Favorite books about kids and money? Talk amongst yourselves.

J. D. at Get Rich Slowly just posted 25 of the books he’d choose to build a personal finance library. He included three books that deal with teaching kids about money and entrepreneurship: What Color is Your Piggy Bank?, You Call the Shots, and Living Simply with Children. It got me thinking that, despite my intimidation about the prospect of introducing my kids to the finer points of finance, I’ve never cracked a book on the topic.

Do you have any favorite books about kids and money? I’d be interested to hear about personal finance books you’ve found helpful, but I’d also like to know about any storybooks or works of fiction that got you talking with your kids about money.

In my case, that would be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you’ll recall, Charlie’s family was extremely poor, and his diet of cabbage soup and his longing for a single candy bar got my son and me talking about all sorts of interesting things, including food preferences, "wants" versus "needs," and gratitude. What if we only had enough money to buy cabbage for dinner? (My son hates cabbage.)


  1. sudha says


    Kids and Money has always been a topic of varied discussion and opinions among my friends and me.
    I agree that its an important skill to pass on. However, I’m not one of those, who give weekly allowances to chores done. I believe, that living as a family, it is important to teach kids, sharing responsibility and doing things for one another.
    So no money for chores or doing homework!

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    is also my favorite :)
    another one we love, Alexandar who was rich last Sunday.

    In the process of trying some new things out. will let you all know how it worked out.

    Love this site, Great job!

  2. says

    My favorite novel with a money subplot is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Two kids run away to the Museum of Art in NYC, and there is much discussion of how they can make the money they’ve saved for the adventure stretch for a while. Only problem? Written in, oh, the 1970s, I think. Maybe earlier. So the budget isn’t especially realistic. But the concept is great.

  3. says

    Arthur’s Funny Money by Lillian Hoban (author of Frances books) is good for introducing the idea of earning/buying/selling to preschoolers…and early elementary aged kids can read it themselves (I can read book 2). It’s only $3.99 at Amazon:


    I’ve only read it once to my 4 year-old but it held her interest, and she can read some of it herself.

    We also have a bank that’s divided in three sections: one for saving (bank), one for tithing (church), and one for spending (store). We got it from CBD.com but it’s made by Larry Burkett and Crown Ministries, who have lots of great financial resources for adults and kids.

  4. Jill says

    This hack comes just as we were discussing giving our 5yo an allowance and bank to give/save/spend. I got to browsing for some other sites and have found some good stuff out there. The web page http://www.kidsmoney.org/allart.htm has lots of articles about allowances, http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/01/14/the-money-savvy-pig-and-my-sons-allowance/ has a great piggy bank with save/spend/donate/invest categories plus some good discussion, and over at Bank of Dad http://www.amazon.com/First-National-Bank-Dad-Teach/dp/0756776252/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-1590192-3296843?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173489829&sr=8-1 David Owen gives his method of introducing interest and more details about money to children. All good sources. I’ve got some reading to do!

  5. Charles in Seattle says

    So I’m still new to this whole concept of every book you read to your kids/your kid reads having some moral value to it, but I’m catching on pretty quick. This is well beyond my 3 year-old (for now) but how about something that teaches them wealth mentality, not just squeak by, get-by mentality. Try this out for your kids, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780446677486&itm=4 , then try this one for yourself, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780446677455&itm=1

  6. Deb says

    Another website to try for teaching kids about money is http://www.sharesavespend.com.

    Also, we have found a practical way to make the 3 bank system is to use 3 emptied plastic parmesan cheese containers with flip top lids. I printed out labels for each one that say, Share, Save, Spend to put on each one.

  7. says

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my faves as a kid as well. But looking back on it and my life, I think the fact that it all happens because Charlie is one of the winners of what’s essentially a lottery is not a great conception of moeny/wealth/opportunity to be passing on to the little ones. There’s nothing less realistic than to grow up factoring a lottery windfall into one’s worldview.

  8. says

    You know, Josh, it was less about the lottery winning, and more about the illustration of poverty before the whole Golden Ticket thing even happened. The fact that this kid’s family was too poor to have more than one bed for the grandparents, or to spend extra money on candy. Believe it or not, that’s a totally foreign concept for most middle-class kids…whether or not their parents are rich, they generally have what they need to survive. These kids never have to question if there’s enough money to put food on the table. To see that not all kids live that way — that’s eye-opening.

  9. says

    Ahh, PH Ed – great point. For me, growing up, money was scarce, especially in the very early days. Having never won the lottery or known anyone who did, I developed an allergy of sorts to the lottery-as-savior mentality. But now, my wee son is definitely going to grow up in a more privileged situation, and I see precisely what you mean – there’s a ton of value in teaching kids about some of the harder facts of socioeconomic life. I suppose the key is what one emphasizes to one’s kids while teaching them. E.g., that the instructive thing about Cinderella is not that you should wait around for someone else to come along and change your life, but that by craftiness and determination, you can change your lot in life, even in the face of odious oppression. Right on.