A Mighty Girl's top picks of books and toys for teaching kids about money management.
Financial literacy is an essential skill for every child to learn! Money is an integral part of modern life, and whether your child is a preschooler counting coins, an elementary school child saving for a new toy, a tween learning about investing, or a teen budgeting for school expenses or their first full-time job, there are plenty of opportunities to teach kids how to earn, save, spend, donate, and invest. And yet a recent study from the Girl Scouts found that only 12% of girls aged 8 to 17 feel very confident making financial decisions, proof that we need to do more to improve kids' financial literacy.
In this blog post, we've showcased our favorite resources to help kids (and maybe parents too!) learn more about money and how to manage it. From play money that helps young kids learning to identify coins and bills, to books that introduce concepts like debt, entrepreneurship, and investing to older kids, and even a few titles to guide parents in money conversations, these resources will help you give your Mighty Girl the confidence to manage her money successfully — and use it to plan for her future.
On the Money: Fiction about spending and saving
Rosa's family's home was destroyed by a fire, and while neighbors are able to provide much of what they need, the one thing that's missing is a big, soft chair to relax in after a long day. So every day, Rosa, Grandma, and Mama save everything they can in a big jar: Mama contributes her tips from her job as a waitress, Grandma tosses in change when she saves money at the market, and even Rosa puts her few pennies in. Finally, when the jar is full, the family picks a rose-covered chair, just as comfortable as they've been dreaming the whole time. This beloved book celebrates both the value of work and the rewards that come from careful money management.
Sister and Brother Bear don't seem to be able to hold onto money for a second — as soon as they get it, they spend it! So Mama and Papa decide to start teaching them the value of money by getting them to earn some themselves. The cubs catch onto the idea quickly, walking pets, picking blackberries, and selling lemonade. When they go a little bit overboard, though, and start going to excessive lengths for a few extra pennies, it's time to teach the kids that what makes really important is what you can do with it... like arranging a surprise for someone special. For another book from the same series addressing money management, check out The Berenstain Bears' Dollars and Sense.
Pauline and her little brother look out the window on a snowy day and get inspired... to set up a lemonade stand! They pool their money for start-up capital, buy some supplies, and mix up some refreshing lemonade and limeade, then start trying to attract customers on their rather empty street. Despite their best efforts, from advertising to entertainment to dramatic sales, they don't make back the cost they invested — but they do make enough for a couple of Popsicles to share. This book is unique in its discussion of the possible failure of a business, providing a great opportunity to talk about forethought and planning when starting a new endeavor. This fun and quirky story also provides a great lesson in resiliency and an encouraging example of two resilient kids who don't let plans gone awry keep them down.
Penny is selling pink lemonade on this beautiful summer's day, preparing to put each coin into her big glass jar bank. Her first cup sells for 1 cent, and she doesn't want to sell herself short, so she raises the price to 2 cents, then 5. Some customers are willing to pay even more! At the end of the day, when she counts all her coins, Penny is thrilled to discover that she's made 100 cents — a whole dollar. This level 2 Step Into Reading book includes pages at the end that show pictures of coins with their denominations, and shows how they add up: five pennies to a nickel, two nickels to a dime, etc. Newly emerging readers will love the rhyming text, as well as Penny's entrepreneurial spirit.
Birdie desperately wants the XR1000 Super Extreme Soccer Ball, but the narrator has a pointed question: "Soccer balls cost money. How much ya got?" Birdie's first thought is a yard sale, but she finds there's not much of a market. When the irrepressible girl realizes that everyone is working on their yards, she digs up her own back yard and (once she works out a few pricing issues) sells "dirt cheap cheap dirt" to everyone in the neighborhood. Of course, a soccer ball isn't much good without a yard — so she may have to turn her business acumen to fixing the lawn, too! This tongue-in-cheek story starring an industrious main character explores multiple financial concepts, from adding up change to supply and demand, in a way that's sure to inspire a few young entrepreneurs.
In a shop window, a girl spots the bike of her dreams, but it costs far more than she has saved. Her quest to find ways to earn money leads to a friendly neighbor, who offers her work in the garden. Together, the woman and the girl work side by side until she finally has saved enough — but when she returns to the shop, the bike is gone. Fortunately, after she uses her savings to do a good deed for her brother, the girl discovers that she’s not the only generous person on her street! This sweet wordless story is a celebration of hard work, cross-generational friendships, and the joy that comes from generosity.
When Miss Fox's class sets their sights on a trip to Roller Coaster Planet, she helps them carefully budget what they need... but their fundraising doesn't go smoothly! With every addition to their savings jar through fundraising, they end up with an unexpected cost (all related to the accidental havoc that their fundraising ideas wreak on a visiting author.) Kids will laugh at the slapstick and practice their math as they watch the class' savings rise and fall, and the comically unrealistic resolution provides fodder for kids to discuss what they would have done to raise funds instead.
Princess Persephone of Ganymede has big plans for the summer, and they include having all of her friends join her on a special vacation! Except when she talks to her friends, they all say they can't afford tickets. When Persephone learns that Ganymede's Money Wizards can print more bills, she decrees an immediate issue despite their warning that prices could soar, and her subjects rejoice as they find they have twice as many bills in their wallets as before. Except with all her subjects on a spending spree, the tickets her friends need are hard to come by, and prices are rising by the day... This rollicking entry in the Money Tales series — written by Sheila Blair, former Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — introduces the basics of what causes inflation in a way that will make kids eager to learn more about how money and finance works.
Naima's family is struggling for money, and can't even afford her school fees any more, even though she's won the prize for painting alpanas, traditional patterns used to decorate homes for special occasions. She desperately wants to add to the family's income; if she were a boy, she could take her father's rickshaw — so Naima decides to disguise herself and give it a try. Unfortunately, she crashes the rickshaw, leaving the family in a worse spot than before. In the end, it turns out that her painting ability will be the key to supporting her family — and will even teach her that she could have a future as a business owner. This early chapter book reminds young readers to draw on their strengths, and also provides some quick lessons on what it's like to start and operate a business.
Peter Gronkowski has his sights set on being a professional businessman, so he starts a new business with the help of an unpaid "intern," aspiring writer Rachel Chambers. But while Rachel may seem quiet, she's also resourceful and driven — and when Peter's overbearing behavior proves too much, she starts her own competing empire! As they each jockey to win their rivalry with slander, espionage, and sabotage, they finally realize that money and success aren't as important as their friendship. Smart and funny, with alternating chapters telling both kids' perspectives, readers will love watching Rachel and Peter find a partnership that proves that two determined heads are better than one.
When sixth grader Resa learns that the winner of the class lemonade stand competition gets a special privilege for the field trip to an amusement park, she's determined to be on top! But she's got to work with teammates, and that's where the problems start. Resa figures she can rely on Didi, her best friend, but Didi doesn't know anything about making lemonade or starting a business — and Resa quickly writes off Harriet, the class clown, and unreliable, and Amelia, the new girl, as stuck up. But when Resa starts pushing the other girls around, all three of them push back. It'll take working together to turn their lemonade stand into a recipe for success! This series opener is perfect for would-be business owners, and even includes tips from the Startup Squad and a profile of a girl entrepreneur!
When sixth grade vegetarian Hallie tries a fried cricket on the zoo field trip, she sees huge possibilities, from addressing world hunger to reducing ecological damage caused by farming meat. When she gets paired with Jaye for a business class pitch competition, Jaye is horrified: who would want to eat insects! But as the pair work together, they form an unexpected bond... and they begin to imagine themselves as partners selling bugs as food. Inspired by the real life story of sustainable protein company Chirps — whose founders Rose Wang and Laura D'Asaro pitched their chips made with cricket flour on the TV show Shark Tank — this illustrated novel introduces kids to enterpreneurship and how it can help you pursue the causes you're passionate about.
Ella and her friends have formed a band, and what they really need is the powerful sound of an electric guitar. Ella can play, but she only has an acoustic guitar — and her Dad won't replace it, pointing out that it works fine and "money doesn't grow on trees." So Ella sets her sights on saving the $229 she'll need to buy one herself. Savings accounts and stock market investments will obviously be too slow, so it's time to give starting her own business a try. But when she takes a loss on her first day of sales, she starts to question whether she'll ever grow her savings enough to get the guitar of her dreams. Written by Orly Sade, a professor of finance, and Ellen Neuborne, a former editor for BusinessWeek Magazine, this book introduces tweens to the realities of planning, earning, and saving for bigger goals.
Dollars and Sense: Guides to Teach Financial Skills
Kids can learn everything from how coins are made to how to invest in the stock market with this handy book! Individual chapters talk about everything from the history of money and banking to assessing needs versus wants to sharing your funds with a well-chosen charity. Fun, accessible sidebars give additional facts, while puzzles and word games scattered throughout reinforce the concepts you're learning. A glossary at the end defines terms financial terms, from allowance to withholding, that kids will use both now and in the future.
Kids looking for inspiration for a business they can start on their own will love this guide! Daryl Bernstein originally wrote this book as a 15-year-old, and he's since updated it with his experience in the adult world. Bernstein lists 55 different small business ideas, from balloon-bouquet maker to leaf raker to silver polisher, that tweens can take on to make some extra funds. Each business description includes a list of what supplies you would need, how much time the business might take, what to charge, and how to advertise. Plus, general tips help kids determine if they're ready to add the responsibility of a business to their schedule and provide recommendations to make sure you and your business are protected with agreement, contracts, and proper legal operations.
Sooner or later, kids outgrow their piggy banks — which means they're ready to learn about investing! In this helpful guide, kids follow the Dollar Duo, Mr. Finance and Investing Woman, as they learn how to earn money, start a savings plan, and discover how stocks and bonds work. Kids will explore how risk and reward work in investing, what it means to divest their portfolios, and how savvy investing can help make money grow. With up-to-date information about modern investing techniques like impact investing and digital trading, this is the perfect get-started guide for kids ready for the next money steps.
Money is powerful — but do you know how to manage it well? Learning money skills early — everything from saving skills to savvy shopping to how to value your work time — will benefit a girl for her entire life. A Smart Girl's Guide: Money teaches tweens key money and spending skills, including tips for how to negotiate pay in her first jobs. Full of quizzes, tips, and helpful quotes from real-life girls, this guide will help her feel more confident in her money decisions. This book from the American Girl Library provides a great guide for tweens who are starting to get into more complex money decisions.
With a little work and dedication, any kid can take the money they earn and make it grow. As the authors of this book point out, having a large nest egg (whether you reach that $1,000,000 mark or not) gives you freedom, a sturdy safety net, and the chance to help others. Various chapters emphasize a true millionaire mindset — one that keeps eyes on the prize rather than being swayed by the fads and impulse purchases that tempt you — and teach how to earn money, make that money grow, and then make the best use of the money you've saved. Iinformative and engaging, this book will give your Mighty Girl big financial dreams — and the tools she needs to achieve them.
Even small amounts of money invested early can grow to astonishing totals if you have the time to wait! In this guide, the creators of The Motley Fool provide an introduction to investing for teen audiences, demonstrating how being more conservative about spending now can have big payoffs in the future. Individual sections tackle finding great companies to invest in, avoiding financial blunders, and understanding how to prioritize your savings, making sure that you have some fun now but are also prepared for bigger goals later, like college and retirement. Their optimistic tone and helpful suggestions encourage teens to set big goals for their financial futures — and give teens the tools they need to achieve them.
Teens can turn their ideas into business that stand the test of time! In this book, author and entrepreneur Steve Mariotti teaches teens why being a business owner can be so satisfying — and how to make sure you create a business that works. From the nuts and bolts of creating a legal structure for your business and writing a business plan, to sales strategies and marketing, and even tips on how to grow you business through hiring, expansion, and IPOs, this book covers everything from a part-time business for a little extra spending money to a company that becomes your career. Along the way, stories of real entrepreneurs provide plenty of inspiration and the reassurance that you can do it too!
Managing money is a critical element of having the life you want to live, but too many people (adults included!) aren't confident with finances. In this visual guidebook, the team at HerMoney — including bestselling author Jean Chatzky and her colleague Kathryn Tuggle — introduce teens to critical concepts and common pitfalls on the way to financial independence. They talk about budgeting, goal setting, different ways of earning money, navigating the student loan system, and how to establish both a credit history and an investment portfolio. Accessible, entertaining, and empowering, this guide is the perfect way to understand the nuances of money, debt, and investing so you'll feel ready to take charge.
Play Money: Toys and Games for Teaching Money Skills
In order for kids to play with money, they need some bills and coins! This set of play money from Melissa and Doug comes in a wooden cash drawer for easy sorting and organization. Fifty of each denomination of both coins and bills means there’s more than enough here for multiple kids to play, or for stocking the cash drawer of a play store. Kids can practice totaling funds, making change, and more.
When you buy things at a store, the cashier uses a cash register — so why not pick up a play cash register that works as a real calculator? This solar-powered cash register’s buttons really work and allow kids to work with decimals as well as whole dollars so that it feels like a real-life cash register. Thirty play bills and forty plastic coins come with it for paying and making change, and it includes a plastic credit card that beeps when you slide it.
Practice spending, saving, and counting money with the Pretend-To-Spend Wallet set from Melissa & Doug! This set includes over 40 pieces, including a folding nylon wallet with a pocket for 14 play money bills, a see-through pouch for the 19 play coins, and slots for the write-on cards, which include bank cards, a drivers license, a library card, and more. Don't forget your coupons so you get the best deal! It's a fun way to incorporate money and spending into pretend play.
Learn about dollars and cents with this 150-piece set of play money from Learning Resources! Made from heavy-duty paper and printed on both sides, each pretend bill is ready for countless pretend cash transactions. The plastic coins are life-sized and have imprints that look like real currency, too. You can use this realistic play money to teach lessons in making change, identifying value, and adding and subtracting — or enjoy running a pretend store. It's a fun way to teach money sense in a playful way.
This compact divided bank helps kids learn about the three key categories of money: spending, saving, and donating. Three tin moneyboxes, each a different color, nest together to easily sort your child's money. Since the compartments are easy to open and close, kids can deposit, withdraw, and count their funds easily. An included passbook lets kids track transactions, making it clear how the money they have available goes up and down as they choose to make purchases, and a family guide provides suggestions for having money conversations with kids.
This colorful trio bank provides three compartments for saving, spending, and sharing. Each compartment features a thoughtful quote about that money activity — so, for example, the “Share” box reads, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Individual ledgers for each box allow kids to track their deposits and withdrawals and watch their cash flow. Add in the included Kid’s Guide that explains basic money concepts, and there’s enough here to give her a great financial start.
These colorful flash cards help kids build quick recognition of coin denominations, as well as total values of groups of coins. Each full-color card provides an image on one side and the answer on the other — so two dimes, two nickels, and three pennies? Thirty-three cents. The coin cards are paired with time flash cards featuring an analog clock on one side and the digital equivalent on the other. Plus, a special card included in the deck features activity ideas to turn learning coins and clocks into a fun game, either one-on-one or in a classroom setting.
Master early money skills with this comprehensive activity set from Learning Resources! This set comes with realistic, life-sized bills and coins to help your child learn how to add, subtract, and make change. You'll also get double-sided price tags you can use to set up a "store" so kids can practice shopping. Money puzzle pieces help kids learn to match a price with the correct number of bills and coins, too! With 102 pieces and plenty of activity ideas to help kids explore money concepts — beginning with basic coin and bill identification and moving on to more advanced material — this is the perfect set to build the foundations for a money-savvy kid!
It's all about currency conversion in this board game! As kids land on squares that allow them to collect money, they'll have to follow the directions on the spinner — sometimes you can take your money in any combination of coins, but sometimes you'll have to avoid nickels, dimes, or quarters, giving kids plenty of chances to use their addition, subtraction, and multiplication skills and to remember the values of the coins. When you land on a Bank Exchange space, you get the chance to change up your currency to consolidate your funds. It's a great way for kids to practice their money changing skills.
Leading the Way: Parenting Money-Smart Kids
Parents often assume that kids have to be older before they're ready for "the money talk," but research shows that kids can start learning basic money concepts as young as preschool ages — and that basic money habits can be formed as young as seven. This book provides a guide to creating an on-going, age-appropriate money conversation that grows with your child, teaching delaying gratification, working hard, living within your means, and giving generously to others. Fun and accessible, this encouraging book will help you pass on solid financial principles even if you've struggled with your own financial situation from time to time.
This book gives you a developmental map for teaching kids to be financially fit, from ages 5 to 18. Author Joline Godfrey, an expert in kids, parents, and money, provides a list of ten key money skills that kids need to know before they reach adulthood, including saving for goals (or a rainy day), negotiating what you're worth, following entrepreneurial spirit, and even using money to change the world. Her core message is that money is a tool that allows you to be independent, not something to be accumulated for its own sake, and that kids must learn to live within their means and share their wealth with those less fortunate. Encouraging and easy to follow, this developmental map will help you ensure your child enters adulthood ready to be financially independent.
The cost of attending college is staggering: more than $100,000 for on-campus living at a flagship state university in many places in the US, and three times that for a selective private college. So how can families help their teens make a choice that is the right fit — and support them while they pursue their education? In this book by Ron Lieber, author of the New York Times "Your Money" column and the bestselling book The Opposite of Spoiled, you'll get a deep dive into the process of choosing a college so that you get the most value for your money, and how to navigate the staggeringly complicated financial aid process. Frank, emotionally honest, and full of critical information, this is a must-have book for parents helping to guide teens on one of their first big financial decisions.
In this best-selling book, financial expert Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze talk about how parents can teach kids to avoid financial pitfalls — even ones they themselves have made. Ramsey is upfront about his own mistakes, drawing on too much debt and living a lifestyle that couldn't be sustained on his income alone, while Cruze provides the perspective of a child who didn't make those mistakes because her parents provided her with good guidance. Together, they address how to foster a positive attitude towards work and saving; teaching budgeting in age-appropriate ways; and how to instill a sense of appreciation and gratitude, even in kids who grew up with everything.
Financial expert Mary Hunt knows the consequences of poor money management, and now she teaches parents around the world how to raise kids to be savvy, responsible, and confident about their money. A major focus of her book is talking about the pitfalls of marketing and debt, especially in a world where everyone seems to pull out a credit card at the drop of a hat. Individual chapters talk about money matters for different age groups, including preschool, ages six to nine, and ages ten and up. It's a straight-forward and common sense guide to teaching kids confidence with money, even if you're not always confident yourself.
Money conversations can also provide a great opportunity to communicate family values about money and giving. This insightful parenting book shows how families of all income levels can talk with kids about money issues, not only to teach them about financial responsibility, but also to show them how the family's choices allow them to give to their community. Author Ron Lieber explores topics ranging from the Tooth Fairy to birthday parties to college tuition, encouraging parents to foster less materialism and more generosity; his examination of the attitudes we communicate to kids about money will help parents teach that money is a tool, not a goal, and that the reward comes from how you use it.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For a selection of books about careers, entrepreneurship, and money management, visit our Jobs & Money Collection.
- For more toys that teach financial skills, visit our Money Management Toy Collection.
- For more books about raising financially capable kids, visit our Financial Management Parenting Collection.