Personal Finance, Relationships

Money Lessons from a Child’s Bookshelf

children's books

When it comes to teaching your kids about money and finances, there is no need to go looking for specific books on these subjects. Your child’s bookself is probably already full of books that can bring financial lessons to life. Here are just a few of the possibilities:

Mother Goose Rhymes, traditional: Money themes abound in these simple rhyming books. Whether or not you agree with the values they portray, here’s a starting point for conversation:

  • One Two Buckle My Shoe: counting and grouping lessons
  • See-Saw Margery Daw: work and compensation
  • Jack Sprat, Pease Porridge Hot: conservation
  • Hickety Pickety, Sing A Song of Sixpence: wealth and the distribution of power
  • To Market To Market, Simple Simon, Hot Cross Buns: sales, shopping, and the value of money
  • The Queen of Hearts, Tom Tom The Piper’s Son: stealing and consequences
  • The Old Woman In The Shoe, Old Mother Hubbard: poverty and psychology
  • Betty Botter: wise purchasing

The Rainbow Fish, By Marcus Pfister: In this classic tale of sharing, one particularly endowed creature learns that beauty and possession cannot compare to the joy of having friends.

Gertrude McFuzz, by Dr. Seuss: Greediness to be different and better causes distress to the malcontent bird, and the help and support of her peers teaches her to be satisfied.

Gia and the One Hundred Dollars Worth of Bubblegum, by Frank Asch: This story is a take on the mouse and lion fable. The lesson, the reward of sharing and contributing what you can, is from a more child-like point-of-view.

The Little Red Hen, traditional: This classic tale is all about earning your keep. I’d also recommend Little Mouse on the Prairie by Steven Cosgrove for this lesson.

Falling Up, by Shel Silverstein This child’s favorite comedic rhymer includes a tid-bit of money theory in his work.

  • Tattooin’ Ruth: “Pants are expensive.” – The cost of items
  • My Sneaky Cousin: “A free bath here / at the launderette.” – The less-than-valuable “free”
  • Big Eating Contest: “But I won–/ the five-dollar first prize!” – Opportunity cost, and the value of an experience.
  • Morgan’s Curse: “A curse upon he who disturbs this gold.” – Opportunity cost, and the negative that can come with money.
  • Remote-A-Dad: “You want him to raise your allowance a bit? / You simply push eleven” and No Grown-ups: “Oh, now it’s time to pay?” – Parents as a source of money
  • Headless Town: “(I once sold shoes / in Footlessville). – The craft of the salesman.
  • Foot Repair: “I could have bought new feet for that!” – The importance of a service quote.
  • Help!: “How much must I pay?…/ Do you have insurance?” – Over-concern of money.
  • In the Land of…: “Steaks cost a nickel but the tax is a dollar.” Tax and fairness.

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: In this story, a rift is illustrated between children and adults, where adults are too concerned with numbers, including money and monetary value, and children see things for their intrinsic values: shape, color, size, relationship. I direct you to the eighth chapter, about the fourth planet, upon which there is a businessman, though the whole of the book contributes to this rift.

Gerald McBoing Boing, based on the motion-picture by Dr. Seuss: There is nothing like finding an outlet for a special talent to make one feel rich, if not become rich.

The Boy of the Three-Year Nap, by Diane Snyder: Although cleverness may make you rich, it cannot be done with laziness. Also, do not try to trick your mother.

Morris Moose Goes to School, by B. Wiseman: Going to school and learning math has practical applications. If you can’t count your pennies, you can’t order your gumdrops!

As you can see, your child’s bookshelf is already full of financial lessons ready to be taught by simply reading the books that your child already loves.

Image courtsey of jek in the box

3 thoughts on “Money Lessons from a Child’s Bookshelf

  1. Also Aesop’s Fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper”: The ant gathers extra food during the summer months when food is plentiful and gets through the cold winter comfortably. The grasshopper plays all summer and then suffers terribly in the winter because he has no winter store.

  2. Great article! I think too many adults dismiss the value of children’s literature; even we can learn from it.

    Books themselves can also teach kids about money. My two-year-old already knows the difference between buying books at a bookstore and borrowing them from the library, and he seems to realize that he can enjoy the free books just as much as the ones that cost money, even if he does have to give them back.

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