It’s never too early to teach your kids good money habits. Setting their financial literacy into motion at a young age will pay off in adulthood, encouraging them to prepare for future financial challenges.
Because kids love stories, books are a great way to keep them engaged while learning smart ways to spend and save. From compelling stories (and illustrations) about characters learning financial discipline to the introduction of banks and currency, your kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning.
1. Benny’s Pennies – written by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Bob Barner
Benny McBride embarks on a mission to buy himself something with his five shiny, new pennies. But he quickly learns it’s more fun to buy gifts he thinks others might enjoy. Relying on some neighborly advice and smart financial decisions, he returns home with gifts for his family and pets instead.
With a catchy rhyming scheme and an easy-to-follow narrative for young kids, this book is both fun and educational. Benny’s penny saga teaches enriching lessons about budgeting money, using everyday math, and the joy kids can get from generous, thoughtful gift-giving.
2. Bunny Money – written and illustrated by Rosemary Wells
Bunny siblings Max and Ruby set out with a wallet full of cash, intending to find a birthday gift for their grandma. Instead, the bunnies disagree on grandma’s present, leading them to encounter a series of unfortunate events that drain Ruby’s hard-earned cash. In the end, Ruby proves herself a caring, responsible sibling — and showcases her financial smarts in the process.
This book is both compelling and educational, as your kids can see Ruby’s wallet throughout the story, knowing exactly how much she starts with and what each purchase costs. The bunnies also teach your kids the importance of tracking expenses and how to compromise on purchases based on their affordability.
3. The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money – written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Brother and Sister Bear struggle with managing their piggy bank. Worried about their careless spending, Mama and Papa Bear suggest they earn their own money to learn the real value of saving and planning. From there, the cubs become little entrepreneurs, launching a lemonade stand and a pet-walking startup. In true rags-to-riches fashion they must learn to avoid becoming money-obsessed.
Your kids can learn valuable money lessons from these fun, familiar characters. This book teaches them baseline entrepreneurial skills, how to grow revenue, and a few classic financial idioms they can use when talking about money.
4. Those Shoes – written by Maribeth Boelts and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
Maribeth Boelts weaves the tale of Jeremy, who’s obsessed with procuring a trendy pair of black high tops that all the cool kids are wearing. The problem is the shoes are too expensive for his family to afford. He gets teased by other kids about his shoes, prompting Jeremy’s grandmother to snag a too-small pair at a thrift store that Jeremy is determined to wear to fit in. In a display of empathy and generosity, however, Jeremy gives his pair to a friend who needs them more.
This book showcases diverse family structures and the complexities of economic hardship. It also emphasizes the difference between wants and needs, appreciating what we have, and the power of charitable giving to those less fortunate.
5. Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday – written by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz
In this popular money lesson for all ages, Alexander gets a dollar from his grandparents that quickly burns a hole in his pocket. He then goes on a spending spree, losing silly bets and unnecessarily renting a snake, only to be left with a few bus tokens and a serious case of buyer’s remorse.
One of several books in Viorst’s beloved Alexander series, this book is full of tips on money management for kids. Through Alexander’s relatable trials and tribulations over his newfound wealth, your kids will learn various types of coins and the discipline it takes to save – and spend –money successfully.
6. Rock, Brock, and the Saving Shock – written by Sheila Bair and illustrated by Barry Gott
Twin brothers Rock and Brock couldn’t be more different. One day, their grandpa imparts a money challenge on the brothers: for ten weeks, he’ll give them each a dollar. For each dollar they save, he will match it, but if they spend the dollar, they get nothing. Hilarity ensues as one brother spends recklessly while the other employs financial disciple and teaches his brother the value of saving.
This is a highly entertaining tale with fun illustrations and powerful money lessons. It not only introduces compound interest in an accessible way, but it also teaches children the value of hard work and how far they can take a dollar by saving it.
7. The Kids’ Money Book: Earning, Saving, Spending, Investing, Donating – written by Jamie Kyle McGillian
If the only thing your children know about money is how to spend it, it may be time to teach them something new. Jamie Kyle McGillian’s thorough, kid-centric financial guide features up-to-date information and fun illustrations that make it easy to follow.
If your kids have lost interest in children’s stories, this nonfiction book will make them feel more grown-up, as it walks them through creating a budget, generating income, investing their earnings, and donating to charity. It also offers great tips on making the most of their allowance.
There are plenty of great books to teach money management to kids. The most important part is to choose an age-appropriate reading level and then keep it fun and engaging. Consider discussing the lessons with your child after reading, and look for ways to bring these lessons into their own experiences.
Santander Bank does not provide financial, tax or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal or financial advice. Santander Bank does not make any claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys, financial consultant or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Santander Bank.