In fact, according to David Bianchi, author of Blue Chip Kids: What every child (and parent) should know about money, investing and the stock market: “one of the biggest mistakes parents make is assuming that their kids aren’t interested in money or investing. They are interested,” says Bianchi. “They just need the information presented in a way that is fun, simple and educational.”
I chatted with Bianchi recently about how he got this idea for the book. He told me that he was trying to teach financial concepts to his 11-year-old son and couldn’t find information designed for kids so he decided to write down a few concepts and staple some pages together. The pages grew and he started to share them with friends and family members. Then 18 months later, his modest idea turned into a 220-page book.
“I didn’t set out to write a financial book,” says Bianchi, a Miami-based lawyer by trade. “I knew my son needed to learn about money and he wasn’t learning it at school so I decided to teach him myself. I wrote about a few concepts in a way that I felt would appeal to a kid but as it turned out, adults found it really helpful as well. Then I asked my nephew to provide some illustrations that would appeal to school kids and it took off from there.”
I read Blue Chip Kids as part of my own financial education and even though my school days are long behind me, I appreciated the use of clear language, graphics and easy-to-digest concepts. Now that I’m an “expert”, I asked Bianchi how I should use the book with my own kids.
He suggested approaching it in small sections over a long period of time: “With my son, I had him read about 15 pages each week,” explains Bianchi. “After he read the pages, I would ask him what he had learned and then I would further explain the concepts to him. Once he got to the end, we started again.”
Bianchi says he uses everyday situations to help reinforce what his son has learned from the book. At restaurants, he challenges his son to estimate the cost of the bill before it arrives. In the grocery store, his son tallies up what goes in the cart to see how close he can get to the cash register total. He even gave him some imaginary money to invest in the stock market and was thrilled when his son started a stock market club at school.
I must admit I was slightly intimidated by the notion of my kids playing the stock market when I can’t even get them to save their allowance, but their eyes lit up when I suggested they buy stocks online and watch them rise and fall live on the computer. They’re excited about “getting rich” by investing in their favorite video game providers, candy manufacturers and cool car companies.
Blue Chip Kids is a great primer on all things financial. I already feel more financially literate after reading it once and I’m looking forward to reading it again with my kids.