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MPower Co has a monthly book club featuring books on personal finance and positive psychology. For September the books read were all books for children and specifically around the topic of children’s financial literacy. 

It may seem as an adult like a departure from reading adult’s nonfiction; however, having two girls focusing on their financial literacy is important. Also, sometimes reading children’s books can help simplify issues at hand and remind one of what is the most important. 

So, for September, the following were the four children’s financial literacy books that the MPC Book Club read: 

  1. “Kids’ Money Book” by Neale S Godfrey
  2. “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts
  3. “Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock” by Sheila Bair
  4. “If You Made a Million” by David M Schwartz

Now, for more detail from each book on key messages, uses for the book, and more: 

“Kids’ Money Book” by Neale S. Godfrey

“Kids’ Money Book” by Neale S. Godfrey

“Kids’ Money Book” is clearly to be used as a nonfiction reference book. It’s not a sit-down and read-front-cover-to-back-cover book.

It is great for starting discussions with children about how personal finance works. It covers the topics of physical money, checks, and then talks about banks, checking accounts, credit, economics, and more. 

Example Activities

Because of the pandemic, we have chosen to keep our daughters home from daycare. One service we have loved is Zoom art class with a local kids’ art business. One of the online classes they have is a storytime art class, where the instructor reads a book and then they guide the kids to do an art project based on the message of the book. 

“Kids’ Money Book” has the perfect set up to do this type of learning with respect to each section and children’s financial literacy. Let me give a couple of examples. 

Coins Up Close

Chapter 2, Section 3 of “Kids’ Money Book” is called “Coins Up Close.” It talks about the different mints, how the year of the minting is on the coins, etc. It’s probably easy to see where I’m going with this… 

Pick out a handful of coins or empty out the penny jar and look through them. Encourage your kid(s) to sort the coins by mint, by year, by type of coin. This can easily be expanded into adding up the amount of money in the penny jar. 

Big Banks, Little Banks, Piggy Banks

Chapter 4, Section 2 is called “Big Banks, Little Banks, Piggy Banks”. Extend the coin sorting party by actually taking the coins to a local bank or credit union to have the coins counted and get paper money in return. 

Saving and Spending – What’s the Plan?

Chapter 3, Section 3 is called “Saving and Spending – What’s the Plan?” After getting paper money, talk with your child about saving some and spending some. Talk with them about what they would like to buy most and then take them to the store and let them spend it. 

As children get older, revert back to the book to talk about savings accounts and checking accounts, etc. 

What I Liked Most about “Kids’ Money Book”

“Kids’ Money Book” does not shy away from terminology. Children’s financial literacy is enhanced when we call a spade a spade, or in this case a penny a penny. The book is sophisticated in the language that it uses.

For younger children, don’t shy away from using the terms interest, credit, installment, etc. They may not completely understand it when you use them the first few times; however, the more you use them, the sooner they will pick up the words and the sooner they will become comfortable with understanding others and expressing their financial views. 

“Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts

“Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts

“Those Shoes” was easily my favorite of the three fiction children’s financial literacy books that I chose to read. It simply was my favorite because it was so full of meaning. It touched on so many financial values that I really appreciated the depth of this book.

Three of the messages that I want to highlight are as follows: 

  1. The first message was clearly prioritizing what was needed over what we want. The boy had a pair of shoes, but he didn’t have winter boots. Going into winter, having one pair of winter boots is more important than having two pairs of tennis shoes. 
  1. The message for adults that I took away from the book was to let children make poor financial decisions at times. By letting them make poor decisions, we are giving them an opportunity to learn. The boy finds a pair of shoes and grandma refuses to buy them for him because they do not fit. However, she let the boy use his own money to buy the ill-fitting shoes. I think this message is so important, and it was something that I included in this blog post about 12 ways to teach kids personal finance. 
  1. Finally, I always love it when children’s books focus on being generous, and this book certainly did that. The main character gives away the ill-fitting shoes to another kid because he realizes the other kid would be able to wear them. It is a story about doing what’s right, even if it means giving up something for ourselves. 

What I liked Most about “Those Shoes”

“Those Shoes” was extremely relatable. The message is so strong that my four-year-old white daughter could completely identify with the main character who is a Black boy.

While reading the book with my oldest daughter, she stopped me in the middle of the book to express that she identified with the main character. When the boy’s shoe fell apart, it reminded her about a time recently when the front wheel of her balance bike lost a bolt and kept falling off while on a walk. She was embarrassed by her bike during that walk, something that will forever be ingrained in my parenting memory. 

It is so nice to read a book and have your child empathize and associate themselves with the characters. It was clear to me that this book would be relatable to a lot of kids for different reasons. I think that is the sign of a great book! 

“Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock” by Sheila Bair

“Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock” by Sheila Bair

This fictional book was probably the most entertaining of the stories for the September MPC Book Club. It’s about two boys whose grandpa gives them a job to do each day and then pays them for it. One saves the money and grandpa compounds his money while the other one is spendy with the money he earns. Grandpa doesn’t give the spender more money.

The book is clearly about compounding interest, and when we put aside money, there is the ability for that money to grow to a significant amount. 

At the end of the book, there is even an illustration of compounding interest and about growing $1 to $512 based on the deal grandpa gave the boys. There is also an illustration that shows how $1 only becomes $64 after ten weeks if money is spent throughout. 

While the illustration is a little advanced for my four-year-old, I think it would be a fun discussion item for a few years down the road. My four-year-old did clearly understand the message that saving means money grows while spending means getting things. 

I love that again this story was about a grandparent relationship like “Those Shoes.” Grandparents truly have the ability to change their grandchildren’s lives if they choose to be involved and take the time to hone in on some themes of teaching. As adults think about the kids whose lives can be impacted by doing a similar kind of activity. Seeing and experiencing is believing and habit building. 

What I liked Most about “Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock”

This children’s financial literacy book was silly. The entire book was a poem with rhymes. We couldn’t help but laugh when two lines rhymed “loot” and “toot.” 

“Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock” is the perfect reminder that personal finance doesn’t always have to be dry, especially when being delivered to kids. It’s a reminder that being silly can also get a message across. It’s the reminder as adults that when talking about finance we don’t always have to be serious and can have fun with personal finance as well. 

“If You Made a Million” by David M Schwartz

“If You Made a Million” by David M Schwartz

Our final book for our September focus on children’s financial literacy was “If You Made a Million.” I would argue that the message of this book was the simplest of the four books. It illustrated the different values of coins, paper money, and checks. It also talked about how banks provide interest if you decide to save money. 

Overall this book was pretty simple. The message was if you work, you will get money. If you get money and save it, you will get more money. 

What I liked Most about “If You Made a Million”

While the message was simple, the illustrations were what made this book. The book used actual images of coins to illustrate the point of how different it looks when you have nickels vs pennies, but that the value could be the same. It illustrated it with paper money as well. 

When I read this book with our four-year-old, I then turned it into an activity. Again we got out the penny jar. I would ask her would you rather have one quarter or three nickels. Because she is four, she chooses the three nickels. I then laid out two dimes and seven pennies. Again, because our daughter is four, she chose the seven pennies. Over time, she will get that the quarter and dimes, respectively are the better deal. 

This is a game that can easily be played when sitting and waiting for anything (appointments, dinner to be ready, etc.). 

Ready to Participate in the MPC Book Club? 

If you want to work on your adult and children’s financial literacy, increase your positivity, and more, join us on social media for the MPC Book Club! 

Each month MPower Co announces a new book. On Sunday night’s a dialogue box is posted and on Monday’s Lea, MPower Co’s CEO, does a Facebook Live to discuss the dialogue and highlights she extracted from the books.

It is highly encouraged to obtain books from a local library or bookstore. 

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get up-to-date information on the MPC Book Club. We look forward to hearing from you!