July 09, 2013

Follow Your Money: Who gets it, Who spends it, Where does it go?

by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka
Annick Press
56 pp.
Ages 9-12

With the increasing number of Canadian households spending more than they bring in, it's not surprising that many young people aren't getting the financial literacy education they need to make wise decisions about money.  If parents are overspending, unaware of the ultimate costs for these spending habits, how can they possible share financial wisdom with their children?  Fortunately, Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka have put together Follow Your Money, a non-fiction text that can help young people understand how money can fly out of their wallets, ways to keep a tighter handle on it, and how everything is interconnected.  

After a brief history of money and profit, readers will examine key purchases that they or their family might make on a regular basis.  Items like bread, jeans, pizza, computers, transportation, gas, heating, pets, and sports equipment, are examined with respect to the costs of production, the parties involved from creation to sales, any profits made, and taxes paid. (I would like to mention that, as new caregivers to two kittens, that the joy and goodwill we get back from these little brothers is priceless, even if we do need a new wingback chair!)  In addition, readers are introduced to the concepts of banking, interest, loans, credit and debit cards, and those critical fees and penalties. 

Young readers will definitely never look at a price tag the same way after reading Follow Your Money.  I probably won't either.  Looking at the cost of public transit, I can now see why the government helps cover some of the costs.  And the next time I buy ink cartridges for my printer, I will remember that it's one of the most profitable products we buy.  Forget gold -- buy ink!

Having Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka author this book together is inspired.  Author Kevin Sylvester has successfully entertained young readers with a variety of his award-winning picture books (e.g., Splinters, Tundra, 2010), novels (e.g., Neil FlambĂ© and the Tokyo Treasure, Simon & Schuster, 2012) and non-fiction (e.g., Game Day: Meet the People Who Make It Happen, Annick Press, 2010), as well as illustrating those of other authors (e.g., Don't Touch That Toad and Other Strange Things Adults Tell You by Catherine Rondina, Kids Can Press, 2010).  Michael Hlinka, who regularly shares his business commentary on CBC Radio, brings his financial know-how, partnering well with Kevin Sylvester.  Together they have produced an entertaining look at money management for young people, complete with relevant and amusing illustrations, and organized to enhance readership and understanding.  We can all learn something from Follow Your Money.

While I don't want to suggest that this is a teacher resource, Annick Press has made a lesson plan available based on Follow Your Money.  It can be accessed at http://www.annickpress.com/content/lessonplans/FollowYourMoneyLessonPlan-1.pdf

There's also a video posted by Annick Press to YouTube of a workshop conducted by Kevin Sylvester and Michael Hlinka in February of this year.  I've posted it on my Book Trailers and Other Media page at http://canlitforlittlecanadianstrailers.blogspot.ca/2013/03/follow-your-money-who-gets-it-who.html

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