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Buy Your Kids a Money Book for Christmas

If have any school-age children on your Christmas list, why not buy them a fun book (or DVD) that also teaches some great lessons about money?  Here are some recommendations, especially for younger kids — some of which my family has firsthand experience with, and others that were recommended by other family members, friends, and readers of this blog. After each title, the suggested reader age range is in parentheses.

Bunny Money (3-5). When brother and sister go shopping for a present for their grandma, much goes wrong, but some good lessons are learned along the way.

Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday (4-8). Poor Alexander. He had good intentions for the dollar his grandparents gave him. But with all the tempting things to spend it on, it was gone before he knew it. Teaches some great lessons about the importance, and the difficulty, of practicing delayed gratification.

The Gift of Nothing (5-8). What gift do you buy for the friend who has everything? It’s a gift that money can’t buy.

Ramona and her Father (8-12). When a second-grader’s father loses his job, she tries to help ease the family’s financial strain.

Double Fudge (8-12). The wonder and innocence of a young boy being introduced to the world of money.

The Seventeenth Swap (8-12). A boy “swaps up” 17 times to get his disabled friend the boots he can’t afford.

The Toothpaste Millionaire (10-12). A boy discovers that toothpaste costs a lot less to make than it usually sells for, comes up with a business plan, makes his own low-cost toothpaste, and strikes gold.

There are many Berenstain Bears books, a number of which deal with money and material things. While I have my issues with how Papa Bear is depicted throughout the series (he’s always coming up with bad ideas), the following books teach some important money lessons:

The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need (3-7). Some good lessons about the excesses in our lives and becoming aware of those who don’t have very much.

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money (3-7). The little Bears learn how to strike the balance between hanging onto money too tightly and spending it too freely.

The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings (3-7). A scary storm provides lessons about gratitude.

The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense (3-7). Brother and Sister Bear learn how to manage an allowance.

The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Commercials (4-8). The Bear kids learn that the commercials they see on TV may not always tell it like it is.

The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Things (4-8). Brother and Sister Bear learn that the best things in life can’t be bought at a store.

The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble With Chores (4-8). When the Bear kids stop doing their chores, Mama Bear decides to stop doing hers as well.

The Berenstain Bears: Jobs Around Town (4-8). The Bear kids begin seeing how their God-given gifts could lead to a great vocation.

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving (4-8). Especially appropriate at Christmastime, since Brother and Sister Bear learn to set their sights beyond what they might receive.

Even More Books

Several other financial writers have compiled lists of good money books for kids. You can see recommendations from US News & World Report here and here.

Financial author and blogger Mary Hunt offers her suggestions here.

DVDs

Several Veggie Tales videos teach some great financial lessons. Some of the following titles can be rented or purchased and then downloaded from Netflix or Amazon. Or you can purchase the DVDs from Veggie Tales. They’re all geared toward kids ages 4-8.

Madame Blueberry, a Lesson in Thankfulness.

Lord of the Beans, a Lesson in Using Your Gifts.

Veggies in Space, A Lesson in the Power of Sharing.

King George and the Ducky, a Lesson in Selfishness.

Lyle the Kindly Viking, a Lesson in Sharing.

Abe and the Amazing Promise, a Lesson in Patience.

Veggie Tales: It’s a Meaningful Life, a Lesson in Being Content.

Bonus Idea

One of my all-time favorite ways of teaching kids about money, and especially the importance of generosity, is to sponsor a needy child through Compassion International or World Vision. Your kids will get to correspond with your sponsored child, which opens up opportunities to learn about very different ways of life, geography, and more. One of the best benefits is how tangible your family’s generosity will become in the eyes of your children. That’s certainly been true in our family.

One morning, while having breakfast with our oldest child, who was about four at the time, I gave him a pop quiz about money (Oh, the joys of having a dad who teaches about money for a living!). I had been talking with him about the various things you can do with money, such as giving, saving, and spending. The night before, we had talked about our sponsored child, Aziz, who lives in Burkina Faso. One year, we sent Aziz some extra money for his birthday and he wrote back with a picture of what he bought: extra soap and rice for his family.

So, back to my quiz. With our little guy was still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, I asked him to name three things you can do with money. He yawned, stretched his arms, and said, “Ah, you can spend it, save it, or give it to Aziz.” I loved that.

What are some of your favorite money books for young kids? Let me know in the comments section below.

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