Have you ever tried to talk with your child about saving their money or working hard to earn their money? And…did they tune you out or roll their eyeballs back into their head? Instead of launching into a lecture about important financial concepts, try introducing the topics through a book that you and your child have both read. There are many great literature classics that have money and business concepts embedded within the story. You and your child or teen can begin with the shared experience of the story and you can lead the conversation into a financial discussion based upon the character or the situation.
Here are a few of my favorite books that you can use as conversation starters to talk about money, jobs and entrepreneurship.
Books for Young Kids:
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Clooney
Miss Rumphius was given the challenge when she was a child to make the world a more beautiful place. This lovely book illustrates the impact that simple things can have on the world and kids can learn that you don’t need large amounts of money to make a difference.
Alexander who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
Alexander’s grandparents gave him a dollar on Sunday. This story follows Alexander and his dollar through the week and beautifully illustrates his struggles to make good decisions with his money.
Richard Scary’s What Do People Do all Day by Richard Scary
A close up look at all the jobs in Busy Town. Great for preschoolers!
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
How much should we willing give to help another person? Shel Silverstein’s classic story of a tree and her boy shows the true meaning of giving.
Books for Older Kids:
Anastasia at your Service by Lois Lowry
Anastasia is a 12 year old girl who decides to get her first job, as a companion to a wealthy, elderly woman. She makes a mistake on her first day at work and must continue to work to pay off her debt to her employer.
Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
Henry is a 10 ½ year old boy who desperately want his own paper route. Henry sets out to prove that he is capable of handling a route by introducing himself to the route manager, creating an advertising campaign and helping out whenever possible. Money is not the only reason he wants the job. He also wants to do something “important” and wants to prove himself capable. This story illustrates self-pride, motivation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is a precocious 2nd grade girl who is having a rough year. Her father has lost his job and her mother has gone back to work full-time. The family is showing the strain of a reduced income and change in family lifestyle. Ramona wants to help by doing a TV commercial and getting paid a million dollars! It is a timeless tale of a family pulling together in hard times but it is wrapped in humor and love.
Lunch Money by Andrew Clements
Lunch Money is about a middle school boy, Greg Kenton, who has always been obsessed with making money. Greg started with a lemonade stand and progressed to buying candy and toys in bulk to sell at school. The story takes a close look at commercialism in public schools and the existing attitudes toward entrepreneurship.
Books for Teens:
Money Hungry by Sharon G. Flake
Raspberry Hill is a 13 year old girl who lives in the projects with her mother. Her memories of being homeless and eating handouts drive her to think about money constantly. She is in survival mode and will do anything legally possible to prevent living on the streets again.
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolf
LaVaughn is a 14 year old, inner city girl who needs a job to save money for college. She answers an ad for a babysitter and begins working for Jolly, a 17 year old, single mother of two who is just trying to survive. This book is a bittersweet story of how two teen girls help each other and learn to “make lemonade”.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
In this classic tale, Charlie, a poor young boy, gets a golden ticket to enter the Wonka Candy factory and a chance to win a lifetime of wealth for his family. He is faced with unethical choices and “get rich quick” schemes.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox is a spoiled little girl who unfortunately becomes orphaned and as a result, goes to live with her reclusive uncle in England. Through a secret garden and unlikely friendships, Mary learns that money doesn’t buy happiness and she is able to reconnect the family relationships.
What books have you found that have money concepts embedded in the story? Have you shared them with your child or teen?