School is out and summer is here. Whether your teens are working to build up their savings, or running around at a summer camp, it’s never a bad idea to encourage them to keep reading. I’ve listed some summer reading books that offer wonderful money lessons – plus, sometimes kids listen to a book better than a parent. Not only will these books spare your kids some bucks in the future, but you can also get these books at your local public library and avoid pricey book stores. Keep talking to your kids about what they read- the more you talk about it, the more it’ll stick. Happy reading!

Middle School

First Things First, by Kristi D. Holl (Atheneum, 1986), demonstrates the power of earning money. When Shelly’s mom and dad cannot pay for summer camp, Shelly spends her summer earning money. More earning money education can be found in Project Wheels, by Jacqueline Turner Banks (Houghton, Mifflin, 1993). A group of friends get together to raise money for a classmate in need of a wheelchair.

If you think you have a budding entrepreneur at home, try reading Kid Power, by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Scholastic, 1988), and The Toothpaste Millionaire, by Jean Merrill and Jon Palmer (HMCo Children’s Books, 1972), to your kids. Both show how kids start a business and deal with some of the resulting challenges of its success. Bet you didn’t know that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote about money and the problems it can sometimes cause. In The Tale of King Midas and the Golden Touch (Limited Editions Club, 1952), Hawthorne retells the famous Greek legend of greedy King Midas and how he feels when his wish is granted and everything he touches turn to gold.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway (Kids Can Press, 2008) introduces the concept of a microloan, a lending system for people in developing countries who have no collateral and no access to conventional banking. What makes this story even more fun is that it is inspired by the life of Kwabena Darko who, as a boy, started a tiny poultry farm that later grew to be the largest in east Africa.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen (Wendy Lamb Books, 2007) celebrates entrepreneurship. The boy’s grandmother gives him an old riding lawn mower as a gift for his 12th birthday. He soon finds himself in business and learning how to “barter” his way to even more success.

High School and College

Starting out on your own can mean dealing with unfamiliar, even intimidating situations, especially when it comes to finances. Welcome to Your Financial Life by Virginia B. Morris and Kenneth M. Morris (Lightbulb Press, Inc., 2007) helps young adults identify the keys to smart financial decision making and avoid some common financial pitfalls.

The Little Book That Beats the Market, by Joel Greenblatt (John Wiley and Sons, 2006), is a great place for beginners to understand the stock market. Its explanations are easy to understand, grounded in real world examples, humorously presented, and stay with you even if you don’t invest the way the book recommends.

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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