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Money, money, money, money

The up side of Tax Day? It’s a good opportunity to talk to kids about developing smart money sense. (Check out this successful young entrepreneur!) These engaging nonfiction books on the history of money and money management, recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide, should help.

Picture Books

adler_money madnessWhy does everybody want money? And what did people do before it existed? Money Madness, David A. Adler’s picture-book look at money, is direct, concise, and surprisingly humorous. After discussing bartering and early forms of money, Adler compares the value of different currencies and touches on deflation/inflation. Throughout Edward Miller’s crisp computer-generated illustrations, Uncle Sam and others expand on the informative text. (Holiday, 2009)

jenkins_lemonade in winterIn Emily Jenkins‘s engaging story and math lesson Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money, two siblings try to capture the summer magic of a lemonade stand on a frigid, snowy day. Pauline and John-John search for quarters, shop for groceries, and entice customers. G. Brian Karas’s pencil-and-ink drawings reflect the feeling and color of winter; the brightness of the limeade and lemonade contrast with the otherwise muted surroundings. (Schwartz & Wade, 2012)

reid_lots and lots of coinsA boy talks about his father’s coin collection and what he and Dad have learned in pursuit of this hobby in Margarette S. Reid’s Lots and Lots of Coins. Friendly text discusses money’s history, the U.S. mint, what coins are made of, the value of collected coins, some U.S. history, and games to play with spare change. The lively pages combine text, True Kelley’s cartoonlike illustrations, and diagrams. (Dutton, 2011)




bernstein_betterlemonade_200x300In 1992, when Daryl Bernstein was fifteen, he wrote the first edition of Better than a Lemonade Stand!: Small Business Ideas for Kids based on his own experience as a young entrepreneur. Twenty years later, he updated the package to incorporate contemporary technology and cautions. Fifty-five business ideas are presented with suggestions and tips on supplies, pricing, advertising, and more. One-page profiles introduce actual “kid entrepreneurs” and their ventures. This edition illustrated by Rob Husberg. (Simon/Aladdin, 2012)

furgang_everything moneyBrimming with information and packed with photos, Kathy Furgang’s almanac-style book Everything Money: A Wealth of Facts, Photos, and Fun! provides many facts about money. From the processes of earning, saving, raising, and spending money to paper-money origami and money scams, this book covers it all. Sidebars by archaeologist Fred Hiebert discuss currency uncovered by archaeological digs and what it could say about a culture. (National Geographic, 2013)

jenkins_history of moneyIn The History of Money: From Bartering to Banking, sixteen brief chapters present an overview of money — the whys and hows of its development, different items that have been employed as currency — from ancient times to today. Although the ideas are challenging, each follows naturally from the one before. Author Martin Jenkins succeeds in presenting challenging ideas; Satoshi Kitamura’s tidy watercolors (spot art and panel illustrations) add humor and help illustrate the concepts. (Candlewick, 2014)



roderick_centsibilityStacey Roderick and Ellen Warwick’s Centsibility [Planet Girl series] presents handy methods for managing money: “how to make it, save it, spend it and share it.” Chapters are broken down into subsections (“Mizz Bizz,” “Bank on it”), which are peppered with quizzes and craft projects to keep readers engaged. Hipster illustrations by Monika Melnychuk and references may become dated, but the book’s sound advice is both practical and approachable. (Kids Can, 2008)


Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.



  1. I was excited to pull the Adler/Miller book off my library shelf but was disappointed to see the stereotypical depiction of Native Americans (in particular, the use of the past tense and the contrast between them and white male “home owners”). Did anyone else see this? I’m just hoping we can get past the “generic” feather/bright headband/bow and arrow depictions that seems to me to be a standard go-to for illustrators.

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