In our recent story on the best books to teach children about money, children’s book editors recommended classics, including the “Ramona” series by Beverly Clearly as well as more recent titles like “Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique.” The main takeaway? Children can learn a lot about money through books, and even pre-schoolers can benefit from hearing how families scrimp and save and how little kids can find ways to earn money.
After our story came out, Judy Freeman, a children’s literature consultant, followed up with her own suggestions for talking finances over story time. Freeman, who is also the author of the “Books Kids Will Sit Still For” series, suggests reading the following books aloud together and then broaching the subject in a “gentle” way. She acknowledges it’s not easy, especially at a time when doing the “right” thing and putting money into savings accounts doesn’t necessarily come with a big payoff, given the extremely low interest rates.
Still, books can have an impact: Freeman says after she read Emily Jenkins’ “Lemonade in Winter,” a picture book about the basic principles of economics, to several classes of third graders in her town, she noticed that a couple children launched a lemonade stand a few weeks later in late October.
Here are the rest of Freeman’s recommendations:
“Tia Isa wants a Car,” by Meg Medina. Tia Isa might want a car, but she has other demands on her money, too. She also has to think about sending money to faraway family members. (Ages 3 to 7.)
“One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference,” by Katie Smith Milway. A young boy in Ghana figures out how to turn one hen into a thriving poultry farm. (Ages 8 and up.)
“My Rows and Piles of Coins,” by Tololwa Mollel. A young Tanzanian boy saves up his money for a bicycle, which turns out to be more expensive than he realizes. (Ages 5 to 8.)
“Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday,” by Judith Viorst. Alexander imagines all that he could do with the dollar that his grandparents gave him. (Ages 4 to 8.)
“Bunny Money,” by Rosemary Wells. Shopping for a birthday gift for grandma turns into a budgeting lesson. (Ages 3 to 7.)
“Max’s Bunny Business,” by Rosemary Wells. This time, Max starts a lemonade stand with his friends and learns some business lessons along the way. (Ages 3 and up.)
“How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty,” by Nathan Zimelman. A school fundraiser, led by the students themselves, has never been so much fun. (Ages 5 to 8.)
“Lunch Money,” by Andrew Clements. Two young entrepreneurs team up to sell comics and figure out how to overcome business challenges together. (Ages 8 and up.)
“A Job for Jenny Archer,” by Ellen Conford. The young protagonist is determined to figure out a business plan that will make her rich. (Age 6 to 9.)
“The Lemonade War,” by Jacqueline Davies. This award-winning take on lemonade stands covers math, marketing and other business lessons. (Ages 9 and up.)
“The Get Rich Quick Club,” by Dan Gutman. A group of friends try to make a million dollars one summer. (Ages 8 and up.)
“Max Malone Makes a Million,” by Charlotte Herman. The trials and errors of young entrepreneurs offer lessons on how to run a successful business. (Ages 7 to 9.)
“The Go-Around Dollar,” by Barbara Johnson Adams. This non-fiction book tracks the path of a single dollar bill. (Ages 6 and up.)
“Follow the Money,” by Loreen Leedy. The main character is a quarter, George, who travels through vending machines, stores, a piggy bank and beyond. (Ages 4 to 8.)
“If you Made a Million,” by David M. Schwartz. This illustrated guide offers a fun lesson in how much money can buy and the value of coins and dollars. (Ages 4 to 8.)
Please share your own book recommendations below.