Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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New Picture Books in 2010

Just click on the titles to read our original reviews for these picture books and easy readers published in 2010.

Title: A Kid's Guide to the Economy
Author: Tamra Orr
Publisher: Mitchell Lane
ISBN: 978-1-58415-836-3
Year: 2010

Concepts: supply and demand, markets, prices, business cycle, unemployment, inflation, competition

Review: Just about every state has content standards beginning in kindergarten covering important concepts in economics. These content requirements, together with the media attention paid to the importance of financial literacy, have led to a greater need for books that will help children to become more informed about the economic world around them. The new book series Money Matters: A Kid’s Guide to Money helps to fill a niche in this literature.

One of the books in the series, A Kid’s Guide to the Economy, offers students a crash course in some of the most important concepts of micro and macroeconomics. Examples include the production of goods and services in a national economy, the role of competition in setting market prices, how waves of economic expansion and recession follow each other in the business cycle, and how downturns result in hardships for families such as unemployment and foreclosure. Some of these topics are not covered in school mandates until the high school grades and others in the middle grades, so the book’s target audience definitely reaches beyond younger learners. They will gain a broad overview of the functioning of the marketplace and will be prepared for a more intensive treatment in subsequent economics lessons.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: A Picture Book of Cesar Chavez
Author: David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler
Illustrator: Marie Olofsdotter
Publisher: Holiday House
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2202-9
Year: 2010

Concepts: labor conditions, worker rights, wages, employment, social justice, labor organizing

Review: Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and a highly influential civil rights leader, learned from his parents to value dignity even in the face of poverty. The Great Depression had caused his family to lose their Arizona farm and to move to California in search of work. Already at a young age Cesar helped his family to earn a living by picking fruits and vegetables. Constantly on the move (sometimes in response to especially poor working conditions that the family refused to tolerate), Cesar attended sixty-five elementary schools and was forced to drop out of school at the age of fifteen to work full-time.

As a young adult, Cesar channeled these hardships into action, beginning with a voter registration drive and subsequently with the formation of a fruit pickers union. Over time he used a variety of forceful but nonviolent methods to advocate for farm workers’ rights, including marches, church meetings, sit-ins, boycotts, and hunger strikes. His organizing tactics resulted not only in higher wages, benefits, and improved working conditions for farm workers, but also in the promotion of Latino civil rights.

Experienced biographer David Adler and his son do an excellent job in helping children become more familiar with an important advocate for social justice and worker rights. The detailed narrative is nicely balanced with a compelling story and bold illustrations to keep younger readers thoroughly engaged.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title: Almost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book
Author:  Nikki Grimes
Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie
Publisher:  G.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN:  978-0-399-25177-1
Year:  2010

Concepts: wants and needs, scarcity, choices

Review:  Outspoken third-grader Dyamonde Daniel has returned for another interesting adventure, this one involving an agonizing lesson about true needs. When stylish Tameeka showed up at school in a fabulous new pair of pink high-tops, Dyamonde told her mother that she absolutely had to have the same pair in red. Mom had different ideas though, and she emptied almost all the contents of Dyamonde's closet to help her better distinguish between wants and needs. This lesson was further reinforced for Dyamonde when a serious fire left a classmate's family with virtually nothing except the clothes on their backs.

Award-winning author Nikki Grimes has built on the Dyamonde Daniel series with another book that weaves together engaging characters, a unique story, and a powerful lesson. This short novel provides a good opportunity to talk with children about wants and needs, one of the first economics concepts to which young learners are exposed in elementary school. Dyamonde Daniel is a very real and likeable character; young readers are bound to eagerly anticipate her next learning experience.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead 
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
ISBN: 978-1-59643-402-8
Year: 2010

Concepts:  human resources, jobs


As reliable as rain, Amos McGee is always at his job at the city zoo bright and early. Although the zookeeper has plenty of responsibilities, Amos always makes time for his particular friends, the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl, doing things to make them happy, whether that be playing chess or reading books. But one day, Amos wakes up sick and most stay home. To help him weather his cold, the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl come to his house to cheer him up.

This simply told story is complemented by grayscale pencil drawings with just a splash of color, proving that sometimes less really is more. Together, this husband and wife team have created what is sure to become a classic.

 Although the story’s main focus is on friendship and kindness, this book allows adults to talk to children about simple economic concepts as well. Children can be introduced to the exciting job of a zookeeper and will learn that sometimes adults need sick days, too!

Review by:
The Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

 Amazing Faces
Poems selected by: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator:   Chris Soentpiet
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
ISBN: 978-1-60060-334-1
Year: 2010

Concepts: human resources, jobs, producers and consumers

   Just as everyone has a story to tell, every person's face portrays a unique blend of feelings, history, and background. This new anthology presents children with 16 poems by an acclaimed group of poets and authors, each expressing a compelling set of circumstances and emotions. Illustrator Chris Soentpiet has applied his distinctive style to the accompanying paintings, all of which portray people across diverse age groups and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Several of the poems and illustrations convey an economic setting or story, including a young child who sits with his mother while she works as a seamstress in Chinatown, a bilingual girl who is pleased to be able to read both the Spanish and English parts of a Mexican restaurant's menu, and a tired firefighter who labors on to put out the flames. It can be a nice change of pace to introduce children to economic themes using poetry and art, and this anthology certainly fits the bill.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 

How to Get This Book