number four
―The tip of a newly sharpened No. 2 pencil
―A crisp white pad of paper
―Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines
What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly knows that promises are sometimes broken, so she hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Poetry Slam Contest. The winner is honored at a fancy banquet with white tablecloths. Molly is sure her mother would never miss that. Right…?
But as time passes, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep Molly’s world from spinning out of control. In this fresh-voiced debut novel, one girl learns there is no such thing as perfect.
The Fresh New Face of Griselda
Published: August 27, 2019
Griselda “Geez” Zaragoza has a love for beautiful things, like her collection of vintage teacups and the flower garden she and her dad planted in the front yard. But when his business fails, Griselda loses not just her home, but also her confidence and her trust in her unflappable parents.
Tagging along with big sister Maribel, who postponed college for a job selling Alma Cosmetics, Geez dreams up a way to reclaim the life she thinks she lost. If she can sell enough tubes of glistening, glittery Alma lip gloss, she’ll win a cash prize that could help jump start her dad’s business.
With ups and downs along the way, Geez will discover that beauty isn’t just lost or found, but made and re-made.
Published: February 4, 2020
When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.
Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding–and find the courage she never knew she had?
In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.
Katie and the Cupcake Cure
Published: May 7, 2013
Katie Brown is miserable when her best friend is invited to join the Popular Girls Club and Katie is left out. Is there an Unpopular Girls Club she can join? Fortunately, Katie finds her way with a great new group of friends—Mia, Emma, and Alexis—and together they form the Cupcake Club. Sometimes starting from scratch turns out to be the icing on the cupcake!
Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners
Published: November 21, 2017
1 girl with 1 best friend
1 middle school project
3 huge, slobbery dogs
A recipe for success . . . or disaster?
Most kids would dread the start of middle school and the year-long Explorations project that comes with it, but Ana knows that her + her best friend Lily + their plan to write and sell their own cookbook is a recipe for success. Lily’s not just the perfect partner in culinary crime—she’s also the only person in the world who understands Ana’s need to wash her hands five times before picking up a spatula, and would never make fun of her for it.
But Ana and Lily’s plan for edible entrepreneurship turns into one big baking disaster when they’re assigned to different partners for their projects. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Lily seems more excited to get to know her new partner than bummed about being separated, Lily and her new friend plan to use the cookbook idea for themselves—and they didn’t even ask! Worse, Ana’s partner is Dasher, the strange new girl from Alaska, and she wants to do their project on the weirdest thing imaginable: sled dog racing.
Dasher’s dogs are scary, slobbery, and decidedly not germ-free, but Ana thinks she’s found a loophole when she agrees to bake pancakes for spectators while Dasher mushes in a local race. That is, until Dasher sprains her ankle and has to drop out of the running. Can Ana learn to mush—and overcome her anxiety—in time to save her friendships, finish her project, and compete in the big race?
All Four Stars
Published: November 21, 2017
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?
Katie the Catsitter
Published: January 5, 2021
Katie is dreading the boring summer ahead while her best friends are all away at camp–something that’s way out of Katie and her mom’s budget, UNLESS Katie can figure out a way to earn the money for camp herself. But when Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life get interesting. First, Madeline has 217 cats (!) and they’re not exactly . . . normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out EXACTLY when the city’s most notorious villain commits crimes?! Is it possible that Katie’s upstairs neighbor is really a super villain? Can Katie wrangle a whole lot of wayward cats, save a best friendship (why is Beth barely writing back? And who’s this boy she keeps talking about?!), AND crack the biggest story in the city’s history? Some heroes have capes . . . Katie has cats!
How to Win a Slime War
Published: September 14, 2021
Alex Manalo and his dad have just moved back to Sacramento to help out with their extended family’s struggling Filipino market. While Alex likes helping in the store, his true passion is making slime! He comes up with his own recipes and plays with ingredients, colors, and different bumpy or sparkly bits, which make his slime truly special. A new friend encourages Alex to sell his creations at school, which leads to a sell-off battle with a girl who previously had a slime-opoly. Winner gets bragging rights and the right to be the only slime game in town.
But Alex’s dad thinks Alex should be focused more on “traditional” boy pastimes and less on slime. As the new soccer coach, Dad gets Alex to join the team. Even though he hates sports, Alex gives in.
Alex is battling on multiple fronts–with his new friends at school, and with his dad at home. It will be a sticky race to the finish to see who oozes out on top.
Middle Grade Books About Supporting a Family Business
These are the best middle grade books about entrepreneurship, with kids supporting a family business:
The Great Peach Experiment
Published: April 6, 2021
Sweet summer has taken a rotten turn . . .
After a tough year, Lucy, Freddy, and Herb Peach are ready for vacation. Lucy wants to read all of the books on the summer reading list. Freddy wants to work on his art projects (when he isn’t stuck in summer school). Herb wants to swim every day.
Then their dad makes a big announcement: one of the inventions their mom came up with before she passed away has sold, and now they’re millionaires!
But Dad has bigger plans than blowing the cash on fun stuff or investing it. He’s bought a used food truck. The Peaches are going to spend the summer traveling the country selling pies. It will be the Great Peach Experiment–a summer of bonding while living out one of Mom’s dreams. Summer plans, sunk. And there’s one more issue Dad’s neglected: none of them knows how to bake. . . .
All You Knead Is Love
Published: March 30, 2021
Twelve-year-old Alba doesn’t want to live with her estranged grandmother in Barcelona.But her mother needs her to be far, far away from their home in New York City. Because this is the year that her mother is going to leave Alba’s abusive father. Hopefully. If she’s strong enough to finally, finally do it.Alba is surprised to find that she loves Barcelona, forming a close relationship with her grandmother, meeting a supportive father figure, and making new friends. Most of all, she discovers a passion and talent for bread baking. When her beloved bakery is threatened with closure, Alba is determined to find a way to save it–and at the same time, she may just come up with a plan to make their family whole again.
Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Published: January 17, 2017
Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family’s taco truck. She wants nothing more than for Papi to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be a distant memory. Then maybe everyone at school will stop seeing her as the Taco Queen.
But when her family’s livelihood is threatened, and it looks like her wish will finally come true, Stef surprises everyone (including herself) by becoming the truck’s unlikely champion. In this fun and heartfelt novel, Stef will discover what matters most and ultimately embrace an identity that even includes old Tia Perla.
Summer of a Thousand Pies
Published: April 16, 2019
When Cady Bennett is sent to live with the aunt she didn’t even know she had in the quaint mountain town of Julian, she isn’t sure what to expect. Cady isn’t used to stability, after growing up homeless in San Diego with her dad.
Now she’s staying in her mother’s old room, exploring the countryside filled with apple orchards and pie shops, making friends, and working in Aunt Shell’s own pie shop—and soon, Cady starts to feel like she belongs.
Then she finds out that Aunt Shell’s shop is failing. Saving the business and protecting the first place she’s ever really felt safe will take everything she’s learned and the help of all her new friends. But are there some things even the perfect pie just can’t fix?
The Teashop Girls
Published: December 30, 2008
The Official Rules of the Teashop Girls
1. Teashop girls are best friends forever.
2. Tea is held every week, no matter what.
3. All tea and scones must be split equally at all times.
Annie, Genna, and Zoe have been hanging out at the Steeping Leaf since elementary school. The Teashop Girls do everything together — at least they used to. With the end of eighth grade approaching, Genna’s too busy with theater, Zoe’s always at tennis, and Annie feels totally left out. What happened to tea every week, no matter what?
When Annie convinces her grandmother to give her a job as a barista at the Leaf, things begin to look up. In between whipping up chai lattes for customers, and attempting to catch the attention of her Barista Boy crush, Annie is finally beginning to feel as grown-up as her best friends. But an eviction notice spells trouble for the Leaf and unless they can turn the business around, the teashop will have to close its doors forever.
The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue
Published: September 17, 2019
For the Vanderbeeker kids of Harlem’s 141st Street, spring break couldn’t be off to a better start. Isa’s back from band camp, Oliver’s building his first-ever treehouse in the backyard of the brownstone, and Laney, Jess, and Hyacinth are excited to help their mother when she gets the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a cooking magazine.
But the Vanderbeekers’ plans go off the rails when an unexpected visit from city officials puts their mother’s bakery in jeopardy. Now they’ll have to band together to save the day before they’re out of business. Perfect for fans of The Penderwicks and Front Desk.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Published: May 16, 2017
A 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book
Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?
For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.
Published: September 15, 2020
The story of Mia and her family and friends at the Calivista Motel continues in this powerful, hilarious, and resonant sequel to the award-winning novel Front Desk.Mia Tang thinks she’s going to have the best year ever. She and her parents are the proud owners of the Calivista Motel, Mia gets to run the front desk with her best friend, Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing!
But as it turns out, sixth grade is no picnic…1. Mia’s new teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great. And her entire class finds out she lives and works in a motel! 2. The motel is struggling, and Mia has to answer to the Calivista’s many, many worried investors.3. A new immigration law is looming and if it passes, it will threaten everything — and everyone — in Mia’s life.It’s a roller coaster of challenges, and Mia needs all of her determination to hang on tight. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang!
There they are: 24 of the best middle grade books about entrepreneurship! Which of these books have you read and which others would you recommend on this topic?