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: Jack's Path of Courage
Author: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator: Matt Tavares
Publisher: Hyperion Books
ISBN: 978-1423122722
Year: 2010

Concepts: careers, poverty, racial discrimination, social justice.

Review: John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, worked tirelessly for civil rights, peace, and poverty alleviation at home and in the developing world. Most children have learned about President Kennedy’s youth, charisma, and courage, as well as the tragic assassination that robbed this country of a great leader. However, they may know less about Kennedy’s vulnerable side, especially the comparisons he endured as a youth with his more successful older brother Joe, and the back pain and surgeries that plagued him from his football playing days in college through to the presidency.

Entwined in the biographical narrative are a series of economics lessons related to Kennedy’s career development as a writer and politician, his Peace Corps initiative to send American volunteers to developing countries, and the stand he took against racial discrimination. Vivid illustrations based on research of archived photographs from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library give this book a vivaciousness that helps young readers to better comprehend the magnitude of Kennedy’s many challenges and contributions.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children




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Title: Librarian on the Roof! A True Story
Author: M.G. King
Illustrator: Stephen Gilpin
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
ISBN: 978-0-8075-4512-6
Year: 2010

Concepts: human resources, jobs, fundraising, public services

Review: RoseAleta Laurell had already built a strong reputation as a mover and shaker during her tenure as library director at Dr. Eugene Clark Library, the oldest public library in Texas. She had overseen a thorough restoration and expansion of the building, brought in more Spanish resources, and pressed for greater public access to library computers.

Ms. Laurell outdid herself, though, in October 2000 when she went on a major fundraising drive by camping out for a week in a tent that she pitched on the library’s dome rooftop. She aimed to raise $20,000 to fund the creation of a children’s section, but would people respond to such an outrageous stunt?

Based on a true story, young learners will gain an interesting account of the energy and creativity that can go into fundraising efforts, particularly during lean economic times when donors are less willing to open their wallets and pocketbooks. Cartoon-style illustrations and the catchy title will help to draw in readers who otherwise may avoid a book about finances and community activism.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Lily's Victory Garden (Tales of Young Americans Series)
Author: Helen L. Wilbur
Illustrator:  Robert Gantt Steele
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 978-1-58536-450-3
Year: 2010

Concepts: natural resources, human resources, allocation, distribution, scarcity, economics of conflict

 Although Lily lived far away from the battles of World War II and was too young to work in the factories at home, she still felt the impact of the war everyday and did as much as she could to serve on the home front.  Lily and her brother regularly collected tin cans, scrap metal, and cans of grease from around the neighborhood to contribute to the war effort. She had also gotten used to living with shortages and standing in long lines for rationed goods.

When Lily heard that the government was encouraging citizens to contribute to the production of fruits and vegetables by growing “Victory Gardens,” she tried to enter the local lottery for a small land plot. When told that she was too young, Lily decided that she would ask the Bishops, the couple with the largest house and yard in town, if she could use a small section of their land.  Little did she realize the extent to which her actions stirred up not only the earth in the garden but also the emotions of the Bishops, who had been grieving the loss of their son in the war.

This touching book can help younger children understand the very personal repercussions of war, ranging from the loss of family members to widespread scarcities of basic consumption goods. Vibrant paintings and an informative author’s note add to the book’s message about the importance of community action and support during times of need.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 

How to Get This Book

  Lightning Bolt Books - Exploring Economics Series
Author:  Jennifer Larson and Robin Nelson
Publisher:  Lerner Publications Company

978-0-7613-3910-6 (What Can You Do With Money? Earning, Spending, and Saving)
978-0-7613-3911-3 (Where Do We Keep Money? How Banks Work)
978-0-7613-3912-0 (Who's Buying? Who's Selling? Understanding Consumers and Producers)
978-0-7613-3913-7 (What Do We Buy? A Look at Goods and Services?)
978-0-7613-3914-4 (Do I Need It? Or Do I Want It? Making Budget Choices)
978-0-7613-3915-1 (What is Money Anyway? Why Dollars and Coins Have Value?)


Concepts:  money, banking, producers & consumers, goods & services, wants & needs, budgets, resources, saving, choices, costs & benefits, markets, prices

Younger students enter school with an experience-based knowledge of economics and the ability to learn a range of basic principles. Early introduction of key economics principles provides an important set of tools that form the building blocks of economic and financial literacy. This idea underlies the increased availability of interesting children’s books to help younger learners gain a basic understanding of the economic and financial world around them.

The Lightning Bolt Books‒ Exploring Economics series makes a solid contribution to this growing literature with its lively photographs, clear and simple text directed to younger students, practice exercises, and helpful reference materials. The series cover a range of fundamental concepts in economics that students are often expected to learn in the early years. The books have some overlap in the concepts they define, albeit with differing levels of detail, making them informative as stand-alone books yet mutually reinforcing.

The series currently has six books. What Can You Do With Money? explores how people earn money and then make choices about how much to save and spend; Where Do We Keep Money? highlights the role of banks in helping people save money and take out loans; Who's Buying? Who's Selling? describes how producers and consumers make decisions and interact in the market;  What Do We Buy? focuses on the differences between goods and services as well as the types of resources used in their production; Do I Need It? Or Do I Want It? emphasizes how people think about wants versus needs and how they utilize budgets when making decisions about money; and What is Money Anyway? discusses the origins and production of money and how money serves as a medium of exchange.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title: Little Diva
Author:  LaChanze
Illustrator:  Brian Pinkney
Publisher:  Feiwel and Friends
ISBN:  978-0-312-37010-7
Year: 2010

Concepts: careers, human resources, jobs

Review:  Nena's mom acts, sings, and dances on Broadway, and Nena wants nothing more than to be a Diva just like her. When her mother says that divas work hard all day long to become Broadway stars, Nena decides she wants to start her training now. Eating a healthy breakfast, exercising her vocal chords, and watching the behind-the-scenes preparations before a show goes on; these steps and more become part of Nena's diva-in-training regimen. Reaching for that big dream will take a lot of work.

This engaging children's book by acclaimed actress LaChanze and noted artist Brian Pinkney lets readers know they are never too young to start dreaming about careers. The text and illustrations work well together to give a glimpse of the hard work behind the glamour of stardom as well as the different jobs involved in producing a Broadway show.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children


How to Get This Book