Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Top Five Books on Goods and Services

Click on the title for each book to see book cover and more details.

Title:  Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business
Author and Illustrator Esphyr Slobodkina
Publisher:  HarperCollins
ISBN:  978-0-201-09147-2
Year: 2008 (new edition)
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.1

Concepts:  goods, buyers and sellers, demand and supply

  Years ago, a unique peddler stood out from other salespeople because he carried all his goods on top of his head.  He neatly stacked a bunch of gray, brown, blue, and red caps in a single pile and carefully balanced them on his head as he walked through town, calling “Caps! Caps for Sale! Fifty cents a cap!” But alas, on this particular day, no one purchases a cap.  With no money to buy lunch, the peddler opts for a walk and a nap in the countryside instead.  His troubles multiply when he wakes up to the sight of a group of playful monkeys in the treetop, each wearing one of his caps for sale.  How will he get the caps back?

This classic story, reissued in a new hardcover edition, does not grow old with its humor, ingenuity, and charm.  Underlying the story is an important set of economics concepts related to buyers and sellers in the goods market.  If the demand for caps had been a little stronger, the peddler may have been able to avoid this whole predicament, but therein lies the book’s merriment.  Caps for Sale gets top marks for delivering a story with substantive content that children will enjoy and remember.

Review by:
 Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: Strega Nona Meets Her Match
Author and Illustrator: Tomie dePaola 
Publisher: Putnam
ISBN: 0-399-22421-1
Year: 1993
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.0

Concepts: services, goods

Summary: A rival puts Strega Nona out of the healing business until Big Anthony's assistance inadvertently sabotages the newcomer in his usual well-meaning way.

Source of Summary: Publisher

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Anna the Bookbinder
Author: Andrea Cheng 
Illustrator:  Ted Rand
Publisher: Walker & Company
ISBN: 0-8027-8831-9
Year: 2003
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.5

Concepts: competition, services, entrepreneur

Summary: When her bookbinder father cannot complete an order for an important customer in time, Anna decides to take the fate of the family business into her own hands.

Source of Summary: Publisher

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Ox-Cart Man
Donald Hall
Illustrator:  Barbara Cooney
Publisher: Viking Press
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.5

Concepts: producers, consumers, goods, services

Summary: Describes the day-to-day life throughout the changing seasons of an early 19th-century New England family.

Source of Summary: Publisher

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Title: Piper Reed Gets a Job
Author:  Kimberly Willis Holt
Illustrator:  Christine Davenier
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Company
ISBN:  978-0-8050-8199-2
Year:  2009

Concepts:  services, jobs, savings, earnings, choices

Review: Piper Reed has no shortage of energy, creativity, and ideas. So when it becomes painfully obvious that she and the other members of the Gypsy Club need a clubhouse to hold their meetings, Piper comes up with a great idea for earning the money to purchase one.  She will start a birthday party planning business, and little Brady’s birthday party next door will be the first event she plans.  Unfortunately, Piper becomes a bit overwhelmed by the clubhouse sticker price ($1999.00), and she starts to accept additional jobs in an effort to save enough money.  Her intentions may be good, but too many competing demands on her time can lead to some major mishaps that Piper never factored into her plans.
With its fast-paced plot and vivacious lead character, this book makes learning some basic lessons in economics fun and interesting.  Busy children and their parents can even feel the building stress as Piper juggles more obligations than she can handle. Reading about jobs, choices, and earning money can be a zany experience with Piper Reed at the helm.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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