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Staff Writer at Debt Reduction Services

Seek Children's Books that Teach About the Basics of Personal Finances

Children’s Financial Book Review – Berenstain Bears

I love to read! It’s not that I don’t enjoy a fun movie with the family (especially with popcorn generously sprinkled with peanut or plain M&Ms), but for me, reading is the luxury I can never seem to afford time-wise as much as I would like. So, when I get a chance to relax in our recliner (which my wife usually beats me to, and, honestly, she works much harder for that privilege) or to unwind in a nice, hot tub, a book is often my companion. Since I was not a reader when I was young (I was a book “viewer” so long as it had lots of pictures), I suppose I’m probably making up for it subconsciously.

From time to time on this blog, I would like to share my thoughts about a book I’ve read with some good personal finance lessons, tips, suggestions, and/or stories that I think others would benefit from and, more importantly, enjoy.

So, today, I’d like to take you back a few years to your own childhood. One of my favorite books to “read” as a child was The Bears’ Vacation (pub. 1968). To this day, if I see a twig poking just above the surface of a pond or creek, I smilingly assume there’s a dangerous sunken log just belong the ripples.

Fortunately for my own children, the Berenstain Bears are still around and Papa Bear is still teaching important lessons through his own mistakes or just plain ol’ goofiness.

Read "Berenstain Bears Trouble with Money" to the Children in Your LifeThe Berenstain Bears Trouble with Money

I actually use this book when I go into Kindergarten through 3rd Grade classes for readings. The kids know what money is and how to spend it (like Brother and Sister Bear), but the idea of earning it or saving it is still pretty foreign. So it keeps my visits interesting to them.

The Bright Side:

  • The story’s lesson is fitting for all children: Money is for more than just spending. Kids of just about any age can earn and save it.

The Extra Bright Side:

  • The book introduces the idea that Moms and Dads are pretty normal for worrying about money but that their kids are even more important to their parents than money is.
  • Balsa wood airplanes and the Astro video game? This fun personal finance book for kids comes with time travel options for their parents.

The Dark Side:

  • None really, although being an equal opportunity saver, I would have been tickled to see (even though the book was published way back in 1983) a reference to the valuable services of both banks AND credit unions… but I know that’s stretching things. I love them both!

Questions the Book Brings Up that Parents Should be Prepared for:

  • If you don’t give allowance to your kids, or if they never receive money from grandparents or for birthdays, be prepared for that discussion. Papa Bear and Grizzly Gramps tend to spoil the cubs with cash donations.
  • Wouldn’t it be great if money grew on trees? Or if Dad were made of money? This is a great opportunity to discuss why we even value money. After all, it’s made mostly of cotton and doesn’t contain any precious metals. We value it as a means of common exchange… “I’ll trade my time, efforts, ideas and/or products for your money.” If money grew on trees (which, being mostly cotton, it doesn’t… since it grows out of the ground), no one would care about money. Offer me $200 if it grew on trees, and I’d reply, “Why would I care about your $200. If I wanted $200, I’d go pick it myself in 2 minutes off the tree in my backyard.”
  • What do you know how to do that your friends, neighbors or others would be willing to pay you for? Pet minding, yard work, lemonade, etc. Kids in early elementary school need to learn that their efforts have value to others and that they CAN SELL products and services to others.

Favorite Quote:

  • “Papa was so startled and so embarrassed at having been so wrong about them, that he was speechless.” Kids love this reaction, especially if you read it and go speechless yourself. Seems silly, but for a class of 7-year-olds, it’s hilarious. Have fun with it!

I highly recommend this Berenstain Bears story. I hope you can enjoy reading it soon to a little one cuddled up on your own lap or snuggled deep into their own covers.

Have a beary wonderful day!

Todd Christensen

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