These days there are a number of apps, games and online tools that parents can use to teach kids about budgeting. If you’d rather step away from technology and take a more hands-on approach, picture books can be a great way to communicate complex financial topics in a kid-friendly and unintimidating way. Plus, by reading finance-themed books to your child, you’ll be able to spark important family conversations about money, saving and budgeting.
We consulted Jeanette Larson, a librarian, author and professor of children’s literature for recommendations on books written to teach kids the foundations of responsible personal finance. She recommended a number of picture books that turn money matters into fun, illustrated stories that children will actually want to read.
National Geographic Kids Everything Money: A Wealth of Facts, Photos and Fun!
by Kathy Furgang
Larson recommends this book from National Geographic because it balances “serious and fun information about money.” She notes that while the pages contain a lot of information, there is not so much that young readers feel overwhelmed. Plus, the combination of photographs and fun facts keep kids engaged.
by David Adler
According to Larson, Money Madness is “a good, colorful introduction for younger kids (kindergarten through third grade).” She also points out that Adler is a highly regarded author of children books. Some of his better-known works include the Cam Jansen series and biographical storybooks on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Amelia Earhart.
The Penny Pot
by Stuart Murphy
Larson describes this selection as “a math concept book that uses things kids want to buy as the basis for showing how math is used every day. It’s told in a story format for grades one through three.” Larson also points out that author Stuart Murphy is “well known for these math concept books that are visually appealing.” Other titles from Murphy include Double the Ducks and Lemonade for Sale.
Follow the Money
by Loreen Leedy
In this book, “readers follow a newly minted quarter as it moves from person to person and is traded, lost, spent, saved and more,” says Larson. “The cartoon style illustrations are a lot of fun and kids are encouraged to try out math problems throughout the story.”
If You Made a Million
by David Schwartz
Larson notes that this picture book is “fabulously illustrated” by the Steve Kellogg, whose work you might recognize from other well-known children’s books such as Is Your Mama a Llama and The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash. “In the story,” Larson says, “Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician explains the nuts and bolts of earning money, investing it, accruing dividends and interest, and watching your savings grow. Children learn some fairly complex concepts very easily in this book.”
Looking for additional ways to pass on responsible personal finance habits to your children? Check out our list of five ways to teach kids about money, and get an idea of what the average American parent pays their child in allowance.