Let’s face it: most parents aren’t award-winning teachers. Getting through to your kids about important topics can be incredibly difficult — which is why a lot of adults need all the help they can get trying to educate the children they love about investing.
Fortunately, there are a lot of books to choose from that can help improve your children’s financial literacy and teach them how to invest. The problem is that not all of those books are created equal.
To help you sift through the time-wasters and focus on great books that'll maximize your children’s learning, we’ve hand-picked a short list of our favorite investing books for kids.
This guide will explain why it’s important to teach kids about investing, how to teach them about investing, and showcase the four best investing books for kids.
Why Is It Important to Teach Kids About Investing?
Everybody wants their kids to grow up without being tied down by unnecessary financial burdens. But the truth of the matter is that most of us aren’t investing in making that dream come true.
According to researchers at FINRA, 19% of US households are spending more money than they’re generating in income. That’s a problem, too — because 46% of adults also say they don’t have a rainy day fund.
Translation: if life comes knocking with a financial emergency, the numbers indicate that almost half of us aren’t going to be ready. Unless you want the children you love to become one of those statistics, you’ve got to start teaching them lessons in financial literacy now to make sure they’ll be able to reach their true potential in the future.
What's financial literacy?
Financial literacy includes all the knowledge and skills you need to make smart choices with your money. That’s everything from understanding how a savings account works and using credit cards responsibly to setting up an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k), balancing a budget, investing in the stock market, and everything in between.
But for now, let’s stay on investing.
If you’re genuinely serious about helping your kids build a nest egg for the future, you’re going to want to teach them about investing.
According to Goldman Sachs, the average 10-year stock market return has been sitting at around 9.2% per year since before the twentieth century. Certain indexes can be even more lucrative. For example, the S&P 500 has brought in average returns of 11.13% over the last decade or so.
Compare those returns to shoving money into an ordinary savings account, and there’s no contest. (Although historical returns do not guarantee future earnings, so your results may vary.)
An understanding of investing will offer your kids greater opportunities to leverage compound interest over time — creating greater opportunities for them to go to college, get married, get on the housing ladder, start a business, retire comfortably, and more.
How to Teach Kids About Investing
It’s one thing to say that you should teach your kids how to invest. Actually teaching them how to do it is a whole different beast. So, how do you get started?
No two families are totally alike — so the way your kids engage with financial literacy might be different from others. To help you get started, let’s explore a couple of basic ways you can start getting kids interested in investing.
Start with financial literacy basics
If you want to teach kids about investing, you’ll have to start with financial literacy basics.
First, you should teach them how to budget. You could invite them to help you fill out your family’s monthly budget or get them to make a plan for how they plan on spending their weekly allowance.
In doing so, you’ll be able to show them how and when they should be setting money aside. That extra cash can then be used to help them invest (once you’ve taught them the basics of investment vehicles).
Next, you need to teach kids how to save.
The best way to go about this is to encourage them to come up with financial goals and show them how they can work toward achieving those goals. Setting financial goals is a huge part of investing. After all, the longer your children are willing to devote themselves to building an investment, the higher their returns will be moving forward.
Your next step is then to teach them how the stock market works.
And let’s be honest: even a lot of adults don’t actually understand how the stock market works. That means you’ve got to start basic.
Normalize stock market vocab words in household conversation while they’re still young. That means making sure they understand the difference between different types of securities like stock shares, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, bonds, and more.
Make sure they understand how stocks are bought and sold using brokerage accounts and ownership rights in terms of voting on company decisions and annual dividends. More importantly, you need to ensure they understand that investing in the stock market includes an element of risk.
Even though returns on the stock market are generally steady over time, asset prices do fluctuate. There’s no guarantee the securities you’ve invested in are going to go up in value — so you must teach your kids that there's no such thing as a sure thing, and the importance of diversification.
Finally, you should set up the children in your life with a kid-friendly reading list. There are loads of amazing books out there that show kids how investing works. We’ll get down to our favorites in just a minute.
Set up an investment account
Asking kids to sit down and do a budget spreadsheet with you can be an important lesson — but the best way to teach kids is to show them firsthand what happens when you’re investing real money in their future.
One way to do this is to set up an investment vehicle like a Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) custodial account. UGMA accounts are designed specifically with children in mind, which makes them the perfect investment vehicle to build a nest egg for your children’s futures.
With a UGMA account, you manage a child beneficiary’s assets as the account custodian until they reach the so-called “age of majority.” The age of majority varies from state to state, but it’s normally either 18 or 21.
By setting up a UGMA account, you can get your child involved from a young age in making choices on the types of assets you’re investing in for their future. You can then show them how compound interest and unearned income like dividends help their nest egg grow over time. You’ll also be able to teach them how portfolios work and let them make suggestions on how to alter their asset mix.
Why is a custodial account a great way to teach kids about investing?
Above all else, custodial accounts let your kids learn by doing — but with you still safely in charge. When real money is on the line, you can engage them in a way that spreadsheets and books never will.
What Are the Best Investing Books for Kids?
There are a lot of investing books for kids available in bookstores, at libraries, and online. But some books are definitely more likely to inspire kids to invest (and teach them best practices) than other books are.
To help you start sifting through that sea of books and hone in on the most helpful options, here are our four favorite investing books for kids.
If You Made a Million | David M. Schwartz
“If You Made a Million” is an incredibly useful book that covers all of the basics of money. Written by David M. Schwartz and first published in 1989, the book breaks down complicated topics like earning and investing. It also includes comprehensive explanations of interest and dividends.
Schwartz has penned over 50 books designed to help teach kids about money, and this book is specifically designed for those aged five and under.
But what really makes this one shine is its bright and colorful drawings. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg, “If You Made a Million” follows the adventures of Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician as he uncovers fun facts about money. Young readers will learn how to earn their own money, write a check, pay bills, and more.
How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Invest! Save! | James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, and Matt Fontaine
“How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save!” is a book for slightly older kids based on three key principles: making money, saving money, and investing money. This book is specifically marketed for kids who dream of becoming millionaires — but the appeal is a whole lot broader.
Published in 2016, this book by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, and Matt Fontaine covers many financial literacy essentials. They include how to get a job, how to start a business, and how kids can save their money to reach long-term financial goals.
The book also includes a business plan template, as well as a budget tracker and a two-page plan kids can complete to plot out how they want to become a millionaire.
If you recognize the names of the book’s authors, it’s for a good reason. Coauthors James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, and Matt Fontaine created the Emmy-winning TV show "Biz Kid$” on PBS.
One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent | Bonnie Worth
If you’re trying to engage children on a topic using a book, one of your best bets is always to get Dr Seuss involved.
“One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent” by Bonnie Worth is the ideal way to introduce younger children to basic money concepts. Using characters like The Cat in the Hat from the world of Dr Seuss, this book combines the iconic author’s goofy rhymes with important financial lessons for kids.
It covers the history of bartering, how money is made, and how compound interest works. Thanks to hilarious illustrations by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu, these financial literacy topics really come alive and make kids want to learn more.
As a result, this is another great option for kids under five years old.
Heads Up Money | Marcus Weeks
We’ve already covered great investing books for younger kids. But what about teenagers?
Teenagers are well-known for questioning authority and the way things are supposed to work. That’s why they tend to question money issues, too.
“Heads Up Money” is a very well-written book by Marcus Weeks targeting those in grades 5 to 12. It tackles way more complicated topics than the other books we’ve already covered. Readers will find out how supply and demand works, what a market trend is, and how investment markets operate.
Rather than just explaining topics like a textbook, “Heads Up Money” takes a different approach. For example, Weeks covers inflation by taking a look at what would happen if every bank printed as much money as it wanted to. More importantly, it takes an in-depth look at whether being rich makes people happy.
Because it covers a wide range of topics, this book is a fantastic read for any teenager who will be out in the real world and paying their own bills in a relatively short amount of time.
Let’s face the facts here: if you truly want to show kids how to avoid getting stuck and help them build a nest egg for the future, teaching them how to invest is a pretty obvious choice.
That being said, getting through to kids isn’t always easy — especially when it comes to financial topics. Fortunately, there are a lot of amazing and comprehensive investing books for kids that can help you teach the children in your life about financial literacy.
We’ve covered four of our favorite investing books for kids, but it’s important to remember these recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg. They’re a great place to start if you’re trying to teach your kids why investing is so important, but we all learn differently, right?
Take a look at what’s out there. It’s even worth reading a couple of these books yourself first to make sure they’re a good fit for the children in your life.
And if you’re ready to start teaching kids about investing first-hand, you should get EarlyBird and start investing today.
This page contains general information and does not contain financial advice. All investments involve risk. Any hypothetical performance shown is for illustrative purposes only. Actual investment performance may be different for many reasons, including, but not limited to, market fluctuations, time horizon, taxes, and fees. Please consult a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional for investment guidance.