Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Text-to-World Connections

Numerous books can be used to explore "text-to-world" connections in which students relate the ideas from their books to the economic, business, and financial interactions they observe in the world around them.

Here are some excellent examples.

1)  The Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 was awarded to Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a banker and economist who founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh.  Dr. Yunus developed the idea of microfinance, which includes very small loans to low-income people (often women) in developing countries to start their own businesses.

Children can read two excellent picture books that incorporate this idea.  In A Basket of Bangles: How a Business Grows, a woman and her firends takes out small loans through this microfinance system to start their own businesses and improve their well-being.  In One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, a young boy uses a small loan to buy a hen, which ultimately leads to one of the largest egg-selling businesses in West Africa.

Then children can learn more about efforts to support microfinance from the non-profit organization Pedals for Progress, and from the website

2)  The Nobel Prize in Economics for 2006 was awarded to Dr. Edmund S. Phelps, an economist from Columbia University.  Research by Dr. Phelps has helped people to better understand the relationship between inflation and unemployment.

Although it is difficult to find the concept of inflation in books for younger students, several picture books can help children better understand the idea of unemployment and job loss.  They include:
   *  The Lucky Star
   *  Fly Away Home
   *  Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story

3)  On the lighter side, many children like to eat chocolate.  They can read the book Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory and then watch a free video on the internet about making chocolate.  The concepts they learn are natural, human, and capital resources.

Link to video:

4)  Children can learn about another Nobel Prize winner in Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai.  In 2004 Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize, the first African woman to receive this honor.  Her simple but powerful idea to start planting trees and stop Kenya's deforestation grew into a national movement that ultimately led to over forty million new trees planted.