The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently introduced a monthly Money as You Grow book club, which targets kids ages four to 10–and their parents. So far, the club includes nine books. But the idea is to present a new book each month with the hope that families will read them together, stirring a conversation about the financial concepts in the stories.
Eventually, the CFPB will run out of kid-friendly stories that contain financial lessons, the bureau concedes. It will not commission any books on its own. But one book a month is a pace that should last for a few years at least, the bureau says. “The books we have selected are popular children’s books that are easily accessible in libraries, at bookstores, and online,” says Gail Hillebrand, associate director. “In making selections for the Book Club, we emphasized key ideas that are important to both childhood development as well as building the foundations of financial capability.”
In “Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday,” the title character makes mistakes with his money and learns the importance of exercising self-control and saving for what he really wants. “Just Shopping with Mom” is a departure point for a discussion about spending wisely at the grocery store and saying no to things a child may think he or she needs. Collectively, the books cover fundamental building blocks such as prioritizing, making sound decisions, earning, spending, saving and borrowing. They also tackle important money-related behaviors like self-control, follow-through, staying true to oneself and flexibility.
The CFPB created the Book Club understanding that in some families discussing money with children is an uncomfortable subject or even taboo; some parents simply don’t have the knowledge or understanding of money management to interpret it for children. Each Money as You Grow book contains two to four financial themes and downloadable discussion guides.
The ‘Money as You Grow’ franchise grew out of a 2012 initiative by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and CFPB’s Money as You Grow working group. The goal was to offer essential age-appropriate financial lessons and compatible activities that kids need to learn about money. Last March the website was reintroduced, and the Book Club is the latest project to bolster the financial know-how of America’s children.