Family Dinner Games with a Money Twist: Everest Avalanche Dessert Breakout Box

Looking for fun family dinner games for kids (that ALSO teach your child how to save money)? Get my free printable: Dessert Breakout Box - Avalanche on Everest for a really fun reason for your kids to BEG to come to dinner tonight. |

Family dinner games that will teach your kid a specific money lesson + have them begging to sit around the table? #MamaWins.

Mama Bears? You’re about to reach cool-Mom status. Not only that, but your kids will actually want to sit down to a family meal tonight.

Why is that?

On my quest to figure out innovative + experiential ways to teach your kids about money, I’ve come up with an idea that takes the cake (or brownie, or M&Ms, or Heath bars…).

It’s a Dessert Breakout Box. And it’s going down tonight, at your dinner table.

What does this have to do with teaching your kids about money? Well…they have to solve a money puzzle to actually break into dessert tonight.

What is a Dessert Breakout Box Anyway? Plus a Sneak Peek at the Storyline

Breakout boxes are pretty cutting edge in the education realm. Breakout EDU is leading the way with their idea to take an escape room − where a group of people get together and figure out puzzles to escape the room for entertainment − and bringing it to the classroom. They’ve got a stellar Breakout EDU kit, and then there are hundreds of challenges + adventures you can get to go along with it.

I mean, what kid (or adult, for that matter) wouldn’t want to get their hands on one of these?

I’m feeding off this escape-room-turned-box idea even more by bringing it to your dining room table.

And the lessons your kids will learn? Are all about money.

Everest Avalanche Storyline (Sneak Peek)

There’s an oxygen-deprived mad man on the mountain! Your kiddo is part of an expedition team who is stuck up at Camp 1 due to an avalanche cutting off their path. While they wait for helicopter rescue, they  notice that one of their teammates has gone a little crazy. In his oxygen-deprived state, he’s heading UP the mountain instead of down. Even worse, he’s boxed up dessert with a lock and set sneaky codes your kid will need to break in order to get dessert tonight. Not a good thing when your food supply is dwindling anyway.

In order to break into this box and eat the dessert, your kiddo will need to solve one of the three money puzzles included as part of this free printable. It’s your choice which one (and feel free to use the other two for other memorable family dinner games)!

Pre-Work Overview + Details

Mama Bear, you get to choose from one of the three money puzzles that your child has to complete in order to break into their dessert box.

The three money puzzles are:

  1. Money Puzzle #1: Emergency Fund Balance
  2. Money Puzzle #2: Derailed Savings Plan
  3. Money Puzzle #3: Savings Account Purpose

You can pick by: divvying up a different puzzle to each child, choosing one puzzle for the whole family to solve, or by the money lesson you’d like your child to take away from the dinner table tonight.

Get the instructions + free printables by clicking to subscribe below:

How to Get Your Kid(dos) to Beg to Sit down to Dinner Tonight

Get your kid(dos) to beg to sit down to dinner tonight by leaking various hints throughout the day about what’s going down at family dinner time tonight.

Such as:

:: Write on a kitchen chalkboard your dinner menu + “Dessert: Held Captive”
:: Watch the family-appropriate Everest DVD Beyond the Edge with your kids, and tell them their hint for tonight’s dessert is in it
:: [Insert your own idea!]

Use this Dessert Breakout Box to add a second course to dinner the kids will never forget.

Genius Hack to Get Your Kid to Take Better Care of their Belongings

Wondering how to get kids to listen, Mom (hint: WITHOUT yelling)? While I certainly don't have a parenting handbook, I did happen to run across this genius hack for getting your kids to listen to you about taking care of their belongings. |

Child not listening? Here’s a genius hack I ran across for how to get your kid(dos) to listen – without yelling – when it comes to taking care of their belongings.

I know a mom who used to be really frustrated with her son’s lackluster care + enthusiasm for his belongings. She would buy him nice gifts at Christmas and for birthdays. But what would he do?

When her son was a tween, he would give his toys away to his friends. Anyone who asked him, he’d just give them to them. She would find out weeks later that he had gifted his electronic, or video game, or Lego set to someone who had grown wise to her child’s giving nature.

Of course, this represents a different kind of “not taking care of your belongings” (and an extreme example at that).

But it does raise the issue that so many parents are facing:

How do you get your child to care about their belongings?

You know, actually maintain + put them where they belong (most) nights?

While reading the other day, I came across one man’s genius hack that aligns pretty well with natural human behavior.

It’s to give your child a financial stake in doing so.

Let’s discuss the reason why David Owen decided to do this, and how it impacted his kids.

One of the Values Owen Wanted to Teach his Children

David Owen, author of The First National Bank of Dad – an excellent read, by the way – valued teaching his children a sense of ownership over their lives. When reading his book, you can see how he does that at a very early age by allowing them almost complete autonomy over their money.

Owen writes, “One of the most valuable lifelong financial services that you can perform for your children, I believe, is to help them begin to think of themselves as the owners of their lives, rather than renters or squatters – in other words, to help them begin to take personal responsibility in the broadest possible sense.”

He found an opportunity to further teach this value when the popular platform, eBay, came online.

How eBay Helped Owen Discover this Genius Parenting Hack

Owen raised his kids just as eBay was making selling and purchasing things like toothbrushes from a woman in Kansas feasible.

And his son definitely took notice of this potential.

Owen writes, “eBay, by providing an accessible and convenient marketplace in which things like old CDs and video games have genuine monetary value, has transformed my son’s relationship to his possessions. By giving him an incentive for behaving responsibly, eBay has increased his personal sense of responsibility. That’s good!”

Once his child made the association between the “stuff” in his bedroom and being able to actually reap money from it down the road, his behavior changed.

And it was a natural change, not one his parents had to force on him.

His son handled his video games very carefully and put them away so that their resale value wouldn’t drop. He had an incentive that the parent didn’t even need to be part of. How nice is that? eBay “opened his eyes to the cash value of the junk cluttering his room. He quickly sold off a substantial portion of his private cache of old video games, unwanted CDs, and outgrown toys. His previously vague sense of the value of his possessions was transformed.”

How Can You Give Your Child a Stake in Maintaining their Belongings?

This was a really great example to show how giving ownership over to children + giving them a financial stake in their lives can change their behavior without parents having to preach or press their views onto them.

Can you do something similar in your own child’s life, just like Bill did with his own son + his Apple iPhone 7 after reading this post?

While your solution might look a little different, here’s the basics of what you’ll need to solve the problem of your child not taking care of their belongings:

  • An Agreement to Hand the Proceeds Over to Your Child: Will your child get 50% of the cash they make back? 100%? It doesn’t matter how much, it only matters that your child knows that this incentive exists. If you’re not comfortable handing over the money to your child, then can you agree to use the money gained towards purchasing something new that they’ll want/need in the future? You can explain to them that the more money you can get, the better the item you can afford to purchase for them.
  • Education on the Resale Value of Well-Kept Items Vs. Not-So-Well-Kept-Items: You’ve set up the financial incentive and probably made your kid’s eyes pop out of their heads (at least a little). Now you need to show them that maintaining their belongings will bring the highest resale price. Here’s an excellent article about how to maintain value on video games. Another way you could help them understand condition of the item in direct relation to how much you’ll earn back is by pricing your used car on Kelley Blue Book. You can choose different “conditions” the car is in, and this directly affects the price you should list it. Here’s a condition quiz you go through with your child to see the true condition of your car. For electronics such as smartphones and tablets, you can use a site like to get the point across (conditions are, “Broken, Good, and Flawless,” each increasing in cash you can earn back).
  • A Platform for Selling Your Child Can Use: You’ll need to pick a selling platform for your child to reap back cash from their belongings when they are finished using them. For example, can your family hold a yard sale next spring or summer? Can you offer to list their items for sale on a local Facebook Mom Group (with their help)? What about trading in video games using programs like GameStop’s? Of course, eBay is still an option as well.

Now it’s your turn.

Are you inspired to do this with your kid(dos)? How will you experiment with introducing this incentive program into your household? Please share in the comments below!

Wondering How to teach Kids About Money? Fill their Reading List with these 23 Money Books

Parents: Stop wondering how to teach kids about money management, and instead fill your child's reading list with these money books. Includes bonus money activities to expand the learning in these books! |

How to teach kids about money using books + bonus money lessons I’ve added in. Broken down by age.

Earlier this year I went through a research project of sorts. I wanted to read tons of children’s books about money to see what materials are out there.

But I wanted to take it a step further. See, you’re a busy parent. And you don’t necessarily have time to read all of the books that your child is going to read.

So, for each of the 23 books that made the cut below, I’ve added in:

  • the age range
  • what money lesson(s) your child will learn from reading this book
  • what life lesson(s) they’ll learn

I’ve even included a bunch of bonus money activity ideas to use after reading specific books!

Money Books for Kids Under 5

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.

Money Book #3: The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole

Ages:  4+ years

This is probably one of the oldest examples of parents figuring out how to teach kids about money through storytelling. This particular version of the classic Aesop’s fable offers a twist, 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.

Money Book #4: 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, haircut, 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.

Money Book #5: Apple Farmer Annie, Monica Wellington

Ages: 3-7 years

I get exhausted just thinking back to my cow-milking, hay-making, silo-filling days.

What I like about this book is that your child will start to get an idea of the process involved in farming and turning it into an end product − dipping their toes in entrepreneurship. Annie, an orchard farmer, takes your child through (though in a really cursory way) picking apples, sorting them, producing sweet apple cider, applesauce, various baked goods, and then selling the most beautiful of all of them at the farmer’s market.

The Money Lesson(s): When you grow your own food, you can keep some for yourself to munch on (or bake really yummy things with), and then you can sell the excess and make some money. This is also a great opener for discussing with your child your own job and how it enables you to earn money.

Life Lesson(s): All throughout the book you can feel Annie’ s enthusiasm for what she does. It’s nice to show kids that you can love what you do in life.

Bonus Money Activity: there are Annie’s recipes in the back. So you could extend the study by picking your own apples, sorting them, then making a recipe together with your child. To add money flair to it, calculate the cost to create the recipe, and how much you could earn if you sold it for X amount of dollars.

Money Book #6: 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 #7: 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!

Money Book #8: 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-car-seat-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 Books for Kids 5 to 10 Years Old

Money Book #1: Those Shoes, Maribeth Boelts

Ages: 5-8 years

How to teach kids about money without including this timeless issue: peer pressure. 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.

Money Book #2: 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 #3: How the Second Grade Got $8,205.50 to Visit the Statue of Liberty, Nathan Zimelman

Ages: 5-8 years

I love how this book organizes such a huge task − raising a large sum of money − with a child Treasurer who makes reports. The reports break down their interesting and sometimes funny methods to raise money by the expenses and then overall profits. But it’s done in a very story-telling kind of way, not like a profit-n-loss meeting. This book is hilarious!

The Money Lesson(s): You can shoot for high money goals! Also, remember that when you sell something, not all of the money you bring in is actually profit. There are expenses you incurred that you need to account for to come to your profit number.

Life Lesson(s): Have a big idea − like checking out the Statue of Liberty? All of your goals are doable. You just need to brainstorm and take action on your ideas for how to get there.

Bonus Money Activity: What are some school fundraisers you’ve participated in the past? List them out. Now, talk about which ones were successful, and which ones were not. Why do you think some were successful and some weren’t?

Money Book #4: 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.

Money Book #5: Lulu Walks the Dogs, Judith Viorst

Age Range: 6-10 years

Lulu is quite the sassy little girl. She decides she needs to make some cash for something REALLY special, and sets her eyes on figuring out anything that will roll the dough in. Dog-walking seems to be the best suited (err, most easily lucrative) occupation. Except that she’s pretty bad at dog-walking. There’s this neighborhood kid who seems to be good at everything + super polite and helpful…but she refuses his help and good advice time and time again.

I also like that this is a short chapter book, so you can read it over several nights to your little one (or they can read it themselves).

The Money Lesson(s): Money can be made from a variety of sources if you’ve got some determination.

Life Lesson(s): Don’t be too prideful to ask for help, especially from people who could be the key in you getting what you are tirelessly trying for. A lesson that’s good for both kids and adults to learn!

Bonus Money Activity: Share several ways (or just one) of how you earned cash as a kid. How much did you make? Were you saving up for something special?

Money Book #6: Rickshaw Girl, Mitali Perkins

Ages: 7-10 years

How to teach kids about money + beyond can start by introducing them to the economics and realities of different cultures. Ten-year-old Naima is exceptionally good at painting (specifically designs called Alpanas). She lives in a Bangladeshi village with her mother, father, and younger sister. Unfortunately, even though they make little money, she can’t use her talents to earn money for the family because she is a girl. The father makes a living by pulling a rickshaw all day. In order to get into the profession, he had to first purchase the rickshaw. But since they have very little, he’s making payments on it.

One day Naima gets the rickshaw into an accident, threatening their entire livelihood.

Bonus Money Activity: On one rickshaw drive Naima’s, father makes is 3 taka. How much is that in US dollars? What is the US minimum wage, and how does that compare with what Naima’s father made?

Money Book #7: The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies

Age Range: 7-10 years

I absolutely adored this book.

Jessie and her brother, Evan, love each other. Deep down. And usually they function well as a brother/sister unit. But when Evan finds out that his very intelligent sister is going to be skipping ahead to his own grade, his bad emotions come out of nowhere.

They begin selling lemonade together, and end up starting an all-out lemonade war due to lots of miscommunication that escalate things (gee, that never happens in real life!). And who wins? The person who makes a profit of $100 by the end of the week.

The Money Lesson(s): One of the great money lessons in this book is how it’s geared towards making big business concepts understandable in terms of something your tween gets — a lemonade stand. So, they learn about things like Underselling, Value-Added, Profit Margin, and Franchises. An overall highly valuable money lesson is how to take an idea you have to make money, and see it through. These two really know how to implement, and that’s where the rubber meets the road.

Life Lesson(s): I think one of the best life lessons in this book that isn’t necessarily pointed out is that each person, no matter what their skills or capabilities, can bring valuable assets to the table. Jessie is a whiz when it comes to math, calculations, and ideas for how to increase profits. Evan is more of a people person, which is hugely important in a business.

Bonus Money Activity: If you were going to open a lemonade stand, who would you appoint to the different positions? For example, who in your family would be good at advertising for the business? Who would be good at counting the money? Where would you locate your lemonade stand? Start to think about these questions.

Money Book #8: 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 (a home, rice to eat, fields to plant a crop in and harvest, water, clothes to wear, each other’s company).

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.

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?

Money Book #9: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Money (American Girl), Nancy Holyoke

Age Range: 9-12 years

If you’re looking for money education geared towards young girls that has a cosmo-girl feel to it, this is your book. I particularly love the guidance on how to not only start up a business, but how to figure out your actual profits and not just your overall intake (something would-be biz owners at any age need to hear). I also dig the 101 money-making ideas in the back.

Overall, the book was a little too shopping-happy for my liking for kids (example: for a typical money moments day they include things like noticing another teen has a purse that costs more than someone’s car and determining that she’s stuck-up, meeting up with teen friends at the mall after school, etc.). To be fair though, there is a chapter on Shopping that goes into the value of needs versus wants, six ways not to buy, etc.

The Money Lesson(s): This is an entire guide about money, so there are many. The list includes being a smart shopper, starting up a business, running a business, and saving money.

Life Lesson(s): Once again, it’s not a book really set up for one particular lesson or even two. However, one that caught my eye was how to negotiate with your parents to raise your allowance.

Money Book #10: Lawn Boy, Gary Paulsen

Age Range: 8-12

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: financial limits and boundaries breed creativity. In this case, being a broke kid bred a whole business!

Lawn Boy is a pretty great book about a kid who started an entire lawn-mowing business − complete with workers − all because his parents didn’t have enough money to help him buy a new bike inner tube.

While this book is bent towards economics, it’s also great for making entrepreneurship seem a bit more accessible. It gives your kiddo a look into how another kid their age filled a demand for a service, and in the meantime, earned lots of money.

The Money Lesson(s): Get this book for your kiddo for the business and entrepreneur lessons. However, warn your kid about the use of penny stocks and investing their money with random people. Yes, Lawn Boy makes a small fortune when his stockbroker neighbor-turned business manager invests his money into penny stocks. But that’s not likely to happen.

Life Lesson(s): Keep your eyes open for opportunities. And sometimes? It comes in the form of work. A lot of work.

Bonus Money Activity: Think about yourself trying to start a lawn mowing business. What would you need to purchase in order to get started? How would you come up with that money to begin the business?

Money Book #11: Lunch Money, Andrew Clements

Age Range: 8-12

Greg Kenton has a mind and an eye for earning cash. You could say he’s a little money-crazy. When he figures out that all of his friends and schoolmates carry around extra quarters with them − for things like ice-cream sandwiches, cupcakes, neon pens, pencils, and other things to buy at school − he knows he needs to cash in on it in order to help him make his fortune.

The book follows his entrepreneurial journey as he navigates selling first toys, then self-made, mini-comic books to his students. Along the way he figures out how to mass-produce, he comes up against a fierce competitor, and tough school regulations against selling things where learning should be the ultimate goal.

The Money Lesson(s): I like how this book takes a subject that can be very difficult to wrap your head around − entrepreneurship and starting up a small biz − and makes it accessible to kids and adults alike. Most things are addressed in a completely non-intimidating way, such as trademark issues, creation, marketing, figuring out a solid audience to market to, earning money, gross earnings versus profits Greg gets to pocket, etc. However, the book does not get into a bit more complex subjects like taxes on earnings.

Life Lesson(s): There’s an underlying message here of learning how to read things for yourself, analyze them, then stick up for what you believe in. This happens when Greg and his competitor find out that even though they’re told they cannot sell products to kids in school, they point out the huge amount of advertisements and products being sold to the kids everyday (such as Coke in the vending machines, and books through the scholastic school program). Greg, his competitor, and a teacher end up going over the regulations and then presenting their side at the school board meeting.

Bonus Money Activity: Greg’s idea to create miniature comic books and sell them to kids is pretty unique. Ask your child if they wanted to make some extra money, what are three ways they could start doing so?

Money Book #12: Better than a Lemonade Stand!, Daryl Bernstein

Age Range: 9-13 years

I love the fact that this book was written by a 15-year old. How cool for your kid to see that!

There are 55 different business ideas for kids that go well beyond just the lemonade stand. I also love the fact that sprinkled throughout the book are real life examples of kids who took this guy’s advice (he originally wrote the book in 1992) and started their own businesses.

There’s a lot of positivity in this book, and I’ll have to warn you that you may not agree with all the advice spouted off by the then-15 year old in the beginning of the book. Examples include, “When you earn your own money, it’s yours to spend as you wish…[i]f you prefer to buy loads of candy, go ahead!” And you might want to reinforce the idea of charity against his statement of, “When I see a need, I charge a fee to fill it.”

Then again, getting to read a book from a child who is so confident with money, business building, gleaning life lessons from mistakes, and asking for the sale is an awesome role model for your own child.

The Money Lesson(s): Your child will definitely understand what start-up costs are after reading this book, as each of the 55 ideas comes with a list of what they’ll need to get the biz up and going. The crucial role of advertising, along with tons of ideas for how to, is discussed. Each idea also comes with an example of how much to charge, as well as ways to cut down on costs and increase your profits as you move along. Lots of other nuggets like “the less you spend on supplies, the more you make!”, collecting some money upfront so that you have the funds to purchase supplies, and small details to get repeat customers (like bringing along a little bell toy to leave in a bird’s cage after cleaning it so that every time the customer hears the bell they’ll think of you in a sweet way and want you to come again).

Life Lesson(s): Daryl really reinforces the idea that when you make a mistake or fail you can use the lessons as fodder for your next business. I love this “keep going” attitude.

Money Books for Kids Aged 10-13 years

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.

Money Book #2: Payday, Kathryn Beaton

Ages: 10-13

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 #3: Seventeen Against the Dealer, Cynthia Voigt

Ages: 12+

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.

Well, there you have it – a huge list of good to great money books to stock your child’s reading list. Plus a ton of ideas for bonus money activities to go along with many of the books!