“Research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others indicate that the personal traits, habits, and behaviors that lead to financial well-being in adulthood start to form as early as preschool.”
~CFPB Money As You Grow Book Club Guide
Parents often ask me: “When is the right age to start teaching kids about money?”
My standard response is: “As soon as they ask for something at the checkout stand, they’re ready.”
How do you ease into financial concepts with the younger set? A fun story. Try an age-appropriate money-themed book.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau makes the case well in their implementation guide for the Money As You Grow Book Club Guide
“Reading books with children is a creative way to learn about the many sides of money management. Talking about the mistakes Alexander makes with his money in Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday can help children more carefully consider similar decisions. Talking about how Mom can help her children accept ‘no’ as the answer when they have the ‘I wants’ in Mercer Mayer’s Just Shopping with Mom can help children understand and better cope with a ‘no’ in real life.”
The guide recommends nine introductory books for young children:
- Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday
- A Bargain for Frances
- Just Shopping with Mom
- A Chair For My Mother
- Ox-Cart Man
- Sheep in a Shop
- The Berenstain Bears & Mama’s New Job
- The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money
- The Purse
The guide includes a matrix of the key ideas covered in each book, suggested related activities, and tips for how to get the most out of the reading experience. It’s a bit formal and dense (hey, it’s a government publication!), but it’s worth skimming.
If you’re looking for a more accessible and personal rundown on the books, check out this delightful post by Jim Wang over at WalletHacks. He sat down and read through each book with his five year old son. You’ll get a good sense for the reception and key takeaways you can expect from a typical youngster.
If you tackle all nine books and hunger for more or need to satisfy an older audience, check out my crowd sourced list: Best Children’s Books for Money Lessons. If you have a favorite and don’t see it on the list, be sure to submit a nomination.
Now is the perfect time to curl up with your youngster, enjoy a good money-themed book together, and give your kid an early jump-start on the road to financial well-being.
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