Teach children to save by introducing the concept + diving deeper into it through this list of money books. Broken down by age.
If you’re like me, then you like to prime your kids for the next phases in their lives through books. And books are an excellent way of introducing new concepts to them, peaking their interest, or diving much deeper into a topic you want them to explore.
While my little 21-month old is more into the realm of potty-training + identifying colors in books, yours is likely ready to tackle some of the money issues − and specifically, how to teach children to save money − you’d like to pass onto them.
So today, we’re going to do just that by offering a curated list of books to teach children to save.
Saving 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. That’s why we want to teach children to save money!
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 Talk Starter: 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. What season/item/bill do you financially prepare for ahead of time? Property taxes? Christmas? Summer Camp fees?
Saving Money Book #2: 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 Talk Starter: 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? Which ones did your child enjoy the most?
Saving Money Book #3: 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.
Bonus Money Talk Starter: Ask your kiddo to describe a time that they purchased something and felt really bad about it afterwards. Tell them it’s called “buyer’s remorse”, and that sometimes it happens to adults as well. Share your own story of buyer’s remorse with them.
Saving Money Book #4: Less than Zero, Stuart J. Murphy
Ages: 6-10 years
In a little penguin’s world, the currency is clams and the thing to have? An ice scooter (costs 9 clams). Of course, there are other temptations along the way – the Ice Circus, Sardine Fishy Treats, and Fishy Fries.
This book clearly demonstrates both a savings goal, as well as what it means to go down to “less than zero” (owing others money).
The Money Lesson(s): You can go into debt with people, and that’s what happens when you take out a loan. Also, temptations will always show up when you have a savings goal; it’s your decision what to choose to spend your money on.
Life Lesson(s): Be kind and honest – when someone loses their money and you find it, be sure to attempt to give it back to them. It might be their last “clam”!
Bonus Money Talk Starter: Ask your kiddo about trendy things that lots of kids are buying right now. Then ask them about a trend in the past that was “all the rage”, but died out (for example, you don’t still have your slap bracelet, do you Mama Bear? Does your kiddo think it’s smart to spend money on items that become uncool so quickly?
Saving Money Book #5: Start Saving, Henry!, Nancy L. Carlson
Ages: 5-8 years
After weeks and months of mindless spending, Henry the mouse sets his eyes on a Super Robot Dude. The cost? A whole $30. His allowance per week is just $5. That’s when the idea that he can save up his allowance from week to week dawns on him.
Fun aside: does anyone else here remember those giant jawbreakers from our childhood?
The Money Lesson(s): Life keeps happening, despite your savings goal. So, you need to keep coming back to it no matter how far away it might seem. You’ll get there, one day!
The Life Lesson(s): I like how Henry makes the realization at the end that even though he got what he wanted, he’s just going to start saving more money from now on because you never know when you’ll need the cash.
Bonus Money Talk Starter: Talk to your child about a savings goal that they have that would cost more than their weekly/bi-weekly/monthly allowance. Ask your child if they would like to set aside a certain amount of money each allowance to put towards it. See how they’re feeling.
Saving Money Book #6: Anna & Solomon, Elaine Snyder
Ages: 4-8 years
This is a heart-warming book about a Jewish couple who decides it’s in their best interest to leave Russia due to persecution.
What I like about their savings goal – to send the husband to America and establish a business, then send money back for her ticket – is wrapped around both earning money from their talents, as well as a goal with real life consequences.
This isn’t just about saving up for a new ice scooter!
What’s endearing is that Anna actually sends her younger brother, her older brother, and her mother before she uses the money her husband sends for her own ticket. While her husband is disappointed, each time he goes back to work and earns/saves up for another ticket.
Eventually, all are reunited.
Pssst: this is a true story!
The Money Lesson(s): Sometimes you save up for really fun and non-necessary items, like a video game, or a new robot. And other times? You save up for very important, life-altering things, like a ticket so that your family can be reunited with you. Also, once you’ve successfully saved up for one goal, you can just start right in on the next one. And the next one.
The Life Lesson(s): Life takes patience. Getting what you want can take a lot of patience. Keep at it – short-term sacrifices can oftentimes lead to long-term happiness and stability.
Bonus Money Talk Starter: Share a time that you saved money as a family for something very important — more so than a want, something that was a need.
Saving Money Book #7: Just Saving My Money, Mercer Mayer
Ages: 4-8 years
Little Critter wants a new skateboard because his old one has bit the dust. So his father asks him to save up for it. The little guy comes up with different chores he can do around the house for money – with varying degrees of success – and finally his mason jar is so full that he needs to open a savings account!
I like how this book takes your child through the process of first saving money in a jar, and then transitioning to a savings account at a bank.
The Money Lesson(s): You can earn money to put towards a savings goal. Also, you can choose to either save your money in a jar, or at a bank.
The Life Lesson(s): It’s okay to change your mind! Just like Little Critter did at the end.
Bonus Money Talk Starter: Talk to your kiddo about the positives and negatives of saving money in a mason jar/piggy bank versus saving money in a savings account.
Saving Money Book #8: Mamá’s Birthday Surprise, Elizabeth Spurr
Ages: 8-9 years
I love the details of Mexican culture in this book, as well as the concrete savings goal this family has and sees through.
Three children and their hard-working mother – working, going to college – live in Glendale, CA. After a large earthquake, her mother was taken in by her rich Uncle in Guadalajara, and often recounts his many luxuries and the goodness of life there. She married an American, who took them to California. Unfortunately, he died in a car crash.
The mother wanted to return on a visit to Mexico and bring her family to meet her Uncle. To save up for the trip, they have a piggy bank on top of the fridge that they affectionately named Jamón.
Follow along as several life events, such as job loss, coincide with the kids saving up all their earnings on the side so that they can surprise their mother with a birthday gift – enough money to pay for all four plane tickets to Guadalajara.
I love all the details on Mexican culture!
The Money Lesson(s): Kids can earn + save up enough money to actually make a difference to a real-life situation. That’s empowering! This book also briefly mentions life insurance from the death of her husband. Also, because of what they found out happened to the Uncle, it’s a good thing for them to understand that money can come and go.
The Life Lesson(s): Have faith in your parents. Sometimes they tell stories that aren’t true with your benefit in mind. And other times? They’re telling the truth, even if it might not seem like it at first.
Bonus Money Talk Starter: Since your kiddo will learn that the once-rich Uncle loses everything, now’s the perfect time to discuss with them the need for emergency funds. Save money during the good times, so that you have it in the bad times.
Saving Money Book # 9: Not Your Parents’ Money Book, Jean Chatzky
Age: 10+ years
I really like how the various subjects of this book – making, saving, and spending your own money – are led by actual kids’ questions that Chatzky surveyed from around the U.S.
Let’s be honest: kids are real! They want to know ways to earn money that don’t have to do with babysitting, or they confess that their parents have a rule that if they receive $10 in one day they’re not allowed to spend it all that day (good rule).
Chatzky advises your child to save 10% of all of their income for life and shows them the breakdown of how this would land them over a million dollars (if they invest it as well) by retirement. Not so bad. I wish I had started when I was a teen!
She dives into the difference between simple and compound interest, why you want to use a bank instead of your mattress to stash your savings, and lots more.
A section I particularly like in the book? Is when she breaks down incomes from common job types. Not necessarily related to savings, but eye-opening for your child, anyhow (and, let’s face it, you need money to save money!).
Another favorite? The chapter on “Why does money make people so crazy?”
Bonus Money Talk Starter: This book is different from the others as it reads more like a kids’ money textbook (but a fun one). So you could ask your kiddo what questions they have after reading through everything.
What are your favorite kids’ stories that teach children to save money? Please leave them in the comments below!