Kids need the opportunity to learn about money by doing—that’s a given. Even so, books provide a terrific way for you to get the ball rolling and to introduce the financial things you’d like to talk about or do with your child. They also can reinforce money ideas or tasks you’re working on. These are some top picks for kids’ money books to buy or check out from your local library.
Curious George Saves His Pennies
This book by Margret and H.A. Ray is designed for kids the preschool and early elementary age bracket. The main character in the story, a friendly and happy-go-lucky little monkey named Curious George, finds a toy train he really wants to buy, and he tries to save up for it. He almost can’t reach his goal, though, because he loses his piggy bank at the toy store. This book teaches two great lessons: Saving is essential for getting what you want, and you need to be responsible with the money you have.
As just about any financial expert will tell you, being able to allocate your funds into three basic categories—spending, saving and charitable giving—is essential to solid money management. Kids need to learn this skill early, and with this book by Tony Townsley, you have a tool to help them out. The true story relates how the author’s parents gave him three cups to help him divide his allowance—and how they led him to wonderful, heartwarming adventures along the way.
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money
Part of the larger Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstain, this book follows Brother and Sister Bear as they move from spending too much to being misers. Eventually, they learn enough about money to find a good middle ground, saving some of their cash but still getting some things they want.
Do I Need It? or Do I Want It?: Making Budget Choices
One of the biggest challenges parents face as they try to teach their kids about money is getting their kids to understand that there’s a difference between wanting and needing. If kids see these things as the same, they’re at a high risk for overspending. This book by Jennifer Larson teaches kids how to decide whether something they want to purchase is an honest need or just something they’d like, all while giving a solid introduction into what a budget is and why it’s useful.
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday
Kids often have trouble saving money because they’re more emotionally driven, basing purchase decisions on how they feel in the moment. This tale by Judith Viorst follows Alexander, who keeps getting pulled away from saving as he does this exact thing. He watches his dollar slowly dwindle through purchases, bets and other mistakes with friends and family. It’s a great story to get kids talking about the challenges of saving and how they might develop strategies to do a little better than Alexander.
One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
This picture book by Katie Smith Milway and Eugenie Fernandes is intended for preschoolers. It tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who has to quit school in order to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the local market. His mother is able to give him a very small amount of money after getting a loan, and he takes this money and uses it to buy a hen. Eventually, this one purchase turns into a thriving farm. This is an excellent story to get little ones thinking about how even a small loan and purchase, when managed well, can turn into great prosperity. It also introduces kids to what children from other countries are facing financially.