Nonfiction Monday: Follow the Money!

Follow the MoneyFollow the Money!
written by Loreen Leedy
illustrated by Loreen Leedy
published by Holiday House, 2003
Audience (reading level):  5 to 8 (2.1 Flesch Kincaid)

Money talks. No, I mean it. George Washington (hard head and paper face) has a lot to say about how he traveled from the US Mint to a bank to the cash register to a clown (in exchange for a balloon) the soda machine … and so on … until he returns to the bank again. George isn’t the only President talking – Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and John F. Kennedy introduce themselves. Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea, and Alexander Hamilton also make cameo appearances.

By following the money trail, kids are introduced to money math on several levels. There is a basic introduction to coins and their face value, but they also learn about using money. There are examples throughout the story where they needed to use addition, subtraction, or multiplication to determine value or make change. There are a number of clever things about this book.

  • The page numbers are counted out in money, not just by volume, but in math problems, too (dime – 2 pennies = page 8).
  • The factual events are presented in a single sentence per page; it is the cartoon-framed conversations that fill in the details.
  • Fact pages at the back offer more details about why we need money and who makes it, as well as a kid-friendly list of money terms kids need to know and use.

One of our projects this summer has been to help our rising second grader with recognizing her coins. Our practice efforts to name coins (other than pennies) usually went like this …

“A dime?” Pause to see Mom’s facial expression.
“No, a quarter.” Pause again. “I mean a nickel.”

Although she knows there are three basic silver coins and, once identified, she can tell us the value, naming the coin was a challenge … until we read this book. Dawn Morris’ series about teaching coins at Moms Inspire Learning is what got me thinking about using a picture book to help with money. My frame of reference was “let’s practice some math.” Doh! I could have saved all of us a lot of frustration.

I suspect that one of the reasons this book worked for her is that the money not only talks, but it tells jokes.

Abe Lincoln in a penny roll: “So George, how was your day?”
Newly minted George Washington quarter: “I was under a lot of pressure at first.”

The humor strikes exactly where it needs to – the audience! When I picked this book out, I got “Aw, Mom. I don’t want this.” So I quietly explained that this was “my book.” After it sat on the coffee table a couple days, I picked it up and after a few (strategic) giggles and mmmm-I-didn’t-know-thats, somebody came to sit beside me while I read. Then we read it together. Then she asked for it four nights in a row as a bedtime story. Go figure.

Needless to say, I wish we had found this book sooner.  I am allergic to math and the idea of combining reading and math just never crossed my mind. Thanks, Dawn!

This is an excellent book not only for introducing coins, but for helping kids understand our our financial system works. The process is explained in terms they can understand and with examples they will recognize. This is an excellent read-aloud, and we had fun taking turns being “George,” “Abe,” and friends to partner read. Because of the presentation format, the best way to share this with a group or classroom would be an overhead projection.

This week, Pam Coughlan  hosts Nonfiction Monday at MotherReader. Be sure to stop by to offer your 2c on some great nonfiction books for kids.

4 responses to “Nonfiction Monday: Follow the Money!

  1. I’m so glad to see Dawn’s great series on Math getting put to good use at your place Terry!

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