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'Money Basics for Kids' - simple introduction to the complex

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Dawson - Photo by Mel Cooke

Mel Cooke, Sunday Gleaner Writer

There should be no shortage of children's books in the store near you, but Sharryn Dawson's Money Basics for Kids: Financial Literacy for Children is certainly not the typical children's tale of fantasy creatures and worlds that defy the conventions of normalcy.

It is, as the title makes immediately clear, a text that introduces children to the matter of money - key definitions, how it is made, where it is kept, what to do with it and, very importantly, how to generate it yourself.

As a review, this one is a shoo-in. Sub-titled 'your child's guide to understanding money and entrepreneurship', it is very difficult for Money Basics for Kids to set a foot wrong on what is obviously a very necessary topic. The value lies, first of all, in Dawson's concept and the execution does not let down an excellent idea.

A timely reminder

The 68-page text (including provision for notes) is organised into five chapters, each of which concludes with an activity. Chapter One looks at 'Where does money come from?', which includes the very important sections on money and debit and credit cards at ATMs. One key realisation which is a timely reminder to adults as well, is that with credit cards "you are really borrowing money from the bank which you must pay back within a specified period of time".

Nuff (interest payments) said.

The concept of entrepreneurship is introduced early, as in Chapter Two on 'How do people earn money?' the first sub-section deals with "who is an entrepreneur?" It is defined as "a person who owns a business. That person becomes the boss and earns money by selling different products (goods and/or services)". Certainly, children will be interested in that term 'boss'.

And the readers are soon told "starting your own business can be easy, but requires a lot of work and dedication".

'How to manage your money', 'How to save your money' (did someone say Olint verdict?) and the vital 'Creating your business idea' complete the chapters. Along the way the concept of the credit union and its difference from a bank is introduced. Dawson gives the five pillars necessary for creating business ideas and the concept of budgeting is broached.

Fun element

Still, while 'Money Basics for Kids' differs from the run-of-the-mill children's book, it has the all-important fun element, with colour illustrations and a fun character, the porcine Maxwell the Detective (who hangs out with Sally), as the companion through the activities.

At the beginning of 'Money Basics for Kids' Dawson quotes Albert Eistein, that "things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler". And it seems that she has stuck to this with the book which, although not couched in language that will daunt children, at the same time does not underestimate their ability to grasp vital concepts.