Want to Teach Kids About Money? These 9 Books Will Help

Father and daughter reading a book

Father and daughter reading a book | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

Struggling to teach kids about money? You’re not alone. While 90% of parents say that they try to explain concepts like saving and budgeting to their children, just 43% feel well prepared to tackle those conversations, according to a recent survey by EverFi.

Parents report feeling their own financial education was inadequate and wish they’d learned more money lessons in school. But moms and dads who expect their offspring to pick up key financial concepts in class are setting themselves up for disappointment. Financial literacy education at the both the high school and grade school levels in the United States is lacking. Though teens in a growing number of states must take classes in economics or personal finance before graduating from high school, there’s no guarantee basic money concepts will be covered in elementary school. That leaves parents – whose own understanding of money matters may be shaky at best – to teach their kids how to count their pennies.

To help out overwhelmed parents who are hoping to impart smart saving and spending habits to their kids, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created the Money as You Grow book club. Parents read popular children’s books with their kids, then use the CFPB’s reading guides to spark a discussion about the story.

The book club currently features nine titles that teach financial literacy lessons about saving, planning for the future, and deciding what you value in a fun, easy-to-understand way. A new book will be added every month. Here are the first nine books the CFPB recommends you read with your kids.

1. A Bargain for Frances

A Bargain for Frances

A Bargain for Frances | HarperCollins

Ages 6 and up

Russell Hoban’s book A Bargain for Frances may have first been published back in 1970, but the money lessons it teaches still apply today. Frances, a young badger, is saving her allowance to buy a new china tea set. But her friend Thelma tricks her into buying her old plastic tea set instead. Frances is upset, but figures out a way to get what she really wants in the end. Kids will learn about saving for goals and the importance of being careful how they spend money, as well as how to deal with a friend who sometimes isn’t that nice.

2. A Chair for My Mother

A Chair for My Mother

A Chair for My Mother | HarperCollins

Ages 6 and up

Rosa’s home is destroyed in a fire, and her family loses all their possessions. Their neighbors help them furnish a new apartment, but they still don’t have a comfortable chair or couch. So Rosa helps out at the diner where her mother works, and together they save all their spare change in a big glass jar. When the jar is full of coins, they exchange the change for bills, then go to the store to buy a new chair. This picture book by Vera Williams teaches lessons about saving, self-reliance, working together to achieve a goal, and the value of hard work.

3. Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday | Simon & Schuster

Ages 4 and up

Alexander’s grandparents give him a dollar and he feels rich. He wants to save the money to buy a walkie-talkie, but by the end of the week, he’s broke. This story by Judith Viorst explains basic principles of money management, like saving and prioritizing spending. Kids can also practice math skills by tracking how Alexander spends his money and adding up how much money his brothers have in their piggy banks.

4. Just Shopping with Mom

just shopping with mom

Just Shopping with Mom | Amazon

Ages 4 and up

Kids may not understand why they can’t have everything they see at the store. In this picture book by Mercer Mayer, three “little critters” misbehave on a shopping trip and mom has to teach them about self-control and how spending money works.

5. The Berenstain Bears & Mama’s New Job

The Berenstain Bears and Mama's New Job

The Berenstain Bears and Mama’s New Job | Penguin Random House

Ages 4 and up

When Mama Bear starts her own business, the rest of the family has to get used to the change and start pitching in around the house. Kids will learn about how doing something you love or are good at can be a way to earn money. The book can also help explain to kids why mom or dad is going back to work after staying at home.

6. Sheep in a Shop

Sheep in a Shop

Sheep in a Shop | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ages 4 and up

A rambunctious flock of sheep head to the store to buy a birthday gift for a friend, but they find out they don’t have enough money in their piggy bank to get what they want. The clever and resourceful sheep discover they can still get the present by trading something they have. Kids will learn about saving and spending, as well as how bartering works, in this book by Nancy Shaw.

7. Ox-Cart Man

Ox-Cart Man

Ox-Cart Man | Penguin Random House

Ages 4 and up

In this Caldecott-Medal-winning picture book by Donald Hall, a farmer and his family load up an ox-cart with all the things they’ve made or grown during the year. Then, the farmer travels to town to sell the items so he can buy things the family can’t make, like a knife and candy. The book, which is set in the 19th century, introduces basic economic concepts like production and exchange. It also teaches kids about the importance of hard work and how it is sometimes possible to make what you need rather than buying it.

8. The Purse

the purse

The Purse | Houghton Mifflin

Ages 4 and up

Katie likes the noise the change in her Band-Aid box makes. But when she uses all her money to buy a new purse, she realizes she doesn’t have any coins to put in it. Katie sets out to solve her problem by working to make more money by doing chores for her parents and sister. The book by Kathy Caple teaches kids how easy it is to be persuaded to buy something you don’t really need and also illustrates concepts of saving, spending, and working for money.

9. The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money

The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money | Penguin Random House

Ages 4 and up

The Berenstain Bears impart another money lesson in this book, where Brother and Sister bear keep spending money as soon as they get it. The siblings learn about overspending, how to earn money, and planning for the future and saving for a rainy day.

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