Children live in a very self-centered world as they focus on learning about themselves and how the world works according to them. As they go along, learning how to mimic parents and other adults, observing behaviors through cause and effect, they learn very early about this thing called money. It seems fitting that this first foray from fantasy to the real world should be reflected in their initiation to non-fiction literature. Books about money for children range from the very simple to the more complex, from the definition, spending and saving to taxes, the stock exchange, and how to make a little, or a lot, of it.
Money is a system of bartering and each group of common trade has developed an individualized system. It is also important to know that there is authority and basis for a group’s currency manufacture.
Mary Firestone, in What is Money writes a concise and simple introductory overview of these concepts for early readers. This book, in the series “First Facts”, is a square hardcover book with simple, creative photography and graphical illustrations. It has a glossary and activities at the end, and further resources for more exploration. The geometric layout with subtle and bold colors, large print and brief text is a perfect balance to convey the ideas effectively without overwhelming the reader with input.
Spending money is the active trade for what you want and need, the trick is to know the difference between the two and being able to determine different values among the competing options. Tanya Thayer’s Spending Money from the “first step nonfiction” series, also a square publication, simply exposes instances that money can be used to acquire, including things, activities, and gifts, with a page format dominated by photographs with single, first-person sentences. The book ends with 3 pages of more in-depth information and a glossary, making the book suitable for the first grade audience where the photos format makes the book a hit with pre-schoolers. In the “First Facts” series by Mary Firestone, Spending Money follows a young spender while exploring how money is a good tool when handled carefully. This book has the features unique to the series including a glossary and activity.
Saving money is about having the potential to spend money in the future, even if it is just tomorrow. Saving Money, in the “first step nonfiction” series by Tonya Thayer, is geared toward the youngest crowd and introduces the concept of the enticing purchases saving money can afford, ending again with a more grown-up couple of pages. Mary Firestone’s Saving Money is a brief narrative of a young saver and their reasons and methods, as well as the ‘First Facts” series’ activity and resources.
For all of the above for the older child, there is Eve Drobot’s Money Money Money, a more detailed book, filled with facts, history and legends from all over the world. There are bold and complex layouts, with columns, sections, charts, bubbles in creative shapes, patterns and borders that make the book a good one to spend some time with and immerse oneself in. Drobot discusses the basic concept of money, the origins and functions of banks and other institutionalized saving, and how people have spent, stolen, and gotten rich. (This one I recommend for even the seasoned spender.)
Taxes are the funds used to buy, build and repair government facilities and pay government employees. These funds come from members of a country and are determined by that government. Taxation: Paying for government by Charles Hirsch, in the “Good Citizenship Library,” discusses the facilities, methods, and resources of the United States system of taxes as well as the histories and downfalls of failed tax systems of the past and over the world. The format takes a mature approach, with several full-page and half-page photos, margin notes, tables, and featured sections.
The Stock Exchange is an important part of corporate America and an indicator of the economy and morale of the consumer. It is the public holding of shares of companies, which provides working capital for the company and returns for the investor. It is a complex operation based on factors such as supply and demand, product development, management, and image. For the older child, Stock Market Knowledge for All Ages by Susie Vaccaro Hardeman was written because there was nothing available geared for interested children. In question and answer format, this book uses and explains the jargon of the business and reveals the history of the market, its needs, and its uses. It is a non-daunting 63 page book, printed on glossy pages with bright, graphic illustrations drawn with quick line that exudes both the wealth and prestige of the subject as well as its fast-paced and finicky side.
Making Money and gaining wealth is part of the American Dream, and is certainly built into the American economic system. How can all this information about saving, spending, and success be applied to children, who are too young to get jobs and a steady income of their own? In the American Girl Library publication, Moneymakers, which, with a removed cover and couple of introductory pages, could be given to your discerning boy child with no ill effects, has a slew of modern and cool ways kids can earn money. Each section is accented by a true story, and how to handle your paperwork is also included. The book is geared towards children who are old, mature, and responsible enough to handle a small-scale business venture, though it is useful for a one-time stints. Unfortunately, reporting earnings to the IRS is not included, so make sure a tax professional is consulted before a business venture is started.
Whether you have a toddler starting out carrying your coins and tens around dropping them into heating vents, or a nine-year-old fussing about not having what the nine-year-old Jones has, it’s never to early to let a book do some teaching. Photos, the printed words, and, of course, ideas from people who are not the parents, can provide insights that adult examples cannot.
Image courtesy of Mor (bcnbits)