Ooh, Money!


There are so many great parenting books out there that make your family’s life better. The catch is that they don’t necessarily make your life easier, at least not in the short term anyway. (Of course I have the time to patiently, kindly affirm your feelings instead of – or at least before – taking away your screens until the end of time.) There is one exception, however, and it’s this one:

The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber*

Having a child ask, “How much money do I have in my spend jar?” is so much easier on the ears than, “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE buy me this ridiculous plastic thing I will play with once but refuse to ever Konmari!”

This book did many other things in our home, but I think I only need to say “absolutely eliminated power struggles over money” to sell you on it. We totally still have power struggles, though, so Lieber needs to expand his realm beyond the financial. Now that my kids don’t beg me for stuff anymore, how do I get them to go to bed on time, Mr. Lieber?

And while you’re reading Lieber’s book, here are some others your kids may want to purchase with their newly independent means:


The Girl and The Bicycle by Mark Pett

Grit, perseverance, and unexpected kindness on all fronts. I can’t say enough good things about this beautiful wordless book by Mark Pett.


The Money Tree by Sarah Stewart and David Small

I refuse to be embarrassed by putting a David Small book in almost every post to date. He and Sarah Stewart are an absolute dream team, and this book is another win.


Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent by Lauren Child

Hilarious, and when paired with hot cocoa and followed by a board game, absolute perfection.


The Night Job by Karen Hesse and G. Brian Karas

This one is not ostensibly about money, but it is lovely and I would argue absolutely in theme.


One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway and Eugenie Fernandes

Inspired by true events, subtitle says it all.


Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz

A funny classic from the always hilarious Judith Viorst.


Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt and Vin Vogel

This book is about food insecurity, yes, but also friendship, trust, and respect. And unlike so many books about hard topics, the illustrations are bright and cheerful. Why, oh why, does every book about homelessness or financial difficulty have to have a dark color palette? “Please hand me the dark scary-looking book. I want to learn hard truths now, please,” said no kid ever. This one delivers an important message, but with warmth and humor and affection. It is a great introductory read to teach even the youngest of readers how to use their give jars for good (or to feel less alone if they experience food insecurity themselves).


There are so many more good books (even ones with dark illustrations) about financial insecurity or homelessness or limited means. Here are a few more to check out if your child is interested:

Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson (Won the Newbery without being a novel and won the Caldecott, too, so you know this one is special)


The Orange Shoes by [Noble, Trinka Hakes]

The Orange Shoes by Trinka Hakes Noble and Doris Ettlinger


A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui


The Yard Sale by Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo


The One Day House by Julia Durango and Bianca Diaz


If your child prefers chapter books right now, you could read Ramona and Her Father (job loss), Henry Huggins (saving for a bike, paying for Ribsy’s food), The Hundred DressesA Little Princess,  Matilda, Little Women or many others. Just search protagonist-of-limited-means and you’ll find almost all fiction written for children ever.

Please feel free to add ideas in the comments. I love a good book recommendation!



(*Full disclosure, some Goodreads folks found Lieber’s book elitist. When I read it years ago, I found it only helpful, but I’m not easily annoyed when reading books for free from the library. Well, unless there are awkward love scenes. Which, of course, there aren’t in Lieber’s book. I would have remembered that.)

(Also-also, once your kids graduate from the money jars, they can have a “Save,” “Spend,” “Give,” and possibly “Invest” budget categories in  YNAB, which is a totally addictive budgeting app you should try right now. Then you can just check your phone to see if they have enough money to buy Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday or not.)


2 thoughts on “Ooh, Money!

  1. Wow, you’d think that owning hundreds of picture books and having checked out thousands more in the last 14 years I would have come across many of your picture book recs, but the only one we’ve read (countless times of course) is Alexander Who Use to be Rich Last Sunday. We love Viorst at our house! Time to add the others to my library holds.

    Liked by 1 person

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