Money Lessons I've Learned From Children's Books - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Money Lessons I've Learned From Children's Books

While putting LO and BB to bed lately, I've noticed that several of the lessons in their books could also apply to personal finance, believe it or not.

So, without further ado:

Let's take a reading trip

Come on! It's fun!

And you'll better understand money

When we're done.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Image courtesy of Joe Mabel

The Lesson You Know: Don't assume you don't like something until you've actually tried it.

The Money Lesson: You may or may not be aware that Green Eggs and Ham was written because of a bet. Dr. Seuss's editor bet him that he could not write a story using only 50 words. Since Dr. Seuss was a genius, the now-famous story of an unnamed man who was reluctant to eat moldy breakfast food clocked in at a total of 50 words.

My takeaway is that if you make good and creative use of the tools you're given, then you can accomplish anything. And that's true whether those tools are a mere 50 words, or a minimalist budget.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Lesson You Know: Caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies after a short period of incessant eating. (Also, people don't seem to finish any of their food at a carnival.)

The Money Lesson: If you indulge in greed, you will make yourself sick--and might even turn into a version of yourself you don't even recognize.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett

Image source

(Please note that I'm referring to the wondrous and magical book of my youth, and not the recent Hollywood abominations that completely missed what we all loved about the original.)


The Money Lesson: Not having to work for what you need is not the blessing it might sound like. Then you have to simply accept what you get--even if it's potentially harmful. (Also, the streets of Chewandswallow must have been awfully sticky. That's not a money lesson, it's just something that completely escaped me when I was a kid reading this book).

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Image source

The Lesson You Know: It's amazing how long a supper will stay hot when you're off galivanting with Wild Things--in and out of weeks and almost over a year! (Or, that forgiveness and love are available at home, even when both parents and children "misbehave." Seriously, I get choked up about the hot supper at the end because I know Max's mom is feeling as bad about sending him to bed without supper as Max felt about being a wild thing.)

The Money Lesson: Being powerful does not protect you from loneliness, and power is not nearly as important as being where someone loves you best of all. (Okay, it's not so much a money lesson as a status lesson. But they're both important for kids).

What are some of your favorite children's books? What unexpected lessons can you find in them?



haverwench said:

Funny story: my childhood copy of Where the Wild Things Are had the back page stuck to the cover, so I never actually read that last line until I reread it for my Children's Literature class in college. What a difference five words make. I once heard an interview with Maurice Sendak in which he mentioned that the editor wanted to change the line to "and it was still warm," because he thought "hot" sounded too dangerous, while Sendak thought "warm" sounded halfhearted, like Max's mom had let the food cool off for a while before finally relenting.

Interestingly, I found that the recent movie version of Where the Wild Things Are, though it also added quite a lot of material that wasn't in the book, was somehow true to the feel of the story in a way that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs wasn't at all. Maybe it had something to do with using puppets instead of CGI.

March 24, 2014 11:01 AM

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