It is quick, easy and usually fun to read books about money, saving, spending, giving and managing to our little ones under the age of 7. But once kids enjoy reading on their own, it can be difficult to wade through those longer chapter books without all those colorful pictures in a read-aloud environment.
The books must be engaging, teach a relevant lesson, be easy enough for ages 7 – 9 to read, yet not so simple that the middle schoolers feel insulted.
Tooth Paste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
This is a classic book written in 1972 touches on many themes, diversity, tolerance, cooperation, math and money.
In it young Rufus is sent to the store by his Mom to buy some supplies, among which is a tube of toothpaste. Rufus takes his new friend Kate who has just moved to Cleveland with her family and doesn’t know anyone. Rufus considers the toothpaste too expensive, remembering that his Grandma had showed him how to brush using just baking soda. He goes home without a tube and invents his own paste, complete with flavoring. He and a growing group of helpers proceed to make gallons of the stuff and to sell it in recycled baby food jars.
With the help of Kate, they switch to tubes, find a factory and a machine operator and proceed to build a business.
In my 2015 Grandma Rie’s Money Camp, the other Grandma and I read this book to our two grandchildren each night of camp and finished it off that week. I also made up my own board game to go along with the book to help the kids internalize the messages of thriftiness, the rewards of having your own business, and the rest of the lessons that run through the book without lecture.
Kid Zillionaire by Raymond Bean
This is the first in a series of Kid Zillionaire books.
The book provides an out sized example of the benefits of starting your own business, which should plant an idea or two in your tween’s head, but I tempered that vision by having a discussion about the risks that can come with having your own business and in talking about the success (or failure) rate of many businesses.
Benji’s class is given an assignment to create some kind of an app. At home, Benji and his Dad love to work on inventions of all kinds and to test them out. They are in the middle of a crucial test when his piano teacher arrives to give Benji a lesson. Benji tries to find an excuse to get out of the lesson but his Dad holds him to it.
This makes Benji think that there must be a better way to come up with excuses, so he writes an app to do just that. When he demonstrates it at school, as required by the teacher for this lesson, classmates begin trying it out out on their smart phones under their desks, but the teacher is apprehensive that it isn’t morally right. Benji puts the app up for sale on an app store and instantly makes millions and zillions of money. He goes on in the book to do heroic and charitable things.
In my 2016 Grandma Rie’s Money Camp, we read this book each evening until complete. Since the grandkids are both old enough to read, they took turns with me reading the book together.
The Young Investor by Katherine R. Bateman
This non-fiction book was written by a grandma to help her own grandchildren know what to do with a gift she planned to give when they were teens.
It covers many relevant concepts, starting with an explanation of money – coins, bills, currencies, etc.
Chapters cover saving, investing, stock market concepts, reading stock prices, researching stocks, a bit on the economy and additional resources for the kids to use.
At the end of each chapter, she includes a fictional account of a young investor, to show how he applied the concept in that chapter. For example, in the chapter on saving Billy Ray started putting Christmas and birthday gift money into a bank account. One day he realized that the money in the account was growing more quickly than just the money he was adding. The compound interest word problems he had done in school now came alive and he saw the power of compounding on his own money.
Each chapter builds on Billy Ray’s money experience.
This is a great resource book. So far, I have been using it in Money Camp to get ideas to teach to the kids (now 12 and 9). I plan to gift a copy of the book to each of them when they reach the age of about 14 or when they are high school sophomores.
Do you know of some interesting books for tweens to help them learn about money and finances?