Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Top Five Books on Money and Banking

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


Title:  Making Cents
Author:  Elizabeth Keeler Robinson
Illustrator:  Bob McMahon
Publisher:  Tricycle Press
ISBN:  1-58246-214-3
Year:  2008

Concepts:  money, exchange

Review: A group of resourceful kids are saving up their pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and paper bills of various denominations in order to purchase supplies for a fabulous new project.  Along the way, the kids describe to the reader the monetary value of different coins and bills, some interesting tidbits about the physical appearance of the currency, and examples of items of increasing value that can be purchased with the money. The cheerful illustrations and straightforward text will appeal to children who otherwise may object to a dose of math and economics. The helpful facts and clear presentation in Making Cents can readily empower children to learn about money and take their first steps toward gaining financial literacy.

Review by:
  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

  Isabel's Car Wash
Author:  Sheila Bair
Illustrator:  Judy Stead
Publisher:  Albert Whitman & Company
ISBN: 978-0-8075-3652-0
Year:  2008

Concepts:  profit, risk, entrepreneur, service, saving, money

Review:  Isabel Dinero, a resourceful child with good ideas, has a dilemma.  The doll she wants more than anything else in the world has gone on sale for ten dollars, but Isabel has only fifty cents to her name.  Undaunted, she decides to earn the money by holding a car wash.  After all, the recent spate of bad weather had left many car owners with dirty cars and long lines at the car wash.  As a budding entrepreneur, Isabel soon encounters a stumbling block: she needs five dollars to purchase special car-washing soap and towels before she can start her business.  Her solution is to borrow a dollar from each of her five friends, with the promise that she will pay them back from the profits, plus a small extra amount.  Will Isabel’s friends see a return on their investment to compensate them for the risk they are taking?

This superb book, written by the current chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and one of the most influential women in the business world, provides an excellent opportunity to improve the financial literacy of young children.  Sophisticated ideas such as financial risk, entrepreneurship, and profits are carefully woven into an enjoyable story that children will understand. The bright, cheerful illustrations further contribute to the book’s appeal.  With the financial crisis having made headlines all over the world, this book could not come at a better time.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

If You Made a Million
Author: David M. Schwartz
Illustrator: Steven Kellogg
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books
ISBN: 0-688-07017-5
Year: 1989
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  4.1

Concepts: interest, checks, loans, banking, opportunity cost, money

Summary: Describes the various forms which money can take, including coins, paper money, and personal checks, and how it can be used to make purchases, pay off loans, or build interest in the bank.

Source of Summary: Publisher

How to Get This Book

Title:  One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
Author: Katie Smith Milway
Illustrator:  Eugenie Fernandes
Publisher:  Kids Can Press
ISBN:  978-1-55453-028-1
Year:  2008
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.6

Concepts:  human resources, entrepreneurs, microfinance, loans, banks, money, producers, economic role of government, child schooling and work

  A child named Kojo lived with his mother in a tiny village in the Ashanti region of Ghana. The villagers came up with the idea of pooling their savings and making small loans to alternating village members for various business activities. When it was Kojo’s mother’s turn to receive a loan, she purchased a pushcart to help her sell more firewood at the market, and Kojo used the few leftover coins to buy a hen. 

That single hen made an enormous difference not only to Kojo and his mother, but ultimately to the entire country. The hen laid enough eggs for Kojo and his mother to enrich their diets and for Kojo to sell the extras at the market. Saving the egg money enabled Kojo to purchase another hen, and after a year, Kojo had a flock of 25 hens. Selling all their eggs yielded Kojo enough money pay the fees for school, where, after many years, he gained the qualifications he needed to become a commercial farmer. Another loan after his graduation helped him to start a new poultry farm that grew to become Ghana’s largest farm, leading not only to job creation but also to export earnings and tax revenues.

Based on true events in the life of Kwabena Darko, a successful poultry farmer from Ghana, this informative book makes an excellent resource for teaching children about loans and entrepreneurship. Moreover, the book provides a nice opportunity to teach children about the work of Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a banker and economist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for developing the idea of microfinance, which includes very small loans to low-income people to start their own businesses.  Colorful illustrations and a child’s point of view make this lesson accessible and interesting to young learners.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

How to Get This Book

Title: Bunny Money
Author and Illustrator: Rosemary Wells
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 0-8037-2146-3
Year: 1997
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 2.8

Concepts: needs vs wants, money

Summary: Max and Ruby spend so much on emergencies while shopping for Grandma's birthday presents, that they just barely have enough money left for gifts.

Source of Summary: Publisher

How to Get This Book