One of the trickiest jobs for parents is figuring out how to teach kids about money. You want your kids to know the basics of personal finance, like how to stick to a budget, use a bank, and save for long-term goals. But how do you explain these concepts to a 5-year-old?
A good book can help. There are lots of children’s books that introduce basic financial ideas in terms kids can understand. By reading these books aloud to young children, or discussing them with older kids, you can start a conversation about money on their level.
The Best Personal Finance Books for Kids
Most children’s books about money illustrate financial ideas through stories kids can relate to. For instance, our pick for the top kids’ money book, “Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock,” uses a tale of two brothers to show kids how — and why — to save money.
Other money books for children teach lessons about saving, banking, giving, and even starting a business. Books for the youngest readers — ages 3 to 5 — focus on simple money lessons, while those for older kids deal with more sophisticated ideas.
The volumes on this list are the best books we’ve found to provide the basics of a financial education in a kid-friendly way.
Best Overall: “Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock” by Sheila Bair
Reviewers across the board — parents, educators, and teachers — love Sheila Bair’s “Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock.” Bair, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, uses a relatable story to illustrate the benefits of saving and the power of compound interest.
Twins Rock and Brock get a great offer from their grandfather. For 10 weeks, he’ll pay them $1 each to mow his lawn and wash his car — and he’ll match what they save out of that. One twin can’t resist spending his earnings, while the other ends up with a tidy $512 in savings.
Written in verse, with colorful illustrations by Barry Gott, this book will appeal to young children. But the story and the lesson it teaches have value for older ones, too. The ideal age is probably 8 to 10 years old. A study guide for the book targets third- and fourth-grade classes.
Best for Saving: “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams
Vera B. Williams’s “A Chair for My Mother” is a touching tale about a multi-generational family that has lost their home in a house fire. Starting over in a new apartment, the family saves coins in a jar to buy a comfortable chair for the young girl’s hard-working waitress mother.
This story offers a wealth of money lessons for young readers. It covers the value of hard work, cooperation, budgeting, saving, and comparison shopping. And it’s all in simple language that’s suitable for children between 4 and 9 years old.
“A Chair for My Mother” has earned many honors. It received the Caldecott Honor medal for Williams’ beautiful illustrations. It’s on the New York Public Library’s list of 100 Great Children’s Books, and it’s been featured on the TV show “Reading Rainbow.
Best for Setting Priorities: “Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday” by Judith Viorst
Author Judith Viorst’s child hero Alexander — best known for his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day — returns in “Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday.” This time, his problem is not knowing how to manage money.
He receives a whole dollar from his grandparents and fantasizes about all he can do with it. But instead, he fritters it away on foolish purchases and ends up broke once again.
Viorst’s simple language and the illustrations by Ray Cruz make the book suitable for children as young as 4. However, the humorous story holds appeal for kids up to 9 years old. There’s a free online lesson plan to go with the book for grades K-2.
Best for Banking: “Money Monsters: The Missing Money” by Okeoma Moronu-Schreiner
Kai, the young protagonist of Okeoma Moronu-Schreiner’s “Money Monsters: The Missing Money,” is a worrier. On his very first trip to the bank, he mistakes the ATM for a monster that’s eaten all his money. To ease his fears, his parents talk him through how a bank works.
They explain how machines and armored trucks keep his money safe and how he can use a banking app to check on his bank account any time. These lessons are useful for other young children who feel nervous about putting their own money under a bank’s care.
“The Missing Money” features simple language and vivid, full-page illustrations by Sandhya Prabhat. Its reading level is suitable for ages 5 to 7. Younger kids can also enjoy the story with a parent to help them read it.
Best for Financial Literacy: “Finance 101 for Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss” by Walter Andal
More than 4 in 10 young adults say they wish they’d learned more about money in school. Parents who want to help their kids build financial literacy can get them started with Walter Andal’s “Finance 101 for Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss.”
This book covers the ABCs of personal finance for kids ages 8 to 12. Its lessons include:
- The history of money
- Earning money
- The pros and cons of credit cards
- The stock market
- About different currencies and foreign exchanges
- The importance of giving back
With kid-friendly text and simple line drawings by Richard Peter David, this guide is an Amazon bestseller. The sequel, “Finance 102 for Kids,” builds on it with more practical tips for real-life situations.
Best for Entrepreneurship: “The Lemonade War” by Jacqueline Davies
“The Lemonade War” tells the story of two siblings. Fourth-grade Evan is good with people, and his younger sister Jessie is good with numbers. When the two open rival lemonade stands, each puts their own skill set to work trying to outdo the other.
Author Jacqueline Davies uses this setup to outline the basics of entrepreneurship for kids. The book covers basic ideas like planning and money management and sophisticated terms like underselling and profit margins. It includes charts, diagrams, and even math problems.
Along the way, the book slips in a few lessons about other aspects of life, like communication and sibling rivalry. It’s the first volume of five in the Lemonade War series. The reading level is appropriate for ages 8 to 12.
Best for Giving: “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts
Jeremy, the central character of “Those Shoes,” craves the black high-top sneakers his schoolmates are wearing. But his grandmother can only afford to buy him what he really needs: a pair of winter boots.
Only one kid doesn’t tease Jeremy for his “baby” shoes. Jeremy learns that his new friend is even worse off than he is and can barely afford needs, let alone wants. So when Jeremy finally finds a too-small pair of “those shoes” in a thrift shop, he gives them to his friend.
This story is packed with money and life lessons. It teaches about distinguishing wants from needs, about gratitude, and about the value of helping others. Vividly illustrated by Noah Z. Jones, the book is suitable for ages 5 to 8.
Best for Youngest Readers: “Bunny Money” by Rosemary Wells
Even 3-to-5-year-olds aren’t too young to start learning about money. In “Bunny Money,” Rosemary Wells offers up a preschool-appropriate story about the importance of saving and planning.
Bunnies Ruby and Max have saved up money to buy a birthday gift for their grandmother. But during their trip to the store, they spend all their money and can’t afford the present. They don’t even have the bus fare home and have to call Grandma for a ride.
Hidden in this simple, cartoon-illustrated story are several kid-friendly money lessons. Little ones learn about counting money, researching prices, and controlling impulse buys. There’s even an extra life lesson about asking for help when you need it.
Best for Older Kids: “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin
Older children, between the ages of 8 and 12, can enjoy and learn from more sophisticated stories. Grace Lin’s “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,” which draws on the traditions of Chinese folklore, is an example.
Minli is a girl from a poor family. Although she’s content with her hard life, her mother is not. To help her, Minli sets out on a quest to change her family’s fortunes. She braves dangers, makes new friends, discovers magic, and eventually learns the secret of true wealth.
Lin’s bestselling book is a National Book Award finalist, a Newbery Honor winner, and one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time. Some readers are troubled by a couple of references to characters’ skin color that seem to equate beauty with whiteness. However, most can forgive them for the sake of the great story.
One of the best gifts you can give your kids is a good understanding of money and how it works. Children who learn at a young age about the basics of making, spending, saving, and investing money are on the road to becoming financially responsible adults.
By reading these books with your kids and passing on the important financial concepts in them, you’re helping them take their first steps on this path. Plus, reading books with your kids gives you a chance to share some special time together as parent and child. It’s a win-win.