During tax season, we often find ourselves crunching numbers and thinking about our savings. If you’re a parent or grandparent, or even a spectacular aunt or uncle, seize this moment to talk to the littles in your life about money.
Preschool is the time to introduce the basic concepts of earning, spending, budgeting and saving. Ages 3-6 is not too early to lay a foundation of frugal thinking before your kid’s elementary school teacher beats you to it. Most states teach some lessons on personal finance in the classroom during K-12, but you can get a jumpstart on these valuable lessons by incorporating these whimsical children’s books into storytime at home.
Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells – This picture book for 3 to 6-year-olds, part of the bestselling Max and Ruby series, teaches a lesson in budgeting. These two bunnies have saved up money for Grandma’s birthday gift, but they stumble along the way when they get thirsty and hungry and their savings are spent.
What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry – I love this 1968 classic. And while it doesn’t spell out lessons in saving, it’s an excellent teaching tool for little ones to discover occupations. It unpacks the idea of “Mommy’s going to work” or “Daddy’s going to work” for a young mind and informs them about all the different types of jobs people have to earn money. Recommended for ages 3-7. Collector’s note: The original 1968 edition is also available.
One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu – This primer on coins and currency from the new Cat in the Hat books, written in the style of the late Dr. Seuss, is recommended for ages 4-8.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams – This Caldecott Honor picture book for ages 4-8 teaches the value of working towards a goal. And it’s a humbling story about a family who loses their possessions in a fire.
If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz, illustrated by Steven Kellogg – In this picture book geared for ages 4-8, a magician and his team of helpers learn about earning money at jobs. They talk about what money looks like and how you can use it, even to pay off a loan. If you’re looking to build your little one’s money vocabulary, this book will do it with words like interest and compound interest, checking accounts, loans and income tax.
Curious George Saves His Pennies by Margret & H.A. Rey – George reeeeally wants a new toy from the toy store. What parent hasn’t been in this moment?! This little monkey learns how to earn money and how to add up his coins. Recommended for ages 4-9.
The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense by Stan and Jan Berenstain – Brother and Sister Bear learn how to manage their allowances and Mama Bear introduces them to a checkbook. This paperback book published in 2001 includes some pretend checks you can tear out and use at home. There’s also a 1983 publication of The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money.
Amelia Bedelia Means Business by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril – If you’ve got an Amelia Bedelia fan in your house, then this one’s for you! This is the first chapter book in the series, recommended for ages 6-10, in which she figures out how to earn some dough for a new bike.
The Penny Pot by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Lynne Cravath – This counting-coins picture book, geared for ages 6-10, is level 3 in the MathStart series. At a school fair, Jessie wants to get her face painted and it costs 50 cents. But she’s already bought ice cream and only has 39 cents left.
Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz – This is the same Alexander who you might recognize from another book about a “very bad day” but this time, he’s learning some lessons about saving and spending money. Recommended for ages 6-10.