Teach valuable savings lessons through children’s literature

Delightful children’s stories about saving money strengthen families and help start important conversations early.

A great, and easy, way to introduce tougher concepts to young children is by reading to them. Recent research suggests that our views on money are basically set by the age of seven making it imperative that adults start conversations about finances early. A variety of money-related books are available, including the value of saving money.  The following book list compiled by Michigan State University Extension serves as great conversation starters.

In “The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Brother and Sister Bear are driving Papa Bear crazy by spending every penny they earn. They don’t like to see Papa upset, so they decide to mend their ways.  They find a variety of ways to earn money and learn to save. But then they become miserly, in the eyes of Papa Bear. When they give their hard-earned savings to Papa so that he will worry less, he decides to give them an allowance so they can learn to save, spend and live on a budget.

“Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday” by Judith Viorst is a great book to start a discussion about wasteful spending. After being given a dollar by his grandparents, Alexander manages to spend it, lose it and pay it out in fines within a week. Unlike many children’s books, there is no happy ending to this story.

The Caldecott Medal-winning “A Chair For My Mother” by Vera B. Williams, is a wonderful picture book about a little girl, her mother and grandmother who are all saving to buy a beautiful chair after they lost everything they had in a house fire.  The little girl puts half of all the money she earns into the savings jar they’ve set aside while her mother puts all of her waitressing tips into it each night. When grandmother gets a good bargain at the grocery store, she puts the money she saves into the jar as well. When the jar is filled and they cannot fit in another penny, they go shopping and find the chair of their dreams.

These books contain great lessons, but having a discussion after the story can provide even more lessons and benefits.  For more information about age-appropriate financial literacy, visit MSU Extension’s Youth Money Management resource page.

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