How to teach kids about money using money books
Apprentices make mistakes under the watchful eyes of a master, and Money Apprentices are no different.
These are kids that understand some of the basics of money (they’re well beyond coin-counting worksheets), but haven’t exactly figured out this money thing yet. They feel confident enough to throw their hat in the ring occasionally on money discussions, but they’ve got some misinformation about the subject.
PSST: Not sure if your child is a Money Rookie, Money Apprentice, Money Star, or Money Idealist? Have them take the Money Prodigy Financial Assessment. You’ll get results + a money roadmap for where to start teaching your child about money based on where they’re at right now.
I’ve curated these books specifically for kids in the Money Apprentice category to help them with not only clarifying some money principles, but also adding onto their money knowledge bank.
Preschooler Money Apprentice: Your Book List
Money Book #1: Paddy’s Payday, Alexandra Day
Ages: 3-8 years
Wondering how to teach kids about money? A great introduction to the most common way for money to get into a person’s hands is a good place to start. Paddy is an Irish Terrier who performs for a living. It’s his payday, and he’s got a long list of ways to spend his money.
The message that I don’t like in this book is to spend, spend, spend on your payday.
However, you could turn this around by opening a discussion about which of the things Paddy spends on that are needs versus wants. Think: Boston Cream donuts, hair cut, movie ticket, dinner at a restaurant, a bouquet of flowers (Paddy’s on track to be poor before his next payday!).
The Money Lesson(s): Payday means you have money to spend on both needs and wants. To truly get this lesson, you’d have to add that in, though, because Paddy seems to spend, spend, spend (without any remark on how he’s spending his paycheck away!).
Life Lesson(s): It’s important to play as well as work, not just one without the other. Paddy works for a living, so it’s nice to see him take some time off and enjoy himself.
Bonus Money Activity: Take a few minutes to discuss with your little one where you and/or your spouse work. Discuss some of the ways you use the money you get on payday to keep the household going.
Pre-Tween Money Apprentice: Your Book List
Money Book #1: Jenny Found a Penny, Trudy Harris
Ages: 5+ years
Jenny has her eyes set on something special (though you don’t find out what it is until the end). She needs a whole dollar, so she sets out to find all the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters she can. She also earns a dime from sweeping her grandfather’s porch and sidewalk − this is one determined gal! Unfortunately, she’s thrown for a loop at the cash register when she learns that not only does she have to save up for what she wants to buy, but also for the sales tax that is assessed on it.
The Money Lesson(s): Something you could talk about from this book is an alternative way to get that plastic piggy bank without having spent all her savings on it (such as making one from a two-liter soda bottle, or from a mason jar. Just look on Pinterest for ideas). Also, your child will be introduced to sales tax in this book, something that may well have confused them before (especially if they’ve paid attention to the price tag on an item + how it is always more at the register).
Life Lesson(s): Let others know what your goals are, and they just might help you with them.
Bonus Money Activity: Discuss sales tax with your child, and the idea that it’s different in different states and areas. Look up the sales tax in your own area for reference. Are there any items that are not assessed a sales tax?
Money Book #2: Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock, Sheila Bair
Ages: 6-9 years
This book describes two twins who live very differently, and who treat their money very differently. This becomes hugely apparent when their grandfather gives them a very intriguing proposition: He’ll pay them each $1 per week to mow his lawn and wash his car. Then he’ll match whatever they have in savings. One twin cannot keep his impulse purchases at bay − broccoli-flavored gum, anyone? − and the other ends up with a sweet $512 after 10 weeks.
The Money Lesson(s): Aside from ‘you need to have a grandfather who will match your savings from mowing his lawn and washing his car, dollar for dollar’ (ha!)? Saving money is wise for two reasons. Number one, you can afford more quality-of-life changing items. And number two, because your savings grows through interest (and through matches you can score).
Life Lesson(s): Don’t judge a person by their outside achievements. The beginning of this book is interesting because it sets up the twins in that one is a winner, and the other one is a loser. But it turns out the “loser” twin knew his stuff when it came to saving money.
Tween Money Apprentice: Your Book List
Money Book #1: Payday, Kathryn Beaton
If you’re looking for some foundational money lessons for your Money Apprentice, then this is your book. However, this book reads more like a textbook (albeit a very juicy one if you’re into learning about money) than a regular read.
The author takes your child through money concepts such as higher-paying jobs usually mean you need more education, common paycheck deductions and why they happen, health insurance co-pays, and some of the more logistical, but basic-for-an-adult-in-the-real-world, stuff that will untangle children’s natural confusion about how money works.
A note for parents: this book is heavy on the concept of getting an allowance that is tied with your age/the complexity of chores you can complete. It also says that the average allowance given to kids is between $5-$10/week. So make sure you’re cool with this before unknowingly giving some ammo to your kids to potentially raise their allowance (yes, the book also suggests negotiating with parents for extra allowance; however, they pair this with taking on more work around the house to justify the request)!
The Money Lesson(s): This book reads kind of like an 80s educational reference book, so the money lessons are vast. Aside from the obvious ones they tackle (budgeting, paycheck, earning money, shopping wisely), they also brush on negotiating for higher pay (or higher allowance, in this case), the necessity of health insurance, why older kids in the family might receive more allowance than the younger ones, money is negotiable, becoming an NFL player is not necessarily a life plan, etc.
Money Book #2: Seventeen Against the Dealer, Cynthia Voigt
Your child may have thought about wanting to start a business, or shown some interest in running a lemonade stand. For me and my friend, it was starting a bean bag business (not much demand in them…nor supply, for that matter).
Great! Have them read this book. It’s actually Book #7 in a series; however, I didn’t read the other ones before it and thought the story worked well on its own. Dicey Tillerman sets her eyes on opening a boatyard business where she’ll craft boats for a living.
The problem? While she has a little bit of money to start, she doesn’t have a lot of business sense and she doesn’t even have a ton of boat-making experience. Of course business sense can be picked up as you go (*cough* not that I would know ANYTHING about that).
Your child can read along her journey as she makes decisions of which she suffers from consequences later, as well as subtracts out expenses from her checkbook.
The Money Lesson(s): In business you need to have contracts with the people you are serving to protect both you and them. Having enough money in the bank to pay six months’ rent + utilities is woefully inadequate when starting your own business and being unsure of where the money is going to come from. Having more than one income source “stream” is very helpful for when your other income streams aren’t doing so hot (but the bills keep coming, as they so often do). It’s important to look into business insurance so that if/when you are robbed, your ability to make money (in her case, her specialty tools needed) is not completely taken away. What you earn from business is not all the money you get to take home thanks to operating costs + fees.
Life Lesson(s): There are lots of life lessons in this book. My favorites include the need to have Plans B-D at least, not trusting complete strangers with your money, and everyone pitching in to help each other out.