Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Books to Teach Little Readers About Money
Reading Dr. Seuss books to your children is fun, but it can get old reading for the umpteenth time how many things a cat in the hat can hold up. Eventually, you’ll want them to read the book, and many others, on their own.
For parents who want to try to slip in a few life lessons in their children’s reading, this can be a good time to offer them a few good books about money.
You probably don’t want them reading Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders — the 2016 letter was 31 pages of insights — but there are plenty of other ways to teach them financial literacy.
Here are some to start with, listed by title, grade level and approximate price:
One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent New Cent: All About Money: K-2, $6. This book is by Bonnie Worth and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz, and not the original Dr. Seuss himself. It gives a big-picture context to money lessons at this age, all in the fun style of Dr. Seuss.
Money Madness: K-3, $8. By author David Adler and illustrated by Edward Miller, this books asks what life would be like without money. It traces the history of the monetary system, starting with hunting and gathering up to paper currency. Sections of the book on inflation and fluctuations in exchange rates can be skipped by some children and perhaps tackled at a later age.
Follow the Money: K-3, $8. By Loreen Leedy, this is one of many “follow the coin/dollar” children’s books that show what happens to money. This book is from the point of view of a quarter. It goes from the Federal Reserve to a bank, grocery store, child’s piggy bank and elsewhere in a busy day of transactions. Along with teaching how money is used and reused, it has a few money-related problems, such as adding coins.
The Coin Counting Book: Grades 1-4, $7. By Rozanne Lanczak Williams, this basic book helps with one of the main math lessons young children learn in school. Large photos of coins, illustrations and rhymes teach children how to add up coins in a fun way.
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday: K-4, $6. Written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz, this book shows how having some money burning a hole in your pocket, even if it’s only $1, can leave you broke if you don’t learn discipline to save.
If You Made a Million: Grades 1-5, $7. Written by David Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg, this book is a sequel to “How Much Is a Million.” It takes difficult financial concepts such as writing checks, interest, and the connection between doing a task and getting paid for it, and makes them easy for children to understand. The pages on interest, for example, are done so well that your child may not see much of a point in giving a bank $1 for a year so they can get a nickel back in interest. Or that their $1 will grow to $2.70 in 20 years. Learning about compounding is good, but with interest rates as low as they are, you may also want to get them a book on investing.
Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids: Grades 4-8, $5. Written by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig, this book explains the basics of investing at the age when children should be ready to understand it and may be curious about it. From savings accounts to bonds, stocks and mutual funds, the guide uses kid-friendly terms in a fun way.
A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money: Grade 5-7, $4. Written by Nancy Holyoke, this is an “American Girl” book, meaning it’s from the same company that sells dolls and some excellent books on how a girl’s body changes. The book is obviously aimed at girls, but is sometimes a bit too stereotypical with money examples in shopping, clothing and makeup. Still, it covers personal finance in a variety of interactive ways with short quizzes that can help girls determine their relationship with money.
Many of these books should be available for free to check out at your local library. That may be the best money lesson a parent can give — leading by example in how they use their money by going to the library instead of buying books.
The saved cash could be used to start an investment fund with your child.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the Bay Area who specializes in personal finance writing. He owns a website, CashSmarter.com, that focuses on simplifying family finances.