Personal finance touches every aspect of our lives. Earning money, saving for school, paying off a mortgage, even buying a coffee requires some basic financial literacy skills. To help develop these skills, kids and teens need to be exposed to the concept of financial education and the basics of personal finance.
Remember, healthy money management skills don’t happen overnight, or by accident. To help children grow into young adults with a strong foundation in personal finance basics, it’s best to start teaching them early. What better way to learn than to tell a story through books.
To help we collected expert opinions from finance professionals who have first-hand knowledge on the best books to teach financial literacy to kids.
Best Financial Education Books for Kids Aged 3 to 7
#1. Bunny Money
An excellent book for children ages three to five, Bunny Money is a perfect example of easy-to-grasp and fun-to-learn financial education at an early age. Sarah Li Cain, a finance writer and host of Beyond The Dollar, says her son loves the story’s suspense.
Together, Li Cain and her son did the math to see how much Ruby had leftover. Bunny Money is a cheerful story that teaches the importance of money and the importance of family – making it one of the best money books for kids.
A great way to introduce money to children is by using playful characters such as Curious George to tell their story. Stephanie Kibler, founder of Poorer Than You, says this story covers it all. From the idea of coins (and their values), saving your money rather than spending it, using money to buy gifts for others, doing work to earn money, and taking care to keep your money safe.
“It’s a sweet story that my son asked for again and again as early as two-and-a-half but still loves years later,” says Kibler. “It also comes with a punch-out coin bank in the back, but be prepared with a bigger piggy bank as well because it doesn’t hold much – though it will get your toddler interested in filling it with coins!”
A popular series across the world, the Berenstain Bears, consistently teaches life lessons essential to everyday life. For elementary school teacher and writer Melanie Musson, this book was a great way to introduce the concept of money without the topic seeming like a lecture.
“Instead,” says Musson, “they’ll relate to Brother and Sister Bear in the story and enjoy following their journey to reaching financial balance.”
Money Monsters is a popular modern money series for children by author Okeoma Moronu Schreiner. Jen Smith, a blogger at Modern Frugality and Frugal Friends podcast host, says she immediately felt connected to the story when she found out the main character was named after her son, Kai. The story is about a little boy who deposits his money in an ATM for the first time.
“I love the illustrations,” says Smith. “The book has key words and conversation starters in the back.”
One of the best money lessons you can learn as a child is how to control your spending and the value of saving money for the things we want versus the things we need. Alyssa Davies, a millennial money expert at Zolo Homebase, says that Sheila Blair does an excellent job of showcasing these differences in her book: Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock.
“When I worked with a not for profit who focused on financial literacy for elementary school-aged children, this book was the one we used to demonstrate good money habits,” says Davies. “It’s a fun story and one that I cannot wait to read to my kid when she’s old enough to grasp the concept of saving.”
Best Financial Education Books for Kids Aged 5 to 11
#6. Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday (best for ages 5 to 8)
Viorst, who also wrote the well-known story “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” is a famous children’s author. So, when Anna Barker, a personal finance expert and founder of LogicalDollar, found the book, she knew it was perfect. Barker says this is an excellent book for kids from five to eight years old to learn about money management. It explains the concept of spending versus saving in an incredibly straightforward way.
By showing kids Alexander’s spending habits, they reveal the importance of saving for the future. “As this is something even some adults haven’t quite grasped yet, it’s a great book for setting early, positive foundations for kids to manage their money effectively,” says Barker.
Emily Deaton, a writer, says that economics can seem overwhelming with complex concepts, but books like The Everything Kids’ Money Book do an excellent job of breaking things down.
Deaton says this is an engaging book that teaches kids of all ages the importance of money and hard work. “The combination of colourful photos and easy-to-understand language makes the book an excellent resource for parents who want to teach their children the basics—and beyond—about money.”
#8. Money Ninja: A Children’s Book About Saving, Investing, and Donating (best for ages 7 to 11)
When it comes to money, lessons aren’t always as straightforward as learning how to budget. Instead, stories like Money Ninja focus on the different ways we use money and how to make these choices. Erich Sachs, CEO of Sachs Marketing Group and parent, says that this book is an excellent introduction for young kids who are just starting to learn about financial literacy.
“It talks about donating to good causes and making your money grow through investing, among other easily digestible finance ideas,” says Sachs.
Best Financial Education Books for Kids Aged 13+
Finding personal finance content that is digestible for all ages can be challenging. Still, when Shannon Serpette, blogger and chief editor for Mom Loves Best, found The Automatic Millionaire, she says this was the perfect read for her two teenagers.
“It teaches the importance of investing, but also watching those day-to-day expenses that can destroy a budget and derail your future,” says Serpette. “It gives a clear picture of how quickly young adults can build wealth if they take easy, automatic steps to do so. It’s highly motivating.”
#10. The Wealthy Barber
Another excellent read for teenagers looking to learn more about personal finance and how to manage their money as they grow is The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. Tom Drake, founder of Maple Money and parent to two, says that he wishes someone had made this recommendation to him during his high school years.
“It’s an easy read and would have been much more useful in my life than Of Mice and Men,” says Drake. This book simplifies creating a financial plan that works for you in a less complicated way and is highly rated across the board.
Ultimately, money is one of the universal topics that need to be a part of our upbringing to encourage successful budgeting and planning for the future. Literature is a great way to get children and young adults interested in an otherwise intimidating concept that should be fun and exciting.