Money Matters Book Reviews

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Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children, September 2010

On the Money Matters: A Kidís Guide to Money series

Just about every state has content standards beginning in kindergarten covering important concepts in economics. These content requirements, together with the media attention paid to the importance of financial literacy, have led to a greater need for books that will help children to become more informed about the economic world around them. The new book series Money Matters: A Kidís Guide to Money helps to fill a niche in this literature.

On Budgeting Tips for Kids

One of the books in the series, Budgeting Tips for Kids, introduces young learners to the notion of budget constraints and how people are limited in what they can consume by the income that they have. The author presents suggestions about how children can generate their own income stream and about how they can put together a budget for the items that they wish to purchase. These applications are broadened to typical household scenarios as well an example of a school making a personnel decision. This book will help children gain a better understanding of the economic hardships that people have experienced as a result of job losses and budget cuts.

On A Kidís Guide to Stock Market Investing

One of the books in the series, A Kidís Guide to Stock Market Investing, provides an extensive overview of the operation, history, and organization of stock markets, with a focus on the major exchanges in the United States. The author takes what could amount to an overwhelming topic and formulates it into more manageable terms for younger people to comprehend. That said, the large number of definitions, detailed historical narrative, and relatively complex concepts make the book more appropriate for middle grade readers and older children. Livening up the book are well-known company logos and examples of companies that try to make it fun to hold stock by sending gift boxes to shareholders at the end of the year.

On A Kidís Guide to the Economy

One of the books in the series, A Kidís Guide to the Economy, offers students a crash course in some of the most important concepts of micro and macroeconomics. Examples include the production of goods and services in a national economy, the role of competition in setting market prices, how waves of economic expansion and recession follow each other in the business cycle, and how downturns result in hardships for families such as unemployment and foreclosure. Some of these topics are not covered in school mandates until the high school grades and others in the middle grades, so the bookís target audience definitely reaches beyond younger learners. They will gain a broad overview of the functioning of the marketplace and will be prepared for a more intensive treatment in subsequent economics lessons.

On Savings Tips for Kids

One of the books in the series, Savings Tips for Kids, discusses some of the tradeoffs between spending money today versus saving it for the future. Along with presenting motivations behind the savings decision, the author also provides a clear description of the role of banks in holding peopleís deposits, paying them interest in return, and using the funds to make loans at higher rates so as to make a profit. Other financial concepts are also introduced, including such alternative vehicles for saving as Certificates of Deposit (CDís) and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAís), as well as some of the concepts associated with getting credit through a loan or a credit card.

While the bookís opening and closing stories and the illustrations are aimed toward young readers, the financial concepts are advanced and more appropriate for middle grade and even young adult readers who can comprehend things like compound interest, finance charges, and collateral. For such readers, Savings Tips for Kids can begin to simplify the complicated world of finance and help them to make more educated decisions about how to save their money.

School Library Journal, February 2010

On A Kidís Guide to the Economy

As part of a larger series about money, this entry aims to explain in a simple, concrete manner how the economy works and how it affects everyoneís daily life. The law of supply and demand is described in some depth with child-friendly, specific examples to clarify the concepts. The cycles of an economy, from expansion through prosperity, recession, and into recovery, are also covered, with historical and current events used to make these abstract ideas more accessible. Opening and closing chapters use a fictional classroom setting to introduce and wrap up the topic, as students and a teacher discuss these ideas and phrases that are showing up more and more in family conversation as well as in the media. While the focus is on the American economy, there are brief descriptions of other types. The writing is fairly lively, filled with questions and real-world examples thrown in to keep kids interested. Overall, this is a fine choice for introducing the concept of economy and how it functions in society.

School Library Journal, November 2008

On the Money Matters: A Kidís Guide to Money Series

Striving to provide practical suggestions on managing money, each book begins and ends with a fictional account in which students embark on a relevant unit. Between that unfortunate framing are practical, well-written descriptions. Orr keeps in mind childrenís interests and limitations, stressing, for example, parental involvement where important, such as in setting up bank accounts and getting jobs. Earning Moneyem> and Coins should generate the most demand. The former is realistic about the trade-offs involved in a child working and offers alternatives to true jobs (raking leaves, running errands), while the second includes a concise history of money in its introduction to collecting coins and currency. For readers with long-term interests, the rest of the series will be useful. Savings explores banking and clearly explains compound interest; Stock Market describes in basic terms how the markets work and suggests activities to learn more before investing; and Budgeting demonstrates how planning can lead to significant financial gains. Stock photos feature multigenerational and diverse subjects and illustrate related locations and historical figures, while graphs and sidebars enhance the texts. Well-documented and informative introductions.

Booklist, October 2008

On A Kid's Guide to Earning Money

For grade-schoolers who want to start earning some cash, this chatty, interactive guide offers practical suggestions for finding jobs, from babysitting and dog walking to delivering newspapers. Part of the Money Matters: A Kid's Guide to Money series, the book begins with a fictionalized fifth-grade class making plans to earn money for a museum trip. Beyond that scenario, readers will appreciate the practical suggestions about working, including making a chart of available free time and weighing benefits beyond simply making money (such as meeting new people and trying out future job possibilities). Also included is useful advice on setting price points, how to cut costs, and what the labor laws allow for kids under 18, as well as a frank view of the negatives associated with the working world. Throughout, cheerful words and color photos show comfortable families interacting together, and stress is laid on the importance of getting parental permission before setting out on the trail to riches.