Most middle schoolers are very curious about money. How it works, why some people have more than others, and how they can get some themselves. Middle schoolers also start desiring higher cost items that they likely can’t afford with their allowance, and that you might not want to buy them on a whim. This inherent curiosity about money makes it the perfect time to start teaching them more about saving, investing, and entrepreneurship.
In this post, there are five fantastic books on money aimed at middle schoolers. Some are fiction books featuring young entrepreneurs that can teach your middle schooler about creativity, investing, and saving money. Some are non-fiction books that make learning about money fun and give your children solid ideas they can implement from today through their adult life. The best part? Each of these books costs less than $10!
How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest by James McKenna & Jeannine Glista
What I love about How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 is that it’s honest and does not underestimate kids’ ability to understand money. While the writing is accessible to middle schoolers, it explains big concepts like compound interest, credit card debt, mutual funds, and how to write a good business plan.
In general, most kids hate to be talked to like they can’t understand things. “Oh, you’ll understand when you’re older,” is a push off and kids know it. And in the case of money, those lost years until they can understand will make a big difference to their success or failure with money as an adult. Let them take risks and learn now when their absolute dollars are low.
My favorite chapter in this book has to be the last chapter: What Could Go Wrong? In this section, the authors go through top money mistakes people make including spending more than they earn, taking on credit card debt, falling for schemes, gambling, and not having a plan. I love that the book ends refocusing kids on the realities of money and how there are no “get rich quick” plans.
Buy on Amazon: How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000
Lunch Money by Andrew Clements
From the writer of Frindle and other amazing middle school fiction books, Lunch Money is a story of a boy named Greg who loves money. After noticing that his classmates have extra cash at lunchtime for snacks, he spends his summer developing a comic book he can sell at lunchtime. Lunch Money goes through the development of Greg’s business, his reaction to another classmate that becomes a competitor, and the benefit of teamwork and perseverance when your business runs into roadblocks.
This book is excellent for younger middle schoolers who may not be directly asking questions about how money works, but that is at an age where you want to introduce money and entrepreneurship concepts. In the book Greg has been saving money since he was 5, his dad encourages him to open a bank account, and at 12 years old he has already started a business. It is a fun, well-written story that could motivate your middle schooler to start thinking about money!
Buy on Amazon: Lunch Money
Growing Money by Gail Karlitz
This book serves as a basic introduction to investing for middle school students. While not as comprehensive as How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 (it doesn’t cover basic money concepts like budgeting and earning money), it is a beneficial book for learning about investing in the market. Kids will learn what bonds and stocks are, how to buy and sell stocks, the basics of mutual and index funds, and how to spot a scam.
Growing Money uses fun, real-world examples to explain its points to kids. It also features short quizzes throughout the book to help reinforce concepts and help kids learn about their money personalities. A favorite of mine was a quiz to tell what kind of risk taker you are!
While this book would be a helpful introduction to investing for kids at any age, it does seem geared to a slightly younger reader than How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000. Focusing on just the concept of investing, instead of all aspects of money, might be more comfortable for younger children to digest.
Buy on Amazon: Growing Money
The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill
Originally published in 1972, The Toothpaste Millionaire solidly falls in the “oldie but a goodie” category. This book can spark great discussions on frugality, making things yourself, investing, and starting a business.
In this realistic fiction story, sixth-grader Rufus Mayflower is outraged by the price of toothpaste and sets out to see if he can make it cheaper. Along with his good friend Kate MacKinstrey, they develop a production plan and begin producing and selling gallons of more affordable toothpaste. They even have a factory.
Rufus creates the idea for the business and works with his friends to solve problems without adult influences throughout the book. Rufus and Kate solve mathematical problems throughout the book to support middle school math concepts as well as money lessons. It challenges middle schoolers to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, showing them the potential benefits of thinking outside the box.
The other fantastic benefit of this book is that it tells the story of the friendship between a black boy and a white girl in 1960s Cleveland. Without focusing on their racial and gender differences, but instead on the children’s business, The Toothpaste Millionaire teaches children about diversity and inclusion as well as money.
Buy on Amazon: The Toothpaste Millionaire
Better Than a Lemonade Stand! by Daryl Bernstein
After your kids start reading about money, they are likely to be excited about earning their own money and ways to start their own business. While they may have many ideas of their own, Better than a Lemonade Stand! has a host of excellent business ideas for kids. It covers what the business would do, the supplies your child would need, how much time it will take, and hints on running an efficient business and how much to charge.
One of my favorite ideas from this book was “seedling grower”! While your child would likely only be able to do this once a year, the lessons they could learn by starting seeds in late winter indoors, tending to them, and selling the seedlings come spring at a significant profit would be a great business. This type of activity would teach kids so much about the hard work and preparation it takes to be successful. Plus, think of all they would learn about flowers, fruits, and vegetables!
If you want to raise an entrepreneur, it is best to let them learn by doing early on. Let them go through this book and find a business idea that excites them, or maybe the plans will spark their creativity! Help them build a budget for their new business, but make sure that the venture remains their own!
Buy on Amazon: Better than a Lemonade Stand!
If your middle schooler can read one or more of these books at their age, they will be off to an incredibly strong start for a life of smart money choices. Remember to choose books based on their interests and relate the lessons in the book to their real life. They will stay interested much longer and learn a lot more if their money lessons are based on things they care about. Happy reading!
What books have you read with your kids about money? What were your favorites? Let us know!
Note: It was challenging to find well written, middle school aged fiction books about money and entrepreneurship that featured female leads. Both Lunch Money and The Toothpaste Millionaire include smart, driven girls as the secondary character, but I am still looking for a good option with the girl as the main character. If you have any suggestions, let me know! Otherwise, I might have a future book project on my hands…