The Toothpaste Millionaire

by Jean Merrill (1974)

A Sweet Spot selection. 

Includes Financial Literacy resources.

“Rufus’s idea wasn’t to become a millionaire. Just to make toothpaste…”

Rufus Mayflower is a can-do kid. He is a sunny problem-solver who charms and inspires the students and friends and even adults around him. When Rufus balks at paying too much for toothpaste, he decides to make his own. When he discovers how easy it is, he decides to manufacture, distribute, and sell his own brand of toothpaste and take down the high-priced competition. Really.

“…everybody needs to brush his teeth. If I could make a good, cheap toothpaste, that would be worth doing.”

And thus The Toothpaste Millionaire is born! With the help of his best friend, Kate– who helps Rufus solve non-economic problems and manage the toothpaste operation– and Rufus’s timeless ingenuity, The Toothpaste Millionaire is a fun, classic title to read and share as a family.

Rufus is what makes The Toothpaste Millionaire an essential vehicle for Financial Literacy. He learns and masters a whole set of economic challenges, including materials, labor, capital, and – the real doozie for Rufus – distribution costs. Rufus’s solutions are a perfect and charming introduction to the creative challenges of entrepreneurship.

Through it all Rufus remains a kid, and his story debunks the idea that only adults can make a difference with their big ideas. He’s not really in it for the money. He’s just looking for the next problem to solve… Lucky for Rufus, running a multi-million dollar business is never entirely smooth sailing.

“By the time Rufus goes into eighth grade this fall, he’ll have over a million dollars in the bank.”

Read to Them offers a full slate of Financial Literacy activities to go along with our standard packet of celebratory fun for this title. Give your families a great reading experience, along with an inspiring dose of economic fundamentals when you read this book together.

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