7 INSIGHTFUL CHILDREN'S BOOKS ON MONEY
Maybe it is because we live in New York City, where incredible wealth and poverty are to be seen on a daily basis. Or, it is the age, or for some other reason, my son was very interested in money when he turned 6 - and his current favorite podcast still is the Marketplace podcast Million Bazillion. Obviously it is a complex, but also important topic. Money permeates our lives in many ways, and understanding how it works is important. Just as important as learning certain values and that money can't buy everything.
Interestingly there are lots of picture books in English to help children understand the concept of money, the importance of saving and even board books about stock market. And according to some US experts, you should start talking about money as early as age 3, because money habits are set early. In German there are fewer kids' books publications on the topic. Possibly because the topic of money in German speaking countries is somewhat of a taboo even today. However, there are still a lot of interesting books starting at age 4 that explore the different aspects - on saving money, poverty, economy, how money works. Here are our recommendations!
Lorenz Pauli, Claudia de Weck
GELD ZU VERKAUFEN
Milan watches Alma build a tree house from wood she found. He immediately wants one, too. So he asks his mother, and she buys him some DIY -kit some a level or two up. While he gets some tools, Alma steals his planks. Obviously he objects and says, if she wants some wood, she has to pay for it. And the two set up a deal: he will help her to earn money and then he will sell her some other wood.
Eventually they build both houses together, but they lack a ladder. So they need to buy it. However, they don't have enough money.. Can they just make their own money to buy it?
This book, written by one of Switzerland's most acclaimed picture book authors, can be read as a tale of friendship and building. Or lend itself to explaining lots of concepts about money and fairness. Colorful illustrations make it even more fun.
4 years and up
UNSER GELD UND DIE WIRTSCHAFT
If your child is into nonfiction, you know the series WIESO WESHALB WARUM that offers books on almost any topic. And of course, there is one on money and economy as well. Why do grownups work? What happens with the money they earn? What are banks for? Lots of flaps make it fun to explore.
4 years and up
ICH GEHÖR DAZU!
Isabel's parents don't have much money - but they have each other. Things take a turn for the worse, when they are unable to pay the bills or their rent. They have to move into one of the towers on the other end of the city. Isabel feels lonely, and worse still invisible. But then Isabel notices others that are invisible: a homeless man feeding birds, an old lady planting flowers in old cans. And she helps them and suddenly makes a difference.
This picture book might not seem to be about money, but it is about poverty. And that we all belong and can be change makers. Tom Percival himself grew up in poverty. He has an uncanny way of making you feel the cold and loneliness with his images. A book with an important message.
4 years and up.
MEIN GELD, DEIN GELD
Another non-fiction book - told in age-appropriate language this book explains everything around money in 40 chapters: its history, banks, how saving lending, stocks and insurances work but also what it is like if you don't have money, allowances and different currencies, taxes and so much more.
It is really very well done, connecting all these difficult abstract terms to the real life of children when possible. And the illustrations are colorful, modern and appealing, too. (They also depict diverse characters, an additional plus.)
6 years and up
Hanno Beck, Juliane Schwoch
DER GROSSE PLAN
If you or your child is not so much into non-fiction, there is help: this book
explains money and economy through a fairy tale.
After a big storm, many animals are without a home and without any food and resources. But winter is coming soon, so panic sets in.. The owl has an idea: why not do what humans do? They have to help each other and each one of them does what they are best at. After some effort to trust each other the barter trade works amazingly well. But then the squirrel needs something that takes a few days to get done, and she can only pay in very ripe fruit that won't last. The owl has another great idea: promissory notes. All is well it seems. But one animal, the weasel, is not collaborating, but working against them. And soon lots of them have promissory notes and not enough food to pay for them...
A suspenseful tale that really does make complicated concepts relatable and simple. A slightly older child might be deterred by the childish cover, so if you think your kid is interested, do some convincing! It is really worth while.
9 years and up
JETZT GEHT'S UMS GELD
A more comprehensive non-fiction book for older kids, is JETZT GEHT'S UMS GELD: it tells what money is, its history, what banks do, online banking and phishing. It dives into the 2009 crash, bail-outs, quantitive easing, the pros and cons of cryptocurrency and the reasons for inequality and so much more. It explains all these complex matters age-appropriately and presents the subject in a very appealing graphical way.
9 years and up
ALLES GELD DER WELT
An unusual take is this graphic novel on money: Vitali Konstantinov has a unique style of overboarding exuberant pages - and in all this he incorporates a wealth of information and humor. This is a history of money, and thus Konstantinov delves deep into the beginnings of money on different parts of the world - and ends with cryptocurrencies today.
10 years and up