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Learn how to talk to your kids about money while also reading great books!

Teaching Money Lessons with Books

by Katie Cullum

wooden house, coins growing
Growing up with money lessons

Do your kids like to spend money?  What do you do? Do you just toss more money their way? Or do you say things like, "I'm not made of money!"

Talking about money is not easy.  Just think back to your parents.  Do you remember them talking calmly about money?  Or did they argue about money?  I remember my parents sitting at the kitchen table with the orange notebook discussing the bills.  There was usually some stress involved.  

Or think about the first time you talked about money with a significant other (SO).  Did it go well?  Was there some embarrassment?  Maybe it was awkward?  Did you see eye-to-eye from the very beginning?  

In Extension, we know the communicating about money is difficult.  We even have a series for couple on dealing with money together.  But how do you start talking to your kids about money?

children's books
Read together to learn together!

One way to talk to your kids about any difficult topic is by reading together.  There are so many books that were designed for this purpose!  You've been reading together since your kids were babies, and you don't have to stop just because they are in pre-K or school!  Reading books together is a creative way to learn about the many concepts related to money management.  It's easy to talk about the mistakes that Alexander makes.  Or how friends can influence what we want or think we want, like Frances.  It's easier to talk and plan for other people than ourselves! But after you and your family talk through what Alexander or Frances could and should do, then use some of those ideas in your own family.  

Money on the Bookshelf uses children's book and concepts about financial literacy to help families talk rather than argue about their money and how to use it.  Families read together, and can plan together.  You'll learn about basic financial literacy concepts like goal setting, decision making, planning, and saving.  You'll be encouraged to discuss the concepts together.  

What is financial literacy?  Financial literacy is a person's ability to recognize and use the money and other resources he or she has to get is needed and wanted.  To achieve financial literacy, a person needs to have experiences with money.  Children need to learn about money and its use when they are young.  I remember counting coins that my dad collected.  I didn't know it at the time, but that's an early financial literacy skills.  Measuring the cost of things with coins comes later.  Talking about money may mean that children are more likely to have allowances, more likely to save money, and more likely to plan how they use money.  Talking about money as a family means fewer arguments about money.  

Money on the Bookshelf can help parents:

  • help their children learn about money and its use;
  • watch their children grow in independence;
  • set a special family time to talk about family money matters with their children;
  • have fun and enjoy the stories.

Children can:

  • increase their money skills;
  • learn about money and its use;
  • have friendly talks with their parents about money;
  • feel closer to parents;
  • have fun and enjoy the stories.
You've been reading for years, but reading with babies, toddlers, and school-age children can be a little different.  Check out the reading tips for different ages and disabilities from Reading Rockets. 

Here are some of the books available in White County at the local libraries or from the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium (ADLC) where you can check out e-books and audio books for free with your library card.  This chart also includes the financial literacy concepts that are discussed in each book. Links are included to other blog posts about that book (including a video of me reading the book) and a parent guide.
Title of Book (Suggested age level) Where in White County? Concept Concept Concept
A Bargain for Frances (5 and up) Searcy Library Decision Making Goal Setting Problem Solving
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (5 and up) Goff, Rose Bud, Searcy Libraries, ADLC audio Decision Making Prioritizing Saving
Just Shopping with Mom (4 and up) Rose Bud and Searcy libraries Prioritizing Positive Interactions  
Ox-Cart Man (4 and up) Searcy library Goal Setting Allocating Resources  
Sheep in a Shop (4 and up) Goff and Searcy libraries Decision Making Problem Solving  
Something Good (7 and up) ADLC Prioritizing Positive Interactions  
The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money (4 and up) Pangburn, ADLC Allocating Resources Recognizing Resources Saving


Check back soon for more in-depth resources on some of the books!