Kids & Money

Reading + money education + math = beating the summer slide

It’s an age-old problem for parents: how to prevent their kids from hitting the summer slide.

Over the past few years, new research has provided a growing body of understanding of how reading books during the summer can prevent the loss of reading proficiency and boost confidence.

Worried about math too?

Here’s how to address the summer slide in both reading and math: Check out books that teach kids about money and economic concepts in the context of fun. As a bonus, many of these books provide number-crunching lessons as part of the journey.

Here’s a sample, culled from about a dozen financial education experts around the country who responded to my request for their favorite reads:

Books for younger kids

▪ “The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies” by Stan and Jan Berenstain, in which both brother and sister develop a bad case of the “greedy gimmies.” Other books in this popular, long-running series teach money lessons too, including “Trouble With Chores” and “Trouble With Money.”

▪ “Sammy’s Big Dream” by Sam Renick. It teaches young grade schoolers to dream big and save money while improving reading skills.

▪ “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by H.A. Rey, in which the famous monkey decides to save for a toy train and doesn’t realize how long it will take or how hard he’ll have to work for his money.

▪ “The Money Savvy Kids Club” by Susan Beacham and Lynnette Khalfani, in which a group of friends forms a club that solves money mysteries.

▪ “Amelia Bedelia Means Business” by Herman Parish. Young Amelia will do almost anything for a shiny new bicycle. This teaches lessons about earning and saving money.

▪ “Beatrice’s Goat” by Page McBrier. A true story of how a poor African girl was able to attend school after receiving a goat as a gift and selling its milk to get the money to buy her books.

Books for older kids

▪ “Not Your Parents’ Money Book: Making, Saving and Spending Your Own Money” by Jean Chatzky. The personal finance columnist’s book is for 12- to 14-year-olds and offers advice on practical money skills. There is a section on smart shopping and credit cards.

▪ “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. In this classic, young readers learn about the principles of animalism.

▪ “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. This is not a typical personal finance book, though it does cover basics such as saving, investing and budgeting. One of the messages that could resonate with older kids: Live on less.

▪ “Nest Egg: How to Build Yours … Then Turn It Into Something Extraordinary” by Jeff Goble. This book offers financial wisdom that college-age students would appreciate. One piece of advice: Avoid depreciating assets, such as new cars, as much as you can.

▪ “Finance Is Personal: Making Your Money Work for You in College and Beyond” by Kim Stephenson and Ann Hutchins. In the words of Stephenson: “We wrote the book so the reader can take into account their own personality, their own money story, and have a method that works for them, not a one-size doesn’t fit anybody’s generic solution.”

▪ “You Only Live Once” by Jason Vitug, which is about making a plan, setting a goal, then charting how to get there. “This should be a mandatory read for graduating high schoolers or college freshmen. … It’s both inspirational and provides practical steps to achieve financial independence,” said financial educator Leslie Girone.

If none of these books captures your kids’ interests, there are always board games, websites and, yes, even comic books. Try “Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket’s Power Plan,” a Marvel financial educational comic released in May in cooperation with Visa.

Steve Rosen: 816-234-4879

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