The 7 Best Finance Books for Kids in 2023
Educate your little ones with these titles
Educate your little ones with these titles
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Talking about money can be hard for lots of people, especially parents and their children. In a 2021 survey by the investment firm T. Rowe Price, 36% of parents with children under age 18 said they were either very or extremely reluctant to discuss financial matters with them. Add in the 26% who said they were somewhat reluctant, and you have a stunning 62% majority of Americans.
Asked about the reasons for their reluctance, 56% of parents said their kids were too young to understand, 41% said they had too many other things to worry about, and 28% admitted being embarrassed by the state of their own finances.
Fortunately for parents who lack the expertise, time, or inclination to discuss money matters with their kids, there are plenty of books on the subject. For younger kids, reading a book together is also an easy way to facilitate a conversation about money, including difficult topics, such as when a parent loses their job or the family can't afford to buy something the child wants.
How young is too young to begin? A review of the academic literature by two child development experts at the University of Cambridge in England suggests that by age 3 or 4, most kids have figured out that money can be used to buy things, though they might not understand that coins have different values (and big coins aren’t always worth more than littler ones) until age 5 or 6. By age 7 or 8, many kids have a pretty good grasp of those concepts and even of how money substitutes like credit cards work.
So in this review of the best financial books for kids, we start with a few titles for pre-readers and work our way up to books that kids can read on their own. For the details on how we chose these particular books, please see the “Why Trust Investopedia?” section below.
Sid and Jan Berenstain’s classic Berenstain Bears series, for kids age 3 to 7, includes several titles focused on money, any of which would be worth picking up. In the most recent one, The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense (2001), Papa Bear attempts to teach Brother Bear and Sister Bear about budgeting.
In The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money (1983), the spendthrift siblings learn about working for a living, the importance of saving, and, at the same time, not turning into “greedy, selfish little monsters” obsessed with money. All ends well when they head off to the Bear Country Bank to open a savings account. (The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a parent reading guide for this book on its website.)
These inexpensive paperbacks are suitable for repeated reading to kids, and shouldn’t bore parents completely out of their minds.
What is it about bears and money? Written by Mac Gardner, a certified financial planner, this book for kids age 3 to 7 features a quartet of them: Saver Bear, Spender Bear, Investor Bear, and Giver Bear.
The Four Money Bears (2015) was cited as the best book for kids by two members of the Investopedia Financial Review Board, both certified financial planners themselves. Anthony Battle said it “uses very relatable content to help children learn the basic concepts in finance. The story revolves around different types of money personalities and how they are able to work together.” Likewise, Marguerita Cheng recommended it as “age appropriate and engaging for children.”
The charming Moneybunny book series, written and illustrated by Cinders McLeod, consists of four titles: Earn It! and Save It!, both published in 2021 and Spend It! and Give It!, published in 2022. Each features a different boy or girl rabbit learning lessons relevant to the book’s title. The action takes place in Bunnyland, where carrots serve as money.
Katie Miller, a member of Investopedia’s Financial Review Board, called the series “an adorable and approachable intro to financial concepts for young children,” adding that her own “4-year-old daughter (at least momentarily) grasped the concept of only having so much money to spend and not being able to buy everything.”
The recommended age range for these books is 3 to 5.
The winner of multiple awards, If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz explains money and counting concepts to 4- to 8-year-olds through Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician. Marvelosissimo shows how various combinations of coins and paper money add up, starting with a single penny and ending with a million dollars. He also introduces the concept of interest—both the kind that banks pay on deposits and the kind they charge borrowers on loans.
Readers who enjoy this book, which was first published in 1989 and reissued in 1994, may also want to check out How Much Is a Million? and Millions to Measure, also written by the team of Schwartz and Illustrator Steven Kellogg.
Sheila Bair’s 2017 book Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock, illustrated by Barry Gott, tells the rhyming tale of twin brothers Rock, a spender, and Brock, a saver. The boys, who look to be about 8 or 9, are encouraged to save by their canny grandpa, who gives them a dollar a week to do chores and promises to double their money each week if they haven’t spent it. Eventually, Rock ends up broke, while Brock has $512. Fortunately, Rock takes the lesson to heart and mends his ways. The book closes with a table showing how Brock’s fortune grew, while Rock’s didn’t, and a child-friendly guide to the wonders of compound interest.
If Bair’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she served as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2011 and was often in the media during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, calmly reassuring Americans that their bank accounts were safe.
Walter Andal, who has a professional background in the financial industry, says his experiences as a father of four inspired this 2016 book and its 2021 sequel, Finance 102 for Kids. Aimed at middle schoolers age 8 to 12, the book is a model of clarity that covers the usual topics, such as earning, saving, investing, and credit, plus some more advanced ones, including the stock market, foreign exchange, and basic economic concepts like supply and demand, inflation, and unemployment.
Andal writes that his goal isn’t “to “transform kids into know-it-all investors or business tycoons” but “to present basic yet important information for children to develop financial responsibility and help them make smart financial decisions early in their lives.” The book is illustrated by Richard Peter David.
How to Turn $100 Into $1,000,000 (2016) is targeted to kids age 6 to 12, particularly would-be entrepreneurs and aspiring millionaires. Authors James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, and Matt Fontaine cover financial goal setting, budgeting, saving, investing, earning money from a job, and starting a business, all in an age-appropriate way (although kids at the higher end of that 6- to-12 age range will probably get the most out of it).
To its credit, the book manages to be both inspirational and grounded in reality, emphasizing that building wealth doesn’t happen magically but requires discipline and hard, often unglamorous, work. It includes a one-page business plan, a budget tracker, and a two-page plan for becoming a millionaire.
There is no shortage of good money-related books for kids, from little ones who enjoy being read to by an adult to older kids who can read independently. Because of the large age range we cover in this review, roughly ages 3 to 12, we chose two “best overall” picks. For pre- and early readers, any of the Berenstain Bears books would be an appropriate choice. They have met the test of time, and many of today’s young parents probably grew up with them. For older kids we’d recommend How to Turn $100 Into $1,000,000, which offers a good mix of both information and inspiration. For more recommendations, check out Investopedia’s 7 Best Finance Books for Teens.
Book reviewer Greg Daugherty has covered personal finance topics for more than 30 years, including stints as a senior-level editor at Money magazine and Consumer Reports. He is also the author or co-author of two books on personal finance for adults. In addition, he’s the proud father of two financially literate kids, now in their 20s.
To compile our list, Daugherty and his Investopedia colleagues combed the bookstores, both online and off, checked out libraries, consulted publisher websites, and surveyed experts, including members of Investopedia’s Financial Review Board. We based our final judgments on the authors’ credentials, the quality of advice the books had to offer, and how suitable they would be for children of various ages and levels of sophistication.
While the illustrations are often one of the pleasures of children’s books, our primary focus was the value of their informational content, as assessed by our experts and in the many parent and educator comments we reviewed online.
T.Rowe Price. "Parents, Kids & Money Survey."
T. Rowe Price. “13 Annual Parents, Kids & Money Survey,” Page 36.
The Money Advice Service. “Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children.” Pages 17 -19.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Parent Reading Guide for ‘The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money’ by Stan and Jan Berenstain.”
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. “Biography – Sheila Bair.”