About Family Financial Literacy

What is Family Financial Literacy?

You start with a quality children’s novel, you create strong family and community bonds through a shared reading experience, and you wind up teaching valuable and sophisticated lessons in a clever, enjoyable way!


Family Financial Literacy weaves the magic of a great story with a valuable opportunity for folks of all ages to learn more about money, personal finance, and basic economic concepts.

Family Literacy and Financial Literacy.

Put ‘em together, and you get something splendiferous.

Read more about each component here…

The Program

National family literacy experts, Read to Them, partner with state economics experts to create an elaborate and varied suite of creative, engaging, user-friendly support materials.  Use these resources to transform each FFL title into a literary and financial odyssey for your families and your schools.

By reading a common FFL title together, students and families will learn valuable financial literacy concepts, engage in rich conversations, and develop an improved understanding of both personal and community economics.  All by reading a book together. That’s Family Financial Literacy.


Family Financial Literacy Books

The Lemonade War

Lunch Money

The Toothpaste Millionaire

The Lemonade War

By Jaqueline Davies

Can math and economics provide the theme for a full scale community reading event? You bet your calculator it can.

The Lemonade War is about Evan Treski and his younger sister, Jessie. Jessie is smart – numbers smart, math smart, business smart. But Jessie is missing is that social sense – some call it Emotional I.Q. – that allows her to read and understand how others – like her brother, Evan! – react to her intelligence and her drive.

Evan and Jessie’s relationship – Evan’s confused feelings, Jessie’s confused feelings – forms the backdrop to Jacqueline Davies’s perceptive, sensitive Lemonade War. Evan and Jessie make a bet and establish a competition: Who can sell the most lemonade?

Which makes The Lemonade War the ideal vehicle to teach lessons in basic financial literacy. Evan and Jessie duke it out over supplies and advertising and marketing techniques. They learn about costs and how to calculate profits. Author Jacqueline Davies is not shy as they begin to discover basic principles of franchising and location.

The Lemonade War is a funny, well-written insightful children’s novel – that also uses math and teaches economics. It’s the perfect way to teach Family Financial Literacy.

Lunch Money

By Andrew Clements

In Lunch Money, we meet Greg Kenton, serial entrepreneur. He’s enterprising, sweet, and vulnerable. Everything is going his way, until he meets his match in fellow student, Mara Shaw, who seems to be aping his style and methods.

Greg and Mara wind up competing for sales with their own dueling comic books. Students and families will learn about how to make money as a youth; and how to make and distribute home-made comics for sale. Greg and Mara have to worry about worrying adults – some of whom are wary about money scheming students…

Lunch Money becomes a morality tale for a complicated and fraught topic: What does it mean to be greedy? What are the limits of entrepreneurialism? Is it bad or good to constantly scheme to make money? It’s the American Way – and yet it makes some uncomfortable. Should there be any restrictions on Greg’s and Mara’s entrepreneurial projects?

Lunch Money is a perfect book to engross students in their world – students navigating school and family. Clements writes brisk, accessible prose and stimulating, witty dialogue.

Lunch Money is also a perfect novel to show and teach a full range of lessons in financial literacy – costs, expenses, supplies, labor, paperwork, regulation, innovation, competition. It’s a seemingly endless list – all packaged in a fun, lively, memorable children’s novel.

Lunch Money will give the students and families in your community plenty to talk about – and plenty to calculate. That’s Family Financial Literacy.

The Toothpaste Millionaire

By Jean Merrill

Rufus Mayflower is a can-do kid. When his friend Kate’s bookbag breaks – Rufus knows how to make another one. 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 – and how much the drugstore charges for it – he decides to really make and manufacture and distribute and sell his own.

And thus The Toothpaste Millionaire is born. There are plenty of personalities to manage and non-economic problems to solve – which makes The Toothpaste Millionare a fun title to read and share as a family.

But it’s Rufus the problem-solving entrepreneur that makes it an essential vehicle for Financial Literacy. Rufus learns and masters a whole set of economics challenges – supply, labor, capital, and – the real doozie for Rufus – distribution costs. Rufus’s sunny solutions are a perfect and charming introduction to the question of entrepreneurial problem-solving.

Through it all Rufus remains a kid. He’s not really in it for the money. He’s just looking for the next problem to solve…

Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

The Trumpet of the Swan

Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire

By Sundee T. Frazier

Cleo Edison Oliver is sassy, confident, independent, and enterprising. She is ready to take on the world. She is ready for business.

She’s also just a kid – an African-American girl – navigating elementary school. So amid her various enterprising business schemes, this novel is also filled w/ verve and… wordplay!

Cleo will concoct a scheme to sell anything. Avocados. Homemade dogfood. Quinoa cupcakes. Anything.

There’s even a money-making scheme to pull teeth with a Nerf gun – the Extractor Extraordinaire™.

All of which combines to make Cleo Edison Oliver a fun family read and a great vehicle to teach financial literacy. Students can learn with Cleo all the basics, how to turn schemes into action. What are the costs and hurdles? What does one learn about economics – about advertising (Cleo is a whiz at slogans), marketing, distribution and incorporation?

All of it takes place at the playground level so students are sure to be charmed by Cleo’s ambitions – and parents and teachers will be fascinated to see how Cleo can teach basic financial principles. She might even turn some of your students into budding entrepreneurs…

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

By E. L. Konigsburg

A Newbery Award winner from yesteryear.

Claudia and Jamie Kincaid run away from their safe Connecticut suburban home and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Can they remain undiscovered?  How can they manage to live on their own?  What happens when they discover a mystery involving a visiting statue of Michaelangelo?  These are the elements that have charmed and fascinated readers for over 50 years.

Claudia and Jamie manage to survive using Jamie’s poker winnings.  He’s not only a cardsharp, he’s also careful and prudent and stingy with their money, which makes From the Mixed-Up Files a perfect vehicle for financial literacy.

Students and their families will empathize with Claudia when she wants a nice lunch.  And marvel and learn from Jamie when he shows her how to save money – and how to discover schemes to find or make a little more.

From the Mixed-Up Files will charm families when Claudia and Jamie finally meet the mysterious Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  And students and families will reap financial lessons as they re-live Claudia and Jamie’s every-day decisions on how to ride the train, where to eat lunch, how to mail a package – and how to husband their limited resources.

The Trumpet of the Swan

By E.B. White

E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan possesses three well-known virtues. The protagonist Sam Beaver, through whose patient, curious, observant eyes we learn to see and appreciate nature, quietly and privately. Louis the Swan, born without a honk, he learns to communicate anyway through the aid of a trumpet. His adventures will take you from the wilds of Canada and Montana all the way to the Ritz Hotel in Boston, Mass. And of course, there is E.B. White’s sterling and matchless prose.

But E.B. White’s venerable classic can also be a vehicle to teach Financial Literacy.  Louis’s father ‘steals’ a trumpet from a store-owner in Billings, Montana.  And Louis spends the breadth of the novel trying to earn the money to pay back the storeowner.  He works as a summer camp bugler; he entertains patrons of the swan boats at the Boston Public Garden; and he works at a jazz club in Pittsburgh.  Louis carefully saves his earnings in a money bag he carries w/ him everywhere.  He even has to learn how to rent a hotel room, negotiate w/ an agent, and pay a taxi.  All of which provides rich opportunities for exploring and understanding the basics of budgeting and financial literacy.

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