How to Teach Kids about Money Using Books: A List for Your Money Idealist Child

How to teach kids about money using money books. This is for the Money Idealist. Not sure which Money Prodigy category your own child is in? Come on over and have them take the Financial Assessment to find out. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/teach-kids-money-using-books-list-money-idealist-child/

How to teach kids about money in the Money Idealist category using money books

Wondering how to teach kids about money? One of the reasons why this is such a difficult topic is because you might not know where the heck to start.

I mean, how much does your child already understand, and how much are they just nodding along with (like me in a conversation with a physicist discussing how the universe works)?

I’ve curated these books specifically for kids in the Money Idealist category.

What is a Money Idealist?

Money Idealists understand the basics of money − talking to them about coin values, how to make a transaction in a store or how to make change will likely get eye rolls because they’re beyond those topics − but they need some context of how money works in the real world.

They also believe that the money will show up, and probably make decisions based on their heart, their wants, and the idea that someone else will help them pay for it. They think that no matter what, the money will come from somewhere. They also tend to not have an idea about how much things really cost, and the regular, everyday in-and-out of money in a household compared with a salary earned.

This is not uncommon in kids, because let’s face it, they haven’t had to deal with many “real world” scenarios that would cause them to think more realistically about money. They might not even have gotten their first paycheck yet!

Curated Book List for the Money Idealist

The fact is, the Money Prodigy categories don’t necessarily correlate with the age of your child. Some preschoolers know more about money than tweens, and some teens still struggle with the basics (heck, so do some adults!).

So I’ve divided these book selections up into ages − preschool, pre-tween, and tween age − within the Money Idealist category.

Money Idealist: Preschool Age Book Selections

Money Book #1: The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole

Ages:  4+ years

This is a twist on the classic Aesop’s fable, where the ants consistently, and without hesitation, prepare for the winter months while the grasshopper focuses on games + entertainment in the Chinese Emperor’s Summer Palace.

The Money Lesson(s): Consistent, and sometimes hard, work pays off. Preparation for tough times to come − financially or otherwise − is a good idea.

Life Lesson(s): The ants may be super prepared for winter while the grasshopper is out in the cold, but there is something to be said for enjoying life more. The lesson here is somewhere along the lines of “work hard, but don’t forget to play hard. Play hard, but don’t forget to leave time for work.”

Bonus Money Activity: Relate this lesson to something in your own household that you do throughout the year in financial preparation. For example, when my sister worked for a school bus company she did not receive a paycheck during the summer months. So throughout the year she would need to save extra each month to make up for having no paycheck for 2.5 months.

Pre-Tween Money Idealist: Your Book List

Money Book #1: Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, Judith Viorst

Ages: 4-8 years

You remember Alexander, the kid who had that terrible, horrible, no-good day? Well, the poor guy can’t catch a break. Reading about his life is like watching the many trials and tribulations of Greg Focker in the movie Meet the Parents all over again (hmmm…I think I just figured out Alexander’s adult avatar?).

Can’t this poor kid have a GOOD day?

In this book your child will see that Alexander used to be rich (and by rich, he means he used to have $1 his grandparents gave him) until he spent his money a bit foolishly. Honestly, what barely-out-of-a-carseat-kid wouldn’t?

The Money Lesson(s): There are always “opportunities” to buy things with your money. But sometimes, they’re not opportunities at all. Like a one-eyed teddy bear.

Life Lesson(s): Hmmm…maybe don’t make friends with this Alexander kid? Haha:). For real though, spending choices are your own, and no one else’s. So make them wisely! (Wait…that’s another money lesson. Oh well).

Bonus Money Activity:  Have your child identify what they think are “wants” that he spends his money on. Now, add up how much each of these wants cost Alexander. How much money would he still have if he had not spent on all his wants? What else could he have done with that money?

Money Book #2: Those Shoes, Maribeth Boelts

Ages: 5-8 years

Whether we like to remember this happened to us as tweens/teens or not, there is a lot of peer pressure when it comes to having “cool” clothes. And often the “cool” clothes cost more than parents’ paychecks can support.

That’s why I like this book. A boy gets transfixed by the newest trend of shoes at his school. His jealousy is palpable. Unfortunately, his grandmother can only afford to get him shoes that he needs − winter boots.

Even worse, his own “everyday” shoes fall apart at school. A helpful guidance counselor gives him a pair to have, but they’re what’s considered “baby” shoes and he gets embarrassed.

What happens? He finds that the one boy who didn’t laugh at his “baby” shoes actually was worse off than him. When he actually finds the shoes of his dreams − albeit one size too small − from a thrift store, he ends up gifting them to this other boy.

The Money Lesson(s): First off, I love how this boy figures out an alternative way of finding the shoes he wants for a price his grandmother can afford − the thrift store. I also love how the grandmother unabashedly told him what they could and could not afford instead of racking up a charge she didn’t need on her credit card to satisfy a current trend.

Life Lesson(s): Helping out someone else is hugely rewarding, just like when someone helps you out.

Bonus Money Activity: Have your child talk to you about something that they want that they cannot currently afford. Then ask them to think about ways they could get what they wanted for less money so that they could afford it sooner. Give them some hints to help this exercise along, especially if they’re not used to finding discounts for items.

Tween Money Idealist: Your Book List

Money Book #1: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin

Age Range: 8-12 years

In this jade-gem of a book, Minli and her family live very meagerly (poor according to American standards), but they have what they need. Though yes, just barely. The mother is always discontented with their circumstances. Her daughter is quite content, listening to her father’s stories are night, but she knows that her mother is not and she knows they have to work to the bone for the little they have.

So Minli decides to take some of the information from these stories and seek these people out so that she can change her family’s fortunes.

The Money Lesson(s):  This is a beautifully written tale about greed, humbleness, dragons (yes, there are dragons!), and learning to be thankful with what you have.

Life Lesson(s): Being thankful with what you have, and feeling like you have “enough” is the secret to happiness. There’s also a strong lesson here about helping others along their journey, and accepting help from others along the way.

Bonus Money Activity: Ask your child these follow-up questions to what they’re reading:

  • Minli and her family have very little money and very few possessions. Yet they have everything that they need. List out at least 4 needs that people must have in order to survive.
  • Now from the list of needs you made, write down what Minli and her family have in order to meet those needs. For example, if you list “water”, you could write that she and her family go to the well to get the water that they need. (a home, rice to eat, fields to plant a crop in and harvest, water, clothes to wear, each other’s company)
  • The only money Minli’s family has are the two copper coins given to Minli when she was a baby. And she spends one of these copper coins on a goldfish from some man who was selling them. Her mother is furious about this. Why do you think that is? What else could Minli have spent this precious money on?

How to Teach Kids about Money Using Books: A List for Your Money Rookie Child

How to teach kids about money using money books. I've curated this list of money books for Money Rookies. Not sure which Money Prodigy category your child is in? Come on over and have them take the financial assessment. | https://www.moneyprodigy.com/teach-kids-money-using-books-list-money-rookie-child/

How to teach kids about money using money book recommendations

Not sure how to teach kids about money? You might especially be wondering this if your child is a Money Rookie, meaning they hold as close to a clean money-education slate as is possible.

While you may be downright cringing at just how much money education your child needs − let alone where to even start − I’m here to tell you that the glass is half-full on this one, Mama Bear.

Think about how cool it is that there are no pesky money hang-ups holding them back, no habitual money behaviors to break, and hardly any misinformation you need to correct…just a clean slate where you can write the foundations for a brilliant money future.

Books are an excellent way to introduce a subject to a child while giving them some context and perhaps a few laughs.

Not only that, but they’re also a great opener for a money conversation.

So I’ve curated a list of money books that align with where your Money Rookie is right now.

I’m a firm believer that Money Prodigy categories are ageless − meaning they don’t line up with specific ages (so not all Money Rookies are preschoolers, and not all Money Stars are in their teens). So this list includes books in the preschool, pre-tween, and tween age range.

Preschool Money Rookies: Your Book List

Money Book #1: Sheep in a Shop, Nancy Shaw

Ages: 2-3 years old

Stores are a great place to help with how to teach kids about money. And this is the perfect book to show your very young kiddo what the purpose of a store is for: to go with money with something specific in mind that you want to buy. A group of sheep are on the mission to purchase a birthday gift. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough in their piggy bank for what they want to buy. So they learn to barter for it!

The Money Lesson(s): Sheep can’t count. Haha − just kidding. The real money lesson here is that things in stores are not free. Also, saving up to buy something is best…or else you might have to barter something like your own fur!

Life Lesson(s): It’s nice to both have fun while shopping, as well as to put some thought and energy into someone’s birthday.

Bonus Money Activity: For the next birthday-buying occasion in your household, walk your child through the process of buying a gift for someone. It doesn’t have to be from their money, or it could be − the point to this exercise is for them to be part of the money transaction. Set a budget for what they can spend on the gift, then brainstorm several ideas with them before heading to the store. Once you get to the store, walk them through the process. Let them choose from the shelf something close to one of the brainstormed ideas, as well as price compare if there are similar items. Ask them if the item is under the agreed-upon budget. If not, look around for another item. Have them put the item up on the counter at the cashier, and if you’re ready for it, have them hand over the money. Walk them through accepting the change, getting a receipt, and picking up the bag.

Money Book #2: Bunny Money, Rosemary Wells

Ages: 3-5

Bunnies Ruby and Max want to buy the perfect birthday gift for their grandmother: a beautiful music box with skating ballerinas. They’ve saved up their own money to do so, and head to the store for this one purpose. However, things start happening, and temptations arise that cost them some of their money. Also, they didn’t research the cost of what they wanted ahead of time, so they didn’t have enough money to buy it to begin with.

They end up making a pretty bad spending decision − purchasing glow-in-the-dark vampire fangs that cost them their bus ride fare home. In the end they spend their last $0.25 calling their grandmother to come and pick them up.

The Money Lesson(s): Researching what you want to buy before you head to the store is a good idea so that you can make sure you have enough money. There are almost always less expensive alternative options for when you can’t afford what you originally wanted. You need to prioritize your spending for needs first (bus far home), then wants. Otherwise you might get stuck somewhere!

Life Lesson(s): Your family will be there for you, just as you should be there for your family. And sometimes you’ll make mistakes! It happens. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you do.

Bonus Money Activity: Have your child go through each item the bunnies spent their money on, and tell you whether it was a want or a need. Let them defend their answers before telling them your answer.

Pre-Tween Money Rookies: Your Book List

Money Book #1: Pigs Will Be Pigs, Amy Axelrod

Ages: 5-8 years

The Pigs will be Pigs series, including this book, has been designed around the National Council of teachers of Mathematics’ Thirteen Standards.

But that’s not the fun part about this book (nor did that sound fun, right?).

This pig family has eaten through all their groceries from the morning (yes, pigs will be pigs!), and they’re hungry for a snack. The problem? There’s only a dollar between the lot of them. So they go about hunting for money in all kinds of peculiar places around their home. What I like is they don’t give the dollar denominations, but just the kinds of coins found, so that your child can do the math and add things up for themselves.

They are presented with a menu with prices, and so your child gets a chance at the end to figure out what else they could have bought from that menu. A very interactive book (probably not best for bedtime, as you’ll want them to break out a pencil and piece of paper to work on a few things).

The Money Lesson(s): Use the resources you’ve got at your hands (such as finding change in your own home versus going to the bank to get money out). Also, your child will get a bit more comfy with adding up different coins and dollar denominations, then trying to figure out what they can buy from it.

Life Lesson(s): Working together as a family means you’ll get to the goal that you want quicker. Plus it’s kinda fun!

Bonus Money Activity: At your family’s next restaurant visit, have your child choose something based on price. Give them a budget to work with, then ask them how many different combinations they can come up with from the menu and still stay under that budget.

Money Book #2: Follow the Money, Loreen Leedy

Ages 4-8

George is a newly minted quarter that gets used in a variety of ways. This book will give your child a great overview of money circulation + different ways that money can be used (like in a vending machine or as a donation).

The Money Lesson(s): There are a few calculations your kiddo is asked to make, such as how much change a customer should receive. This is also a great lesson in different ways money is used, and how far it can “travel”. It will answer the question of where money comes from, and what happens to it once it leaves their hands.

Bonus Money Activity: Have your child follow up reading this by going on a Virtual Money Field Trip to The U.S. Mint. This will show them where George the quarter came from!

Tween Money Rookies: Your Book List

Money Book #1: The Toothpaste Millionaire, Jean Merrill

Ages: 10-12

Originally published in 1972, this book takes place in an era when many authors, including this one, talked about things like race/age/sex discrimination. So just a heads up!

What I liked about this book for your Money Rookie is that it takes the idea of earning money through manufacturing and makes it a very tangible subject. In fact, this line from the book pretty much sums up why I’m recommending it: “As I mentioned before, math isn’t my favorite subject. But I think everybody should take a course in toothpaste.”

A child, appalled by how expensive toothpaste costs at the store, knows he can make his own for a very, very small fraction of the cost. So he does. And with the help of his friends and his math teacher, works his way up to opening several toothpaste manufacturing facilities. Apparently the US is hungry for $0.15 tubes of toothpaste!

The Money Lesson(s): One lesson is an overall introduction into the manufacturing business (as in how a product is made, some of the costs of production that go into the overall price, price wars with other brands, etc.). So it’s taking lessons your child may have learned running a lemonade stand as a pre-tween and using some real-world examples to teach them the lessons now.

Life Lesson(s): The main character, Rufus, gets a lot of help and ideas from friends, families, and his teacher. I think this is an extremely important lesson, as we’ll all get where we’re going a lot faster (and help others get where they’re going a lot faster) when we let others help us.