Earn It! by Cinders McLeod (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017)
Teaching children financial literacy—knowing how money works and having the skills to make informed decisions about personal money matters—is said to be a concept best started early. The financial wisdom runs that parents should introduce the subject when children are young, and talk often, keeping an eye out for teachable moments.
Cinders McLeod, an acclaimed political cartoonist and illustrator, has come up with a brilliant tool for just that: The Moneybunny Series of books for children ages three to eight launched last summer with its first installment, Earn It!. The book introduces simple money concepts to young readers with the help of a boisterous protagonist, Bun. She’s a little rabbit who lives in Bunnyland, where carrots are the currency. Bun’s mom gives her an allowance of one carrot a week for walking their dog, Buck, and another carrot for singing to her little brother, Toonie. Bun loves to sing, and dreams of being rich and famous, but Bun’s mom offers more realistic ideas, and here is where Earn It! can help with those teachable moment experts recommend.
In the gentle and practical terms, Bun’s mom unpacks exactly how Bun might learn to sing well enough to achieve her dream of becoming rich and famous. First on the list is gaining skill through singing lessons. But singing lessons cost money. How can Bun afford them? By earning and saving her carrot allowance. With that, the fantasy takes a realistic, and achievable turn based on dollars and cents, or in this case, carrots—earned one at a time.
Earn It! is beautifully designed with vibrant colors and endpapers decorated in a humorous carrot-themed pattern. McLeod’s illustrations are charming and energetic and are sure to keep young children engaged. A resident of Toronto, McLeod is an award-winning editorial cartoonist, illustrator, and designer whose work has appeared in British and Canadian newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Express, and Maclean’s. She is the recipient of a National Newspaper Award and a Gold Society of Newspaper Design Award, and worked as an art director and illustrator for Toronto’s Globe and Mail. She is also the creator of comic strip Broomie Law.
In a recent Wall Street Journal piece on financial literacy for children, personal finance advisor Nathan Dungan said, “One of the most important reasons to equip youth with critical financial skills is that it has the potential to significantly enhance their quality of life.”
And with carrots as currency, Earn It! provides just that: simple scenarios that show the more chores Bun does, the more carrots she gets, and the closer she is to achieving her dream—and for children, that’s an accessible introduction to the concept of what it means to earn, save, and build a future based in real world terms.
If you’ve yet to have that first chat about money with your child, the ideal time is probably coming up. And as Nathan Dungan points out, the time is right “as soon as they utter the phrase, ‘I want…’”