March 9, 2020 Print

David Descoteaux, a Canadian business columnist associated with the Montreal Economic Institute, has launched a book series that seeks to introduce basic economics and finance lessons to children. The books, intended for ages 6-10, tie economics and finance into a fun and easy-to-understand story. So far, Descoteaux has released 5 books: Hot Potato, Noah and the Piratouks, The Magic Banana Trees, The Little Red Hen, and Operation Elephants.

Each book highlights a different economics or finance lesson embedded in the plot of the story, covering topics such as free trade, compound interest, and opportunity cost. Descoteaux, who has spent most of his career teaching economics to adults, noticed a market niche that hasn’t been utilized. “There weren’t really any children’s books that discussed these lessons,” he explained. 

In Operation Elephants, three entrepreneurial children—Zach, Leah, and Hugo—are tasked with removing rocks at the top of a mountain that are blocking their village’s water source. They determine that helicopters are needed to remove the rocks, but none of them can make the machines on their own. So using each other's comparative advantage, Hugo built nets, Zach built propellers, and Leah built engines. After some trading, each child ends up with the materials to build his or her own helicopter.

Each book is an enlightening introduction to basic economics and finance ideas for young readers. “The world would be a better place if citizens were more understanding of these principles and used them in everyday life,” Descoteaux explained. The most effective way to build an understanding, he believes, is to start educating at a young age. 

The series, while including finance and economic themes, avoids buzzwords and partisan rhetoric, making it an enjoyable read for all children. “I wanted the books to be available and enjoyable for everyone,” Descoteaux continued. “Regardless of where you fall on the ideological spectrum, you will enjoy them.”

Descoteaux wrote these books for children, but believes parents could learn from them too. “Everyone can benefit from an introductory lesson to finance and economics. Even for folks who studied the subjects in college, these books can serve as a great refresher.”

So far, Descoteaux has sold over a thousand copies of his books, with five more books yet to be published. Buy his books here.